Can You Drive in the US with Your License?

Tourists are allowed to drive on their own in the US if they have the proper documents. Which documents are mandatory, depends on what country you’re coming from, but one of them needs to be the driver’s license no matter what.

An international driving permit is a document accepted by more than 150 countries including the US that can be used to legally drive while visiting. It’s also accepted only if you have a national driving permit with you.

How to Get an International Driving Permit?

An international driving license for tourists is easy to get since there are no additional tests or exams to take. All that you need to do is to pay a small fee and fill out a form and you’ll get the permit within a week.

It can be used for a year and after that, it can be easily renewed in a similar fashion. The permit is only valid if your national permit is up to date as well. When it expires, so does the international permit. A domestic license usually expires after five years.

An Inter-American Driving Permit

An inter-American driving permit is another international document that allows you to drive your vehicle across the countries of northern, central, and South America. It also requires you to have your national permit, and it’s issued based on it, without the need for additional tests and exams.

Most of the countries that recognize the inter-American permit also recognize the international one. The notable exemption is Brazil which only recognizes inter-American permits and drivers from Brazil can only get and use this permit when traveling across the border. This document will also only be valid if you have the license and an ID with you.

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Driving in the US with Canadian Permit

Canadian licenses are valid and accepted within the US. That means that you can simply drive your own car with your own license without having to obtain any additional documents if you’re from Canada. The same goes for Americans driving to Canada.

These documents won’t deal with insurance at all and you need to get insurance for traveling abroad. This may seem like too many additional expenses, but it’s worth it if you get into an accident. Don’t try to save on insurance policies and make sure you have the insurance paperwork with you.

What Can Happen if You Can’t Show a Permit?

There are fines if you don’t have proper licenses with you but their severity depends on the reason you can’t produce a license. If you don’t have the license with you but you have a way of proving that you do actually have a license, the fines are smaller.

If you’re driving with a permit that’s been revoked or out of date, you’ll get a more severe fine. You can also get fined if you were stopped for some other traffic violation even if everything is in order with your permit.  The traffic authorities have the discretionary power to let you go with a warning as well.

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