International Driver’s License Scams

The continuing unauthorized sale of “international driver’s licenses” on the Internet has prompted the Automobile Club of Southern California to warn consumers that Web sites offering these licenses for use in the United States are a rip-off.

An increasing number of Web sites offer “international licenses” to motorists and imply that they can be substituted for a state government-issued driver’s license. The documents, which can cost $300 or more, are not accepted by U.S. law enforcement as valid identification, the Auto Club said.

“These documents are often marketed as a way for people to drive without obtaining a valid license, or to continue driving if their government-issued license has been suspended or revoked, or as a way to avoid driver’s education,” said Auto Club spokesperson Carol Thorp. “That’s nonsense.”

The documents should not be confused with legitimate International Driving Permits, which are intended for use by tourists traveling outside their home countries. International Driving Permits are available for just $10 through the Auto Club and other AAA affiliated clubs, but they are only valid when carried with a valid U.S. driver’s license. AAA clubs and the American Automobile Touring Alliance are the only organizations authorized by the U.S. government to issue International Driving Permits.

California residents cannot use International Driving Permits in the United States, and the state of California does not recognize the permit as a valid driver license for anyone. California does recognize a valid driver license that is issued by another country, state or territory of which the license holder is a resident.

“International Driving Permits are simply intended as a translation of a motorist’s state driver’s license for use when traveling outside of the United States,” Thorp said. “And international law is very clear about using an international permit in lieu of a driver’s license. You can’t do it, period.”

For more information on obtaining an International Driving Permit if you are planning international travel, contact your local Auto Club office.

The Auto Club recommends that tourists obtain an international permit as added protection when overseas, even if they are not planning to drive. It serves as a useful document in communicating with non-English speaking authorities. However, some countries do not recognize the permit, so check with an Auto Club travel counselor to make sure the permit is needed for your trip.

The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest affiliate of the AAA, has been serving members since 1900. Today, the Auto Club’s members benefit by roadside assistance, insurance products and services, travel agency, financial products, automotive pricing, buying and financing programs, automotive testing and analysis, trip planning services and highway and transportation safety programs. Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club’s Web site at