Do I need an International Driving Permit to rent a car in Italy?

If you're visiting Italy from the US or from Canada then it's advisable to have an IDP to hire a car. It used to be a rule that nobody enforced, but in 2023 more car hire companies have been requesting an IDP, sometimes at the pickup desk which has caused a lot of trouble for guests arriving without one.

What is an International Driving Permit?

An International Driving Permit is a document containing an official translation of your national driving licence. It is issued through a worldwide network of AIT/FIA organisations, duly authorized by their governments to issue IDPs. Many countries require visitors to have an IDP if they want to drive outside of their home country, though all licences within the EU are valid without an IDP. And UK citizens also don't need an IDP to drive within the EU as long as they have a photocard licence.

Having an IDP means you are able to drive in foreign countries without the need for further tests or applications. To obtain an IDP, it is advisable to apply before you travel in the same country that issued you a national driving license - though there are also some websites that can issue IDPs online if you're stuck without one.

IDP is an addition, not a replacement of your national driving licence. In order to drive abroad, you must carry your IDP along with your national driving license at all times.

A decorated Fiat Cinquecento in Taormina

How to get an International Driving Permit

If you're reading this before you travel, then you can apply online here:

Where to order an International Driving Permit for US citizens

US drivers can order an IDP from the AAA website, here:

AAA-IDP website

Where can I order an IDP for Canadian licence?

Canadian citizens can order an International Driving Licence here:

CAA website

Where can I get an IDP for UK licence?

If you have a photocard licence issued in the UK you do not need an IDP to drive in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein. You might need an IDP to drive in some EU countries and Norway if you have either:

  • a paper driving licence
  • a licence issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man

This GOV website has a handy checklist to help you determine if you should apply for an IDP:

Can I order an IDP online?

There are now a number of websites and apps that will issue an IDP online and very fast, sometimes fast enough to allow you to pick up your hire car if you've only just been told by the hire company that they require it.

Canadian clients of ours have succesfully used

There is also an app from a company called "Autolitto" and can be downloaded for free from the AppStore and from the Play Store.

Another website that you can use to apply for an IDP is

In all cases you must still find way to print the IDP out, which can be tricky, though the car hire desk will often help.

Obviously, you would ideally order your IDP before travelling, but these quick delivery websites have saved several of our clients who found themselves stuck at a carhire desk.

Red Vespa in Italy
Bright red Vespa