International driving license in the USA: complete guide

04 Dec 13:56

If you want to visit the United States by automobile, be sure your driver’s licence is still current. In truth, each American state has its own set of laws for recognising an Italian driver’s licence. While an Italian licence is often adequate to drive on American roads, some states require an international US licence. In some situations, you will be required to provide other papers in addition to your driver’s licence.

In this post, we’ll look at which US states demand an international driver’s licence and which require an Italian licence. Finally, you’ll discover information on how to get a valid foreign driver’s licence for your travel to the United States.

What you need to drive in the USA

As previously stated, there is no one regulation governing the validity of foreign licences in the United States. Indeed, as of March 12, 2014, each American state is free to decide whether to recognise the Italian driving licence.

In general, each state in the United States enforces one of the following options:

  • International driving licence required: To drive on their territory, certain nations demand an international driving licence.
  • Italian driving licence accepted with ESTA or visa: Some American states accept the Italian driving licence provided it is accompanied by additional documentation. These are usually ESTAs or entrance visas. In some situations, an Italian or foreign driving licence must be translated into English.
  • The Italian licence is only valid for a certain time, which means you may only drive in America for a set number of days.
  • Absolute validity of the Italian driving licence without accompanying documents: the Italian driving licence is valid in some states, such as Nevada and California.

Driving requirements in each US state

Pay particular attention to your destination state if you are considering a vacation to the United States. This is especially crucial while travelling on routes that traverse various states. Indeed, you will need to have the paperwork necessary by each state with you in these instances.

The table below contains information on which US driver’s licence is necessary in each state:



Alabama, California, Maine, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina
Valid Italian licence
Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Wyoming
ESTA or other short-term entry visa and Italian driving licence
Italian driving license valid for 6 months
Alaska, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia
Italian driving license (valid up to 90 days)
New York City
Translation of driving license into English and Italian driving license (valid up to 90 days)
New York (state)
Italian driving license valid for 90 days and certified translation into English, or accompanied by an international driving licence
Italian driving license (valid up to 60 days)
Florida, Montana
Italian driving license (valid up to 30 days)
Idaho, Oregon, Washington
Italian driving license valid for one year
Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington DC
It is possible to drive with an Italian license in America if accompanied by an international license
Arizona, New Jersey
Italian driving license valid for 7 months if accompanied by an international driving license or certified translation into English
It is possible to drive with an Italian license for one year if accompanied by an international licence
New Mexico
Valid Italian driving license if accompanied by an international driving license or certified translation into English
Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas
International driving license

Practical example: trip on Route 66

Let’s look at a realistic example to better understand which documents are required to drive in the United States. Route 66 is one of the most popular locations for road vacations in the United States.

This ancient roadway connects Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. If you don’t leave Route 66 in California, you don’t need an international driver’s licence. However, if you wish to drive the full Route 66, you will have to pass through states that demand international licences, such as Texas.

Route 66 sign

As a result, you’ll still require an international driving permit for your trip. Furthermore, even if you are merely visiting a country that accepts the Italian driving licence, an international driving licence is recommended.

When visiting the United States, the same Italian authorities advise you to bring your international driving licence. In any event, a great deal is also dependent on the local government. Although it is not uncommon for US traffic cops to be indulgent with visitors, it is still advisable not to take the chance.

Types of international licenses

If you decide to apply for an international driving licence for the United States, make sure you get the appropriate one. In reality, there are three sorts of foreign licences, two of which are more regularly used. Each type has its own international treaty:

  • The Paris Convention of 1926 was the first on the subject. Currently, only Iraq and Somalia require it.
  • The Geneva Convention of 1949 is the most often used international agreement among countries that enable foreigners to drive with an international licence. This model is recognised in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
  • Many nations, like Mexico, have signed up to both the Geneva and Vienna Conventions. Others, like Brazil, solely use the Vienna Convention.

Different models and international driving license duration

The various forms of driving licences have essentially the same qualities and give the same freedoms. Two basic distinctions exist between the various models:

  • International acceptance: As previously stated, not all nations accept all international driving licence models. As a result, you will be required to get an international driving licence in accordance with the Geneva Convention.
  • length of the document: the primary distinction between the conventions is the term of the driving permit, which varies based on the convention that created it:
    • Vienna: 3 years from issue;
    • Geneva: 1 year from issue;
    • Paris: 1 year after release.

How to get the USA international driver’s license?

The 1949 Geneva International Convention governs the international licence necessary to drive in the United States. This licence supplements or replaces the Italian driving licence.

This licence only permits you to drive in the United States and overseas. In contrast, a foreign driving licence cannot be used to drive in Italy.

If you currently have an Italian driving licence, there are two options for obtaining an international driving licence. Both solutions enable you to get an international driver’s licence fast and simply. The request can be sent at:

  • Civil motorization needs more effort on your side, but it is faster and less expensive.
  • In this situation, the driving school or auto club will apply for the foreign driving licence on your behalf. As a result, the treatment will be simpler but more costly.

How to get the USA international driver’s license?

Applying for an international driving licence through the motor vehicle body is significantly more complicated than attending a driving school. In actuality, though, the required documents are not numerous and are not difficult to locate.

All that remains is to proceed to the motorisation when the documentation has been completed. You may need to book an appointment depending on the reference civil car.

You will obtain your foreign driving licence within a few days if you choose this option. The request will cost € 42.20 in total. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Fill out the TT 746 form, which you may get online or at the motor vehicle office. You will use this document to apply for an international driver’s licence. You must fill out the “Other Requests” part of the form, indicating the sort of foreign driving licence you require. In the case of the United States, you will need to apply for an international driving licence based on the Geneva Convention model.
  2. Make two separate payments: the slips can be obtained from the post office or the motor vehicle office. You must fill out a slip for €16.00 made out to current account 4028 and a second slip for €10.20 made out to current account 9001.
  3. Obtain a €16.00 revenue stamp: You must purchase it from an authorised tobacco and revenue stamp vendor.
  4. Get two passport photos: one of the two must be authenticated at your country’s municipal office. Authentication ensures that your identification matches that of the subject in the photograph.
  5. Bring the following papers with you: your valid driver’s licence and a photocopy of the front and back of the licence: Furthermore, we urge that you bring the following papers, which are not always necessary but are usually recommended: a photocopy of the tax code and your health insurance card

Apply for an international driving license for the USA at a driving school or automobile club

If you don’t have time to drive, you can enrol in a reputable driving school or auto club. In this situation, the club or school will handle all of the paperwork.

Waiting periods will remain quite short, ranging from 7 to 10 days. The entire cost of the surgery, however, will be greater. A competitive offer typically ranges from €70 to €120. If you prefer this option, you must do the following:

  1. Compare the offerings of various schools and groups. Because this is a more expensive alternative, you should compare rates from several schools or clubs. As a result, you will be able to receive your US international driving licence at the most affordable price.
  2. fill out the paperwork requested for the driving school or car club;
  3. pay the school or club the two payment slips of €16.00 and €10.20, as well as the cost of the service;
  4. Bring the following documents with you:
    1. passport photograph, one of which has been authenticated;
    2. a valid driver’s licence;
    3. The tax code and the health card

Driving around Los Angeles

International driving license how to renew it

As previously stated, an international driving licence issued in accordance with the Geneva Convention is valid for one year. As a result, even if you currently have it, you may need to renew it.

The procedure is the same as when applying for an international driving licence for the first time. Again, you will have your licence in a matter of days. In reality, you will be required to:

  • Fill out the renewal form, which is available at motor vehicle offices or on the motorist’s site;
  • Bring the identical documents that were necessary for the granting of the foreign driving licence to the car.
  • pay the same fees as for the issuance of the international driving permit You will then be required to make the two payments of €16.00 and €10.20 once more. You will also need to acquire a €16.00 revenue stamp.
  • Please bring your expired international driver’s licence.

Features of the international license

Unlike the national licence, the international driving licence for the United States is presented as a standardised paper document in each country. The document is partially in Italian, but it is also available in English, French, Spanish, and Arabic. For this reason, several US jurisdictions need a verified translation of the Italian national driving licence into English.

The following information can be seen on the first page of an international driving licence:

  • “International Driving Permit” phrase;
  • the proprietor’s name;
  • the date of release

On the remaining pages of the international driving licence, the following information about the holder appears:

  • an explanation of the many types of driving permits available The vehicle driving licence, for example, corresponds to the letter B;
  • Personal information about the holder: name, surname, date and place of birth, address;
  • a photocopy of the holder’s passport;
  • stamp the letter with the sort of driving licence awarded;
  • any limitations that apply to the permit

Other documents required to travel to the USA

In most circumstances, an overseas licence is insufficient to drive in the United States. Even when driving in the United States with an Italian licence, additional documentation is necessary. As a result, let us explain the papers indicated in the table above:

  • ESTA or short-term visa: If you are an Italian citizen coming to the United States for tourism, you will most likely need an ESTA. In actuality, an ESTA enables you to stay in the US for up to 90 days and may be obtained online. If you have any questions about applying for an ESTA, please see the link page. If you do not fulfil the eligibility conditions for ESTA, you will need a short-stay visa. This might be a category B tourist visa, for example. All information on the American visa may be found here.
  • biometric passport that is valid for at least the period of the visa

We recommend reading the page on the paperwork needed to go to the United States for more details.

Conclusions: is the Italian driving license valid in America?

Italian driving licence

If you are planning a vacation to the United States and wish to hire a car, you must have a valid driving licence. However, as we have seen, not all US states enforce the same driving standards.

Finally, you must be aware of the legislation of the state you intend to visit. However, travelling with an international driving licence is the best option. This approach is also advised if driving in America with an Italian licence is possible.

It is quite simple to obtain an international driving licence: simply follow the steps in this article. In most circumstances, however, an international driver’s licence is insufficient. Remember to include any essential accompanying documentation, such as a certified translation of your overseas driving licence. Finally, if you are travelling for tourism, the ESTA is a must-have document. As a result, request it well in advance of your trip.


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Concerned about ESTA? Please read our Frequently Asked Questions section.