What You Should Know About Driving Abroad
Taking a trip to another country can be exciting, and for some it offers the opportunity to drive around and become immersed in the culture. For those who do choose to drive in another country, it is in their best interest to “stay on the beaten path” – it’s estimated that over 200 US citizens die each year due to road accidents in other countries. While this is not meant to discourage travelers from driving, it is definitely meant to encourage them to know the rules of the road before heading out.
Obtain and International Driving Permit
For those who do decide to drive while spending time abroad, it is important for them to obtain an International Driving Permit or IDP. Many other countries do not recognize a US driver’s license, but IDP documents are recognized and honored in over 150 countries across the world. While an IDP cannot replace a U.S. driver’s license, it can be used to supplement a valid driver’s license in other countries. Additionally, IDPs are not valid in your home country, and you must be 18 to obtain one.
Obtain Car Insurance
Once travelers have obtained their International Driving Permit, they must then obtain car insurance. Vehicle rental companies across the globe often offer insurance coverage to those renting cars, but often times it is very minimal insurance coverage. Whenever renting a car in another country, it is highly recommended to carry the same amount and type of coverage that travelers would have at home. Insurance coverage in the U.S. generally does not cover drivers when they travel overseas.
It is possible, however, for the insurance policy to cover drivers if they are visiting and driving in countries neighboring the U.S. It is important to check with one’s auto insurance provider to see if its policy covers him or her in countries like Mexico and Canada and even some countries south of Mexico. It is important to keep in mind, however, that even if the policy extends to these countries, it may not meet that country’s minimum requirements for auto insurance coverage.
Know the Rules
Once you have received all the appropriate documents, it is important to make sure you research and understand the rules of the road in whatever country you’re visiting, such as seat belt laws, how to handle traffic circles, and who has the right of way when merging or turning. Additionally, make sure to carry both the International Driving Permit and your US driver’s license with you at all times.
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