The International Driving Permit (IDP), often incorrectly referred to as an International Driving License, is a multi-translation of a driver’s license that enables it to be used in any country that has signed up for one of the international conventions.
These are usually issued by local automobile associations and come in two forms; one valid for a year (1949 Geneva) and another good for three years (1968 Vienna). Many countries honor both while others only one of the two or none at all.
I am looking for this issue because of my upcoming longer trip to Thailand, where I would rather not rely on taxis in Phuket and Koh Samui but would instead rent a car. Last year when I was in Japan, I would have needed an IDP, one of the countries where you REALLY need one, so I ended up not renting at all.
In many countries that list the IDP (on various country pages for agencies issuing these IDPs) as a requirement to drive a car, while on touristic purposes for a limited time, you won’t have an issue with a recognized license, at least based on my personal experience.
Here’s a list of countries per Wikipedia which IDP they accept:
Theoretically, it appears that you do need an IDP to rent a car in Thailand, but a friend of mine who has rented several times in Koh Samui, has never been asked for a one.
However, I ran into an issue once when in Fiji where I had to “buy” the IDP on the spot to rent a car. I am not sure if this was merely a revenue opportunity for Europcar (the shop where I rented if I can recall correctly) in Nadi.
Then I have been to a few countries that, per Autoliitto (Finland’s AA), I would have needed an IDP, but I have not had any issues with a plain Finnish driver’s license per the usual EU format.
Have you ever been asked for an IDP, and if yes, where?