We leave for Italy in a week for a two-week family vacation. And so I got in my car and drove out to the remotest tundralands of Charlottetown to visit the CAA in their new “you can’t help but drive here now — cars, aren’t they great!” location to get an “International Driving Permit.”
I seem to go back and forth on this seemingly useless piece of documentation: in odd years I bite the bullet, pay the $27 ransom, and get one; in even years I don’t, and thus risk immediate imprisonment in an Italian roadside offender prison.
Tourist literature seems to be split on whether an IDP is actually needed or not, with the majority view recommending it. But I’ve always been suspicious of this, and I’ve never actually heard of anyone being asked to show their IDP to rent a car, or otherwise.
As near as I can tell the sole practical function the IDP is to translate into other languages the words “private passenger” on the back of my PEI driver’s license — in other words to let the Italian highway police know that I am not licensed to drive 18 wheelers on the autostrada.
Why it takes two passport-sized photographs and a $15 fee (and why it expires after a year), I do not know.
Have you or anyone you know ever found that having an IDP was required or useful when traveling?