International Driving Permit

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?


Robert Paterson's picture
Robert Paterson on November 21, 2007 - 01:20 Permalink

I once used mine as a Cholera vaccination certificate on a small border crossing in Turkey — it looked official and they could not read any of the languages on it — but they demanded one — so….

Chuck McKinnon's picture
Chuck McKinnon on November 21, 2007 - 18:38 Permalink

My experience is pretty much the same as yours: I get one every time I go back to France (every couple of years or so) but I’ve never really had to use it. I’ve never been pulled over, and when I rent a car they’re more interested in my Alberta license than in my IDP. When I crossed over into Switzerland one time, they were only interested in my passport.

The consensus view is to get one, and they’re cheap enough, I guess. But it’s never made any difference for me to have one, so far.

Stephen Parks's picture
Stephen Parks on November 22, 2007 - 16:32 Permalink

I’ve had to use an IDP to rent a car in both New Zealand and South Korea. In Korea, they didn’t want to see my “real” driver’s license, only the IDP. In New Zealand I had to show both.

We all luv CARBON's picture
We all luv CARBON on November 22, 2007 - 19:37 Permalink

The fun of sharing CARBON burning tales on your blog is astounding…from mailing CD’s with two songs across Canada to driving everywhere around the world. It’s great how everyone chips in their CARBON burning/eating stories, yum, yum refreshing!

A challenge to bloggers: try to celebrate life for 1 day without conspicuous consumption of tasty carbon. A challenge to Blog master: try to celebrate blog life for 1 day that does not include espousing the pleasures and ‘virtue’ of being environmentally irresponsible.

Collectively, we have to start somewhere. BTW, I’m not an enviro. nut, just a citizen who has noticed tha tide has turned againstt he 1970’s approach to energy use.

May the blog be with you (carbon lite, of course).

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on November 22, 2007 - 22:38 Permalink

Your comments, well-intentioned as they are, would hold more weight if you would sign your name to them.

Josh's picture
Josh on November 22, 2007 - 23:23 Permalink

Sorry this is off topic, but peter’s last comment (and many similar I have seen) intrigues me: Why would the comments of We All Luv Carbon “hold more weight” with a name “sign[ed]” ? I have always been curious about this — If it was “John Smith”, how would you know if the name is real ? and what difference could it make regarding the strength of the argument ? Does it matter if you know the person ? Isn’t it more objective to assess the principle, rather than the personality, behind the arguments ? Hey, its always fun to know who is behind various points of view, but does it really add “weight” to the argument, or just comfort ?

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on November 23, 2007 - 00:53 Permalink

If I read “Peter Rukavina is a wasteful polluting idiot” sprayed on the side of a building, I’m less likely to change my behaviour than if someone I trust takes me aside and says “You know, you’re a wasteful polluting idiot.”

As to whether “John Smith” is who he says he is, we are all simply on our honour.

Josh's picture
Josh on November 23, 2007 - 22:46 Permalink

Ok, but does your example squarely addresses the issue? By this reasoning, it isn’t that WALC’s contention would hold more weight if they simply signed thier real name, but rather that by signing their real name you would be able to contextualize (prejudge ?) them, and thereafter assign weight to their opinion. Fun, and understandable, but valid ? My contention is that the opinion, whether sprayed on a building or whispered by a spouse, should still carry the same “weight” based on what is said, and how it is said, not who says it…and regardless of whether it is praise, or criticism.

Now that being said, I am going through the effort of responding because, even though I don’t know you personally, I know “of” you and your thoughts through this blog, and as a result consider your opinion, and those of your usual readers worthy of solicitation…hmmmm…same thing ?

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on November 23, 2007 - 23:29 Permalink

I think I am more of the school that thinks the person is the opinion (rather than being a separate object that exists apart from them).

Charles's picture
Charles on November 25, 2007 - 19:59 Permalink

Josh, you might want to consider reading the chapter on “Equal Time for Nutjobs” in Drew Curtis’s FARK book. Not everyone’s opinions are equally valid. Some people’s opinions are entirely without value.

WE ALL LUV CARBON on November 26, 2007 - 21:48 Permalink

Let the record show that blog master is a ‘professional among professionals’ at side stepping and wholly diverting any form of critique. The above posts more than support this claim.

Surprising and sad.

PEI has lowered to ‘who’s your father’ not ‘what do you think.’ Again, surprising and sad.

No need to respond blog master for I will venture to more enlightened environs.


Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on November 27, 2007 - 01:38 Permalink

Yes, that’s me.

oliver's picture
oliver on November 27, 2007 - 04:52 Permalink

Opinions are neither valid nor invalid. They can be on-point or not. They can be founded on research or not. Whatever research they may be founded on can be comprehensive or not, careful or not, conducted credulously or not. And what’s offered to you as an opinion can be sincere or not, felt strongly or not, human-generated or not etc. Deciding not to care who’s talking and what’s the context would be like deciding to surf the Web without Google or any other social networking—so acetic and self-reliant as to strike most people as foolish. Granted, net names guarantee nothing, but you’ll be reading a lot of spam if you pay them no heed at all, and if the signature says “your momma,” typically you can be pretty darn certain from the context whether it’s true.

oliver's picture
oliver on November 27, 2007 - 05:09 Permalink

In the case of WE ALL LUV CARBON, asking for a name strikes me as a generous act of civility, if not exactly on point. I might have just discounted the opinion totally and either not responded at all or else said something quit a bit more snarky. Peter’s given the commenter an occasion to say something comment coherent and less suggestive of bad-faith intent.