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If you intend to drive
overseas, check with the embassy or consulate of
the countries you will visit to learn their
driver's license, road permit, and auto
insurance requirements. If possible, obtain road
maps before you go.
Many countries do not
recognize a U.S. driver's license. Most,
however, accept an international driver's
permit. Before departure, obtain one at a local
office of an automobile association. You must be
at least age 18, and you will need two
passport-size photographs and your valid U.S.
license. Certain countries require road permits
instead of tolls to use their divided highways
and will fine drivers without a permit.
It is alos important for you
to be aware that if you loose your wallet and
drivers license, many countries will not allow
you to drive. Here is the statement issues
by the U.S. Consulate in England regarding lost
Driving without a
valid license is not permitted in the UK
To obtain a new license, apply to the
Department of Motor Vehicles in the
capital city of the issuing State. The
Embassy cannot issue a replacement
license. You must not drive until you
receive your duplicate license. There
are no exceptions to this rule which is
strictly enforced by the British police.
You can drive in the UK using your
International Driving Permit.
Car rental agencies overseas
usually provide auto insurance, but in some
countries, the required coverage is minimal. A
good rule of thumb when renting a car overseas
is to purchase insurance coverage that is at
least equivalent to that which you carry at
In general, your U.S. auto
insurance does not cover you abroad. However,
your policy may apply when you drive to
countries that neighbor the United States. Check
with your insurer to see if your policy covers
you in Canada, Mexico, or in countries south of
Mexico. Even if your policy is valid in one of
these countries, it may not meet its minimum
requirements. For instance, in most of Canada,
you must carry at least $200,000 in liability
insurance, and Mexico requires that if vehicles
do not carry theft, third party liability, and
comprehensive insurance, the owner must post a
bond that could be as high as 50% of the value
of the vehicle. If you are under-insured for a
country, auto insurance can usually be purchased
on either side of the border.
Obtain an International
Drivers Permit (IDP). This can be purchased
through your AAA club. Have your passport photos
and a completed application. There will be a fee
involved. Carry both your IDP and your state
driver's license with you at all times. Some
things to keep in mind: If you IDP is lost
or stolen you need to obtain a replacement
immediately. To obtain a replacement
International Driving Permit, apply to:
The American Automobile Association
1000 AAA Drive, Mail Stop 28, Heathrow, Florida
Telephone number (407) 444-4240/700, fax: (407)
Some countries have a
minimum and maximum driving age. Check the laws
before you drive in any country.
up". Some countries have penalties for
people who violate this law.
As many countries have
different driving rules, obtain a copy of them
before you begin driving in that country.If the
divers in the country you are visiting drive on
the opposite side of the road than in the U.S.,
practice driving in a less populated area before
attempting to drive during the heavy traffic
part of the day.
Be aware of the countryside
you will be driving in. Many countries require
you to honk your horn before going around a
sharp corner or to flash your lights before
Find out before you start
your journey who has the right of way in a
Always know the route you
will be traveling. Have a copy of a good road
map, and chart your course before beginning.
Do not pick up hitchhikers
When entering your vehicle,
be aware of your surroundings.
Excerpted from: U. S.
Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs.
U. S. State Department
Publication 9926. February, 1992. pg. 20. Note:
As of July, 1997 this was the latest
non-internet-published U.S. State Department
document pertaining to this topic.
Should you buy
collision-damage coverage when your credit card
The insurance that car-rental companies offer
overseas can be very expensive, sometimes it can
be more that $20 additional or more per day.
Most of the time your personal auto insurance
will not cover a loss so you may have to obtain
the additional insurance. Remember
you are a visitor to a foreign country and
becoming involved in an accident is not the time
to wonder if you have proper coverage.
When I am traveling internationally, in a place
unfamiliar laws and languages, I buy the
insurance. But ask first whether the coverage is
for all damages or only some. Some international
car rental insurance covers only damages above a
certain dollar amount so make sure to check the
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