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International driving permit Easy answers to tough questions

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Confused about the need for an International Driving Permit (IDP) when you are motoring overseas? You’re not alone. The Singapore online forums are filled with queries on the subject. And it’s no wonder because there’s lots of conflicting advice out there. But it is possible to unravel the confusion surrounding IDPs.

If you have a Singapore driving license and want to drive when you’re on holiday abroad, here’s what you need to know about the International Driver’s Permit (IDP). 

Firstly, what is an IDP?

The International Drivers Permit (IDP) is recognized worldwide as a valuable document, identifying motorists as legally-licensed drivers.

The IDP is particularly useful in non-English speaking countries as it contains driving terms in various languages. This makes it useful in a foreign country when you want to rent a car, also for motor insurance claims, traffic violations and traffic accidents.

If you do require an IDP then you also need to carry your Singapore drivers’ license as well. The IDP doesn’t replace your Singapore drivers’ license.

The IDP is valid for one year. If you are going to be holidaying in a country longer than three months, you must contact their embassy to make further arrangements for a valid driving license.

Do I need to get an IDP if I already have a Singapore driving license?

There appears to be no comprehensive list of countries that recognise the Singapore driving license, but it is safe to say that many countries do.

Do bear in mind that certain states within a country, and some car hire firms, have their own rules. If you are hiring a car, we highly recommend that that you ask the hire firm if you will need an International Driver’s License in addition to your Singapore license. And if you’re at all uncertain, check with the country’s embassy.

Which popular destinations visited by Singaporeans require IDPs?

Japan - Singapore license + IDP
Taiwan - Singapore license + IDP
USA - Singapore license + IDP
Europe - Most of Europe accepts the Singapore driving license BUT laws are changing. At least one country (Italy) requires an IDP. Best to check with the country’s embassy or your car rental firm.
India (certain states only) - Singapore license + IDP
China - Tourists cannot drive

Remember, if an IDP is required, you will still need to carry your Singapore license.

Popular destinations that recognize the Singapore license

South Africa
New Zealand

Where to get your IDP 

  • International Driving Permits are available from the Automobile Association of Singapore (AA).
  • Costing $20, you can apply online at http://www.aas.com.sg/international-driving-permit.html
  • Processing and delivery to your home takes about 10 working days.
  • Alternatively, you can walk-in at two AA locations and receive your IDP within an hour.
  1. 535 Kallang Bahru
    #01-08 GB Point
    Singapore 339351
    Mon to Fri: 8.30am – 5.30pm, last submission at 5.15pm
    Sat: 8.30am – 1pm, last submission at 12.45pm
    Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays
  2. 51 Ang Mo Kio Ave 3
    #02-02 51@AMK
    Singapore 569922.
    Mon to Sun: 10am – 10pm, last submission at 9.45pm

We’d love to hear about your experiences driving abroad, with or without an IDP. Please do leave us your comments. 

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