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Visitors with foreign driver licenses

Foreign motorists with valid driver licenses from qualifying countries* are free to drive personal or rental cars while visiting the United States as a tourist and are advised to carry an International Driving Permit.

Who is considered a tourist?
If you are visiting the United States for a period not exceeding one year and are not authorized to work or attend school in the country.

What is an International Driving Permit?

In addition to having a valid foreign driver license, visitors are advised to carry an International Driving Permit or attach an English translation to their country's national driver license prior to their arrival in the United States.
  • The International Driving Permit is translated into the nine official languages of the United Nations and serves as a translation to be used in conjunction with the visitor's valid driver license
  • It is useful in emergencies such as traffic violations or auto accidents, particularly when a foreign language is involved
  • You must obtain this permit in your home country prior to your arrival in the U.S.
A foreign visitor must also display the International Distinguishing Sign if driving a foreign car.

What is an International Distinguishing Sign?
A foreign motorist is free to drive a personal car with foreign plates, but must display the International Distinguishing Sign on the rear exterior of the vehicle (excluding Canadian and Mexican residents).
  • A standardized sign is oval with one to three black capital letters on a white background indicating where the vehicle is registered
  • This sign must be obtained in the motorist's home country

*Qualifying countries from United Nations Convention on Road Traffic, Geneva (1949), Convention on the Regulation of Inter-American Motor Vehicle Traffic, Washington, D.C., (1943) and Vienna Convention on Road Traffic (1968).