International Driving Permits

A valid driver‘s license from your home country when carried with an International Driver’s Permit will allow you to legally drive in the U.S. An International Driver‘s Permit is only issued in the driver‘s country of origin.  Although it is not required in the State of Massachusetts, it is suggested for those whose foreign driver‘s license is not printed in English.  We suggest you to obtain one before leaving your home country to come to Wellesley.  See the Driving in the U.S. section for more general information about driving in the U.S. 

Here are some typical Questions and Answers that may be helpful.

What is an International Driving Permit?

An International Driving Permit serves primarily as a translation of a person‘s foreign driver‘s license into ten (10) major languages. The Permit itself is a small (4" X 6"), gray covered, multi-page booklet with white pages, containing the driver‘s first and last name, the date and place of birth and the person‘s permanent address in the country of issuance. A Permit also contains a photograph of the driver and his/her signature. Other than the page containing the personal information and photograph, each page conveys the same information but in a separate language.

Who issues International Driving Permits?

Permits are only issued in the driver‘s country of origin and only by a membership type automobile association authorized to issue such Permits by an International Road Traffic Convention to which the United States is a party. A fee is charged for the issuance of the Permit. An International Driving Permit is usually valid for a one (1) year period and is not valid in the country of issuance.

Does an International Driving Permit confer driving privileges in Massachusetts?

No. It does not confer any driving privileges. The Permit is not a substitute for the person‘s valid driver license.  A driver who is licensed in another country must carry his/her valid foreign driver‘s license when driving in Massachusetts.

Is a foreign licensed driver required to carry an International Driving Permit when driving in Massachusetts?

No. It is suggested, however, that he/she does if the foreign license is not printed in the English language.

Does Massachusetts honor valid foreign driver’s licenses from any country?

No. Massachusetts will only honor valid licenses from countries identified in the current Massachusetts Driver‘s Manual. Most of the identified countries are parties to one of the two major international road or automotive traffic conventions the U.S. recognizes. Germany and Switzerland are not parties to the 1949 Road Traffic Convention but their driver licenses are honored based on reciprocal agreements. At present, validly licensed drivers from some of the former USSR republics are also recognized. Note: Some countries that issue International Driving Permits include in the Permit a list of countries that the holder is authorized to drive in. Be aware that other Road Traffic Conventions that the U.S. is not a party to have a more expansive list of countries. You should be guided by the countries listed in Appendix C.

What is an International Driver’s License and how does it differ from an International Driving Permit?

The Registry of Motor Vehicles does not recognize as valid any document purporting to be an International Driver‘s License, or any other document that confers driving privileges, unless issued by the government agency that issues such licenses in the driver‘s country of residence and the driver is validly licensed in that country. The governments of some countries issue an international version of their own domestic driver license to their validly licensed drivers who indicate a need for a driver‘s license that will be recognized in other countries. The international version of the domestic driver license includes translations (including into English). Even if a country issues an international version of its own domestic license, the license will only be honored in Massachusetts if the country is identified in Appendix C. Remember, a foreign driver cannot drive in Massachusetts unless his/her driver‘s license is issued by the government of a country identified in Appendix C. A validly issued International Driving Permit, while not required, merely serves to confirm that a license was issued and translates the relevant information on the license. It is not a substitute for a valid license and the license must be carried when operating in Massachusetts.  A foreign visitor from one of the countries or territories listed here may legally drive on the roads of the Commonwealth on his or her own country‘s license (limited to a licensed driver who is at least 18 years old and limited to a vehicle of the type covered by the license) for up to one (1) year from the date of arrival. The visitor may operate his or her own private passenger vehicle if displaying valid license plates from the visitor‘s country (and meeting insurance standards set by the Commonwealth if operated longer than 30 days) for up to one (1) year from the date of arrival. You may access the contents of the Massachusetts Driver‘s Manual on the RMV web site at: