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How to apply for an International Driving Permit? Here are some FAQs answered


driving overseas applying for an international driving permit
Photo by Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash

Finally bitten by the travel bug? We can relate. In fact, plans for a road trip ARE being made as we speak. That said, the laws and rules for driving overseas are sometimes confusing. How do I apply for an International Driving Permit (IDP)? Do I need an International Driving Permit (IDP) or not? Can I rent a car with just my Singapore driving licence? Do all countries accept the IDP? Fret not, you’re in luck — we did all the research so you don’t have to.  

What is an International Driving Permit? 

The International Driving Permit (IDP) is the only official legal document sanctioned by the UN Convention on Road Traffic. It is a universal driving permit for leisure / holiday purposes and contains your personal information and driving terms in various languages. This helps to ease communication with car rental companies and other authorities. 

Read more: Renting a car? Look out for these 5 red (and green!) flags 
Read more: Things you must know before renting a car

I will be overseas for more than 3 months. Will I still need to apply for an International Driving Permit? 

If you are going to a country for any reason other than leisure and intend to stay for a period longer than 3 months, please contact the respective Embassy or Consulate Office of the country of destination to obtain more information on driving licence requirements.

How do I apply for an International Driving Permit?

The Automobile Association of Singapore approves all applications. You can apply online or over the counter.  

Apply online here: 

Delivery of your IDP will be made to your address reflected on your NRIC, or the one specified on the form.  

Over the counter

AA Centre
2 Kung Chong Road, #04-01, Singapore 159140
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm
Last walk in appointment: 730pm

AA @ GB Point
535 Kallang Bahru, #01-08, Singapore 339351
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, 1030am-8pm
Last walk in appointment: 730pm 

AA @ Broadway Plaza
4190 Ang Mo Kio Ave 6, #03-03, Singapore 569841
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, 1030am-8pm
Last walk in appointment: 730pm 

Do check the AA website for the latest operating hours!

How much does the International Driving Permit cost?

Application fees are S$20. 

How to apply for an International Driving Permit? Here are some FAQs answered
Photo by Holly Mandarich on Unsplash

What documents will I need to submit? 

You will need:

  • Passport-sized photo
  • Valid NRIC (front/back) / work permit / passport 
  • Valid Singapore driving license (front/back)
  • Credit/debit card for online payment of application fee ($20)

See more detailed requirements on the AA Singapore website. Please note that the processing time may be delayed if you do not provide the documents according to their requirements.  

How long does it take for my application to be approved?

The Automobile Association of Singapore recommends you apply at least 10 days in advance. If you need your IDP urgently (i.e. less than 10 working days after your application date), you can apply for it directly at the AA outlet and you will be able to collect it within the day.


I’m already overseas! Can I apply for an International Driving Permit overseas? 

Short answer: no. Long answer: technically yes, but you won’t be able to collect it in time for you to use it during your holiday.  

You’ll need your physical IDP with you when you drive overseas. So even if you applied online, you would not be able to receive your IDP. Delivery or courier services are also not applicable for overseas addresses. 

Read more: 4 ways to save money on your holiday rental car

Do I need to carry my Singapore driving licence with me when I travel overseas? 

You should carry your physical Singapore driving licence at all times when you’re overseas, regardless if you hold an IDP or not. The IDP doesn’t replace your Singapore drivers’ licence.

The Singapore Traffic Police has stopped issuing physical driving licences, but you can request for a physical copy at a S$50 fee.  


How long is my International Driving Permit valid for? 

It is valid for one year only. You will need to re-apply for an International Driving Permit once it expires. However, please note your IDP is only valid for leisure purposes. 


Why do I need to apply for an International Driving Permit? 

The IDP will come in handy in the following situations:

  • Car rental
  • Traffic violations
  • Traffic accidents
  • Motor insurance claims
  • Verify driver details with photo identification
aerial shot of great ocean road
Photo by Tim Patch on Unsplash

Which countries do not need an International Driving Permit? 

You can just use your Singaporean driving licence when driving in these countries:

Australia, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, the UK 

Which countries need an International Driving Permit?

Generally, most countries whose primary language is not English will require you to get an International Driving Permit. Popular destinations that require the International Driving Permit are:

  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • United States
  • Selected European Union countries (eg. France, Italy, Spain)

Not sure if you need one? Check the full list of countries that recognise the IDP.

Which countries do not recognise an International Driving Permit? 

Countries like Cambodia and China do not allow tourists to drive, regardless if they hold an IDP or not. 

In some instances, an IDP is not sufficient. For example, if you intend to drive in Sri Lanka, you will need to obtain a temporary driving licence at the AA Ceylon or Department of Motor Transport, using your valid Singapore driving licence AND IDP.

Please be sure to check the specific requirements of the country you plan to drive in! If you’re not sure if you need one, you can check the full list of countries that recognise the IDP.

What happens if I drive without an International Driving Permit in a country that requires one?

Your car rental company may not allow you to rent the car if you do not show your International Driving Permit. If you’re driving a relative’s car and get pulled over, you may be fined and/or subject to their local laws. Plus, in case of an accident, your car and travel insurance may be voided. 


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