Driving and Road Safety Abroad

Are you thinking about driving in another country? Roads, signs, laws, and driving norms are often different abroad. Consider your safety. Make sure you have a valid license to drive as well as insurance. And remember to buckle up, no matter where you are.

Read our Country Information pages. You can find road safety info in the Travel and Transportation section. You may find more useful information from the foreign embassy or consulate website. Government tourism offices or car rental companies may also be helpful.

Keep these things in mind when planning your trip:

  • Potential hazards and dangerous road conditions
  • Local roads or areas to avoid
  • Need for spare tires, fuel, and a map
  • Local laws and driving culture
  • Local emergency numbers
  • Vehicle safety considerations, including seat belts
  • Documents to carry, including any special road permits
  • Insurance and driver’s license (see below)

International Driving Permits

  • It is illegal to drive without a valid license and insurance in most countries. Check our Country Information page for your destination. Not all countries accept a U.S. driver's license, but most accept an International Driving Permit (IDP). You can get an IDP from the AAA (American Automobile Association) before you leave. IDPs have limited validity and may need you to also have your U.S. license with you.

Auto Insurance Policies

  • In general, your U.S. auto insurance policy does NOT cover you abroad. Some policies do provide coverage when you drive to Canada and Mexico. Check with your insurance company before you go.
  • Even if your policy is valid in a country, it may not meet local insurance minimums. Make sure your policy reaches these minimums.
  • While rental companies overseas may offer car insurance, it can be for a very small amount. Consider buying insurance coverage equal to what you have at home.

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Last Updated: March 5, 2024