By: Drivers.com staff
Date: Sunday, 18. June 2006
Readers of this article should also read
Fake driving licenses a shocker
“Pssssst, hey buddy! Wanna buy a driver’s license?”
Have you received one of these in the mail or on the Internet?
“INTERNATIONAL DRIVER’S LICENSE
Need a new driver’s license?
Too many points or other trouble?
Want a license that can never be suspended or revoked?
Want ID for nightclubs or hotel check-in?
Avoid tickets, fines, and mandatory driver’s education.
Protect your privacy, and hide your identity.
The United Nations gave you the privilege to drive freely throughout the
world! (Convention on International Road Traffic of September 19, 1949 & World
Court Decision, The Hague, Netherlands, January 21, 1958)
Take advantage of your rights. Order a valid International Driver’s License
that can never be suspended or revoked.”
A friendly warning from Drivers.com . . . do not be fooled
by these messages. The arguments above appeal to the larcenous side of human nature, and you might think “I’ll try it, there’s not much to lose.”
that is, you get caught in a foreign country with a false or forged document, or at the very least, with an invalid license. Depending on regional laws,
it may be legal for these companies to produce such documents,
and to sell them to you, but it may not be legal for you
to carry them, or to use them as a driving license. Therefore, in the manner
of a classic scam, you get swindled out of your money, and you may
be breaking the law, but the swindler has done “nothing wrong.”
Here’s the truth
- An International Driving Permit is merely a translation of your regular
driver’s license into almost a dozen languages.
- It is not a driver’s license by itself.
- You must still carry a valid, regular license from your country, even if
you are also carrying an IDP.
- Yes, the United Nations created a treaty, now signed by about 150 countries,
but the IDP is not a license by itself. It is mainly to help police read
licenses written in other languages.
- You must purchase an IDP in your country of residence.
- You must have a legal license from your country of residence in order to
get an IDP.
- No, you cannot use the IDP as a “license” inside your
country of residence.
- No, you do not get a new, separate driving record with an IDP. They cannot
be used to hide violations or tickets: these are still recorded on your regular
- Most countries authorize only certain organizations to sell IDPs. Check
with your local government driver’s license authority.
- In the USA, only two organizations are allowed to sell real, legal IDPs:
the American Automobile Association (enter
your location carefully), and the American Automobile Touring Alliance, which
offers IDPs through the National Automobile Club.
- In Canada, the only authorized distributor of legal IDPs
is the CAA.
Canadian IDPs are not valid in the USA.
- In the USA and Canada, the cost of a real IDP is about $10.
The “offshore” scam
Another angle used by some of the fake IDP issuers is to use another country
as the “residence” country. This is an attempt to avoid the restriction that
you cannot use your IDP in the country you live in. This is not to be trusted.
Firstly, the U.S.
Department of State notes: “The Department of State is aware that IDPs
are being sold over the Internet and in person by persons not authorized by
the Department of State pursuant to the requirements of the U.N. Convention
of 1949. Moreover, many of these IDPs are being sold for large sums of money,
far greater than the sum charged by entities authorized by the Department of
State. Consumers experiencing problems should report problems to their local
office of the U.S. Postal Inspector, the Better Business Bureau, or their state
or local Attorney General’s Office.” Secondly, suppose you are driving in California
with a fake IDP from some other country. It shows your residence as being in
that other country. Yet the police officer that pulls you over will also ask
for your registration for the vehicle, and maybe some other piece of ID. If
your car registration shows you to be a U.S. resident, you will be caught in
a lie, and it is a crime to lie to an officer about your residence, according
Enterprise magazine. You could end up in serious trouble, and your
expensive International “Driver’s License” will be worthless.
Get more facts about the International Driving Permit and
check our list of information by country.
We’d like to hear from readers who have information or stories about IDP scams.
You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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