New Florida Law Requires International Driving Permits

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A curious new Florida law came quietly into effect on January 1, 2013, that requires non-Americans to possess an international driver’s permit, reports The Toronto Star.

Although intended to aid law enforcement in their ability to read licenses in foreign languages, the law has received unexpected backlash from Canadians and British tourists who flock to the Sunshine State each spring. The law has resulted in significant commentary from media and international travel agencies like the Canadian Automobile Assocciation (CAA), which states that Florida regulators are working to alter the law so that English foreign licenses may be accepted without the international permit.

This has brought an interesting twist into my usually benign Disney research trips. In two weeks time I depart for Walt Disney World with a van load of Canadians. Chantale, her son, her cousin, her mother and my two sons are headed for a March Break Disney extravaganza. So the debate begins as to whether we have the time or the inclination to spend the $80 required for the two of us to get the international licence. That’s $25 each for the license, plus the required passport photos.

The only clear message from this story is that nothing is yet clear at all. Law enforcement officials have announced suspension of enforcing the new law while it remains so contentious. Tourism officials seem to be pushing visitors to get the permit out of fear of reprimand. Law makers seem anxious to change the law in order to minimize its effect on tourism.

If you are a subscriber to this blog, chances are you take your travel planning seriously. So it seems reasonable to suggest that having the permit is a good idea. Do so and feel confident that your Disney trip won’t involve a visit to Disney jail – although wouldn’t that be interesting research?

The permit seems notably more important for our many subscribers from Quebec and Brazil, where English is likely not the language of your credentials. Permits can be obtained in Canada from your local CAA office.

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Posted on February 24, 2013

12 Responses to “New Florida Law Requires International Driving Permits”

  • I find this line particular funny, it seems they’re both scared of one another:

    “Tourism officials seem to be pushing visitors to get the permit out of fear of reprimand. Law makers seem anxious to change the law in order to minimize its affect on tourism.”

  • And for any UK residents reading this post:

    The permit can be purchased from Post Offices – though not from all, please check the website for your nearest branch offering the service. You go in to the branch in person, with necessary documentation and passport photos (check online for specific requirements) and receive the permit at that time.
    Alternatively the AA is offering a ‘send away’ service, in which everything can be arranged by post, although will incur an additional £2.50 handling fee.

    The current cost (excluding AA handling fee, and the cost of having new passport photos taken, should you need them) for an IDP in the UK is £5.50

    • Good post. I’m going to Cancun, and I notice from the Auto-Europe website that “an international driver’s licence is also recommended for a car hire in Cancun”, so it is useful info to know outside of Disney.

  • This is all very confusing! This is a press release from the Florida Dept of highway safety and motor vehicles saying this won’t be enforced.

    http://www.flhsmv.gov/news/pdfs/PR021413.pdf

  • No point in getting one as it has been suspended. A waste of time and money when it is not needed.

  • I too read an article in the Daily Mail that said although this law had been introduced it was not being enforced by the police as it goes against the Geneva convention which the USA are part of. It went on to say that it was currently under review. My worry is what if the Car Hire companies start asking for it in order to get your car. As the poster above said a waste of money if not needed legally.

  • Canadians may want to get a confirmation from their automobile insurance companies about whether ine insurers require them to have an IDP. It’s true that the Florida Highway Patrol has said that they will not be enforcing the requirement for an IDP, pending a review of the law by the Florida legislature. But, insurance companies like to look for reasons to not have to pay a claim. The requirement for an IDP is still on the books unless and until the Florida legislature repeals it, and if a Canadian is involved in a car accident in Florida with their own car, they may not want to hear from their insurer that their claim is being denied because they were not legally licensed to drive in Florida if they were not in possession of an IDP.

  • Could you kindly update us if there is a change in the law again?
    Thanks!

  • The Florida Legislature couldn’t repeal it fast enough even while still in the middle of the 2013 Legislative Sesson. The repeal passed both houses March 27 and was signed by the Governor on April 2. It also became the first law for 2013, Chapter No. 2013-1. For more see http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=50779

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