As a rule of thumb, you need an international driver’s license when you are driving in countries that use a non-Latin alphabet – for instance countries that use Chinese characters, or Cyrillic, or Arabic script. But there are exceptions; in Dubai, for instance, you don’t need one. A quick Google will tell you if such a license is required.
That said, there are some countries where you are technically required to have an International Driver’s License even though no one ever asks for it. In such countries, not having an international license can be used as an excuse to mess with you. For instance, no one ever asks for an international license in Italy. That said, I once saw a poor fellow at the Rome airport who had a prepaid low car rental rate denied based on the fact that he didn’t have an international license.
So, when in doubt, get one. It’s cheap and just require some paperwork, there is no test.
Actually, it’s technically not a license, just a permit. Which is why it’s so darn easy to get one.
–> Back to the guide