Industry news, Travel tips

Warning if you’re hiring a car overseas

If you’re hiring a car overseas, then there are a couple of things you should know.

Electronic drivers licences are now available in some states of Australia. They are already optional in South Australia and New South Wales. Queensland will begin trials on the Fraser Coast very soon and Victoria and WA are poised to follow suit. That’s all good, but if you expect to use them as ID on international road trips you could run into trouble.

In places like New Zealand, some renters are turning up with only their electronic version. But to hire a vehicle in New Zealand a physical licence is still required.

Forewarned is forearmed as they say. So for now, if you plan on hiring a car overseas it makes sense to keep a hard version of your Australian licence.

There are also countries where a separate international driver’s licence is required. Again, better to have this on hand before you travel and save any angst when you’re on a business trip. An International Driving Permit (IDP) lets you drive in other countries without needing to sit extra tests.

When hiring a car within Australia it pays to check with your rental company. Hertz has advised that digital licenses are accepted in NSW and SA without the hard copy, in the case of a corporate contract or a government employee. Leisure or non-contract customers still need to supply their hard copy license until further notice.

How to get an International Driving Permit

IDPs can be obtained online from the Australian Automobile Association. You can also get them from state and territory motoring bodies – such as NRMA in New South Wales, RACV in Victoria, RACQ in Queensland, RAA in South Australia and RAC in Western Australia.

Beware: if you see IDPs available anywhere else, it’s most likely you are paying for a counterfeit driving permit. Overseas companies are not permitted to issue international driving permits to Australian licence holders.

An IDP from an official Australian motoring organisation currently costs AU$42 and is valid for 12 months or until the expiry date shown on your licence, whichever is first.

To obtain an IDP you’ll need:

  • current Australian drivers licence
  • passport-size photograph of the applicant (taken in the last 6 months)
  • credit card details or payment in store

If you are applying in person, IDPs are normally available straight away. As you’d expect, if using the online application or by mail it will take longer to receive your international driving permit.

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