Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Nuts and Bolts: International Driving Permit

Here's what you need  for an International Driving Permit. If you think I am writing this now because I got it done a long time ago and have just been putting it off you'd be wrong. I don't like for you to be wrong, so here is the truth. We have 4 weeks to go and I am just now sending them, today, in fact they are still sitting right here in my kitchen waiting to go out with the mail. They better be telling the truth when they say 10-15 days for processing! Don't do this to yourselves, folks.

Ok, so here's what you're going to need... all of this can be found on the application but it's much more inspiring listening to me drone on about it in my fanciful way, don't ya think? That's what I thought.

1. Application. There are several variations of the application online. Some of them are by 2nd and 3rd parties who want to offer to do it for you for a "minimal fee." Do *what* for you? Lick a  stamp? Newsflash! Stamps have stick'em on the back, they don't have to be licked anymore (it's the future, bask in it)! And unless they are going to come to my house personally and take the pictures and fill out the application while at the same time serving me mixed drinks I'm pretty sure their $50 fee isn't worth it.

2. Two Passport Photos of your lovely mug. (short for "mugshot" which is exactly what those passport photos look like). This is the portion of the process where you have to leave your home. We all know how I loathe having to leave home, which is why this whole process has taken so long, but it got done... at Walgreens, my fave place for photos, no line, lovely (read "awesome Muzak of early nineties tunes") music wafting over the airways and tons of amazing "As  Seen on T.V. products" like Ov' Gloves (try them, you won't be disappointed).

3. A Photo-copy of your current Driver's License, the front and the back. These copies must be signed. So ours was literally a piece of paper with the front of our driver's license, signed. And then another piece of paper with the back, signed. Lots of wasted paper there, but I am only one woman. Make sure your license is VALID at least 6 months past the time you need the I.D.P. If it's not, talk to your local D.P.S. and ask for a longer time for expiration.

4. Money. Because everything. single. thing. costs money. The fee is $15 (plus $3 S&H...these drivers licenses must be *really* heavy). Check/Credit Card/Money Order, etc.

 If you have gotten this far and, in reading the fine print, the application is asking for more than $15  ask yourself these questions:

 "Am I in my pajamas?"
 "Have I been in my pajamas throughout this entire process, including having my photo taken?"
 If so...
 "was there also a large margarita in my hand the entire time?"

If the answer to any of these questions is "no" and you're not the type to run errands in your pajamas with a thermos full of Pina Coladas, then you need to back track to #1 on my list, and START OVER.

5. Well, find your long white envelopes, write the address on the front, get out your FOREVER stamps, maybe more than one depending on how heavy all of that stuff is, and send that sucker!  Hope and pray that since you waited to the last minute that it gets to your house in time and if not know that your dear sweet family/friends will mail it to you at your new address, which you still don't have memorized.

Happy Driving!


  1. Good to know you have plenty of foam darts for your air gun. I can take those.

    I find it annoying that it only takes a day to change my maiden name to married with a marriage certificate but I have to allow 3 months, go to court and pay over $300 to change it back.

    Hope you're really carrying pina coladas around. This kind of paperwork should only be done with a decent buzz.

    1. That's really weird about the name thing. I mean, it's *your* name. Why do you have to pay to get it back? Weird.
      No Pina Coladas here, just a big 'ol pat on the back for another item checked off the list.

  2. I never did my international driving permit. Don't tell anybody ;)

    1. Well, after getting pulled over twice last time we were there we decided not to risk it anymore... how hard is it to just get a Polish license? I have been discouraged from doing so, but it just seems easier.

    2. And we were pulled over for forgetting to turn on our lights, they just reminded us and let us go. And the other time we were actually in an area where cars are forbidden from driving but we didn't see the sign. 100 zloty to the obliging officer and we were good to go.

    3. Martin wants me to point out that the 100zl was LEGAL PAYMENT, not a bribe, so as not to perpetuate the myth that everyone in Poland can be paid off for the right amount of money. ;)

  3. You can drive in PL on your American license. If you become a resident, you are supposed to get a Polish license (you have 6 months to do it, I think). With a valid US license, you'd only need to take the written exam. I don't know if they have an English version now, but my friend took it with a translator - a translator who told him all the answers ;)

    Here comes the problem - they told me that I'd have to give up my American license. I told them that I need it. They said - Oh don't worry. We just keep it here for you. You can come anytime and exchange your Polish license for the American one. That is, in fact, not true. They send your American license back to the US where it is invalidated. My friend who found himself in this situaton repeated the driver's exam while in the US and now has 2 licenses again :)

    I don't understand what the risk is when the police pull you over. I haven't been pulled over in a long time (and I haven't paid a bribe in about 10 years) but I just gave them my American license. My car is even registered in my name (so I am obviously a resident) and I didn't have any problems with the DMV or the police. OK, one police offer asked me if I needed a Polish license and I told him I didn't. He didn't seem to know or care and I went on my way :)

    To ease the transition between American driving regulations and habits and Polish driving regulations and habits, I took "driving lessons" with a taxi driver. We drove around the city first he in his car and then I in mine and he gave me pointers and explained the differences in the regulations. It was money well-spent.

    1. Martin was under the impression that he could just use his U.S. license if he was only visiting and both times they told him that it was incorrect and that he needed to get the correct license. They were pretty adamant. Maybe it just depends on who pulls you over. So, I will not be getting a Polish license if they take my American one. What a pain if you go back to the U.S. to visit! But then it's only the written test, that's nice...

      Driving with a taxi driver is a great idea. Did you find one that spoke fairly proficient English? Is that how it worked? Or were you speaking enough POlish to understand what he was saying? Luckily Martin has accumulated quite a bit of driving time in Poland over the last few years and can help me out. He always explains the lights and signs when we visit and hopefully, other than just the general "feel" of driving there, I can pick up the rest up pretty quickly. In America, your car is the source of so much freedom. I can't imagine not being able to go somewhere when I want/need to all because I can't drive (and dont want to take all the kids on the tram).

  4. So ours was literally a piece of paper with the front of our driver's license, signed. And then another piece of paper with the back, signed. Lots of wasted paper there, but I am only one woman.

    International Driver's License Online