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Canadian drivers may not need international license in Florida

Thursday, February 14, 2013   by: Carol Martin

As reported earlier by, on January 1, 2013, the State of Florida quietly passed legislation requiring all non U.S residents, including all Canadians, to carry a valid International Driver’s Permit (IDP) when driving their own vehicle or a rental vehicle in Florida.

Earlier today, the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) issued a release warning Canadians that they will need an International Driver's Permit to drive down in Florida.

In that release the CAA acknowledged the fact that many Canadians would be adversely affected by this Statute and said it would be petitioning the Florida government to amend the law when it comes before the State Legislature next month.

Both the Florida Department of Highway Safety (DHS) and the CAA will seek to clarify the law to make it clear that a license already written in English would be acceptable.

In its release earlier today, the CAA quoted the Florida DHS as saying that, until the law is clarified, drivers should obtain an IDP.

Not long after that release was issued to media outlests across Canada the Florida DHS issued another release saying it would not be enforcing the Statute requiring all non US residents to carry an IDP when driving in Florida.

The Florida DHS said it had come to its attention that the requirement may violate the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic (1949), an international treaty to which the United States is a signatory.

As before January 1, 2013, non U.S. residents will be able to drive their own or rented vehicles in Florida provided they have a valid driver license from another US state or thier country of residence.

Until Florida can decide how to amend the Statute without contravening the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, things will remain status quo with non US resident drivers in the State.

Shortly after that release was issued to media outlets across Canada another release went up on the Government of Canada travel documents website

"While Canada welcomes the decision to suspend enforcement, government officials will be working to try to get the statute repealed and/or this requirement dropped for Canadians," says that release.

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blue diamond 2/14/2013 11:11:59 PM Report

This is a C&P from the Globe & Mail...

Although the new rules took effect on Jan. 1, no one apparently noticed – or got arrested for flouting it – until the Canadian Automobile Association issued a warning to its members and the public. The CAA noted that “the state of Florida has passed into law a requirement for all non U.S. residents, including all Canadians, to carry a valid International Driver’s Permit (IDP) when driving their own vehicle or a rental vehicle in Florida.” State officials “say the law was passed so that Florida law enforcement officials would not be faced with documents in languages they could not read, but the law captures drivers from all countries, including Canada,” said the CAA – which also happens to be the only organization in Canada with a mandate to issue the International Driving Permit, for a fee of $25.

Seems CAA is drumming up business, by creating panic. If these types of IDP become required, it should be done at LIC. Bureau. CAA hooks you to get photos... and I bet they try to sell you their overpriced, often semi useless CAA service. And those who don't like that about CAA service, your day may come with them and their service... I do not wish that on you. BUYER BEWARE!
Looks like the FLorida police/Government are a bit more realistic than CAA. Go figure. At least cancelled the law .. IS CAA GIVING ALL A REFUND ?????????
Dead End Kid 2/15/2013 1:27:48 AM Report

Probably some junior executive with CAA came up with this money grab idea after hearing of the proposed legislative change in Florida. CAA should give everyone a refund. Sounds like a dirty deal that CAA tried to capitalize on in my opinion.
Grace 2/15/2013 5:40:21 AM Report

It's commonly reffered to as "government efficiancy".....otherwise known as an oxy moron....
ladybugg 2/15/2013 7:29:21 AM Report

CAA should have to refund to the people that did buy into it and waste their time in line getting this done. What a joke!
bruno-b 2/15/2013 7:59:00 AM Report

This new law will not effect any canadians living outside Quebec ,Florida wants licences printed in english, so for most canadians it won't effect us. This is for Francaphones with french language licences Thank's from the rest of us english speaking canadians for the aggrevation!!!!
James O'Brien 2/15/2013 9:09:59 AM Report

I purchase an IDP when driving overseas since it is routinely required for renting a car in Europe and parts of South America. I was actually pulled over for a routine security stop in Spain and the IDP was requested.

The IDP is issued to the holder of a valid driver's license and has text in multiple languages to attests that the holder has a valid license.

@ blue diamond, the provincial license bureau doesn't not issue any document equivalent to an IDP.
Sam C 2/15/2013 9:51:33 AM Report

This law was never intended to inconvenience Canadians. keep in mind that we aren't the only people who visit Florida -- people flock there from around the world, with drivers licenses issued from their home country in their official language -- German, Spanish, Portugese, Japanese, Arabic, etc.

The CAA was as surprised as everyone else by this. That they issued a Media Release advising travellers to obtain the IDP has more to do with their role in advocating for drivers and travellers. They are the ONLY authorized agency to provide IDPs.

This isn't a "cash grab" on their part -- its not like they had anything to do with the Florida legislation, after all.

Besides, anyone who can afford a Florida vacation can afford the $25 fee for an IDP.
(That's the cost of lunch for a family of 4 at Cracker Barrel.)
crashed13 2/15/2013 10:08:53 AM Report

Those cars in Florida are so much different to drive I guess.
Dead End Kid 2/15/2013 1:02:02 PM Report

It sounds like you work there Sam.
bruno-b 2/15/2013 1:19:24 PM Report

The law is for people with licences not printed in english!! People with licences printed in French ,Italian German, Spanish non english are affected!!!
R0FL0L 2/15/2013 2:49:16 PM Report

CAA is refunding your costs.

The new law was put on hold.
"The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles issued a statement on Thursday announcing the statute may be in violation of the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, and therefore the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) will defer enforcement of law."
blue diamond 2/15/2013 2:53:41 PM Report

@James O'Brien

please look at what I suggested... I know they don't, but should. One stop shopping convenience and tied to the system. I am sure CAA does not have that advantage, so if you owe the government money you do not get your permit renewed.

If these types of IDP become required, it should be done at LIC. Bureau.
JustMe1234567 2/15/2013 10:38:58 PM Report

Maybe they aren't going to refund your money after all...not in northern Ontario anyway...

What a fiasco this whole thing has been.

Nice going CAA.

blue diamond 2/17/2013 8:00:19 PM Report

What do you expect from CAA
aka: Charge Absorbitant Amounts That is why we dropped them many years ago. Too many $$$ for overpriced lack lustre tiered service. Buyer Beware
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