Most big cities in the United States have good public transportation system: trains, buses, taxis, you name it. Ride sharing services such as Uber and Lyft is also an option. But most suburbs and areas in the US don’t have good public transportation infrastructures.
If you will live in the US to work or to settle for good, you will need to rent a car in the first few weeks after your arrival until you can buy your own car. If you have family or friends that can lend you a car while you establish your finances and credit report, that’s great!
But you will still need a driver’s license to do that.
When we looked for an apartment to rent in the US, my wife and I needed to rent a car. And when we arrived, we needed to rent a car for about 2 weeks until we bought a car.
For this purpose, I needed an International Driving Permit (IDP). Thankfully, it is very easy to get one through the Automobile Association of the Philippines. I applied for my IDP in April 2015 and it was a breeze. It took me only 45 minutes upon arrival to process my application and get my IDP.
Here’s how to apply for an International Driving Permit.
Make sure you have a current Philippine driver’s license.
The International Driving Permit is valid only for a maximum of one year. Your IDP will follow the expiry date of your Philippine driver’s license in case it expires in less than a year. But if your license expires in 2 years, your IDP will still be valid only for one year.
I intend to apply for a driver’s license in Nashville, TN so one year is all I need. If I need another IDP in the future, I might have to apply for one in the US.
Prepare the requirements.
No need to fuss over the requirements, it is very easy to prepare them. Here’s the list of requirements:
- AAP Regular membership (P2,000)
- Original and photocopy of valid Philippine Driving License
- Two pieces 2”x2” or passport size color ID picture, white background
- Foreign nationals, dual citizens must present the original passport, photocopies of pages showing date of last arrival. Permanent residents, must present passport and Alien Certificate Registration along with requirements no. 1, 2 and 3.
- Authorization and any valid ID of representative in case of non-appearance
- Processing fee Php 500
Go to the nearest office of the Automobile Association of the Philippines.
I don’t know the peak season of the application for IDP, but I went to the main office at 28 EDSA, Greenhills, San Juan City 1500. It’s near the showroom of Ford, Porsche, and other high-end cars in EDSA-Greenhills. Parking is at the back of the building. For a list of their branches, visit their website at http://www.aaphilippines.org/.
Fill out the forms, wait till they verify your information.
Upon submitting your application form, one of the clerks will type your information onto their system and they will ask you to verify the information.
Proceed to the cashier to pay the applicable fees.
I paid PhP 2,500 to cover the AAP application fee and P500 for the IDP processing fee. The good thing is, as an AAP member, you can nominate up to 2 cars/vehicles, which can avail of the AAP free towing services. This will come in handy if you ever meet any accident or emergency while driving.
In my case it didn’t take long. I just sat and tried to read a chapter of a novel I was into. But after reading five pages, one of the staff called my name.
Review your information, then go home.
Make sure to check the information they entered on your IDP and on the paper that they will release you. When you use it abroad, make sure to show it, together with your existing Philippine drivers license.
In my case, I was able to drive around Nashville during our apartment-hunting, with the help of a good car — a Chevrolet Cruze, which was a little too hi-tech for me at first, and with a Garmin GPS. Without the Garmin, I would have been totally lost in Nashville. As it happened, I enjoyed driving Interstate 40 and exploring nearby areas in Nashville. But, that’s another story for another time.