Your American driver’s license is not a magical document. Even though you think we are the best country in the world, it doesn’t mean that the rest of the world automatically accepts that document.
Remember, that every state has its own version.
Liquor stores in America have a special book with examples of how all fifty states’ licenses should look. Most states change the design every few years, so how can you expect a foreigner to know what’s real and what’s fake?
Your Are Not Above the Law
How much do you hate it when someone speeds all over the place, runs through red lights and then double parks?
This person is a total jerk and the only thing worse is when they have diplomatic immunity.
That’s who people in other countries feel when you act above the law when you go to visit.
Don’t do it.
You are so much more vulnerable than you could ever imagine.
Most countries love your tourist dollars, but if you become too annoying then that protection will fade away.
You don’t have diplomatic immunity.
Don’t Get Ripped Off
There are some websites that offer absolutely beautiful international licenses.
Unfortunately, they are ALL scams.
You can get one of those sweet, leatherbound folios with ten languages, but when you pull it out abroad you will be in big trouble.
The only acceptable document comes from AAA.
It is made of paper.
It looks like garbage.
But nothing else counts.
Know the Rules
Every country has different rules and reciprocities with your country.
The rules for Americans and Canadians are different.
It all depends on treaties that are constantly being renegotiated and altered.
Find out if your native license is valid and for how long in each country you will visit.
Some countries give you thirty days, some give you ninety and others give you a full year.
After that, you need to get a local license.
Play the Game
If you run into trouble abroad, realize that sometimes a bribe is just the cost of doing business.
You have a very small amount of time to bribe your way out of trouble.
When the police first pull you over, they will start the bribe pitch.
If you get high and mighty, the problem gets worse not better.
When the lieutenant or a detective shows up, the cost will grow exponentially.
A fifty dollar problem is now a five hundred dollar problem.
Once you are entered into the system at the police station, the chance to bribe your way out of trouble disappears.
At this point, you have to start bribing local politicians.
I have a friend who got into some trouble and refused to pay off the first police officers.
He didn’t want to play the game and in the end, he paid over twenty-five thousand dollars to get out of jail.
Instead of fifty at the beginning….
- Know the laws for any country you visit
- Only get the correct documents and avoid scams
- Be ready to bribe if necessary
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