Georgia Eliminates International Driving Permit

Beginning on January 1, 2017, the International Driving Permit (IDP), will no longer be required for drivers visiting from other countries. This is an important change in the law which affects our clients, many of whom have relatives visiting from the Republic of Korea.

The previous version of the relevant statute, which is O.C.G.A. 40-5-21, required an International Driving Permit for holders of licenses from foreign countries if the native license was not in English. The 2015 version of O.C.G.A. 40-5-21 read in relevant part:

“(2) A nonresident who has in his or her immediate possession a valid driver’s license issued to him or her in his or her home state or country; provided, however, that such person would otherwise satisfy all requirements to receive a Georgia driver’s license and, if such nonresident driver’s license is in a language other than English, the nonresident also has in his or her immediate possession a valid international driving permit which conforms to and has been issued in accordance with the provisions of the Convention on Road Traffic, 3 U.S.T. 3008, TIAS 2487, or any similar such treaty, international agreement, or reciprocal agreement between the United States and a foreign nation concerning driving privileges of nonresidents;”

The new version of O.C.G.A. 40-5-21, as amended by Georgia SB 320, eliminates the need for an International Driving Permit entirely and reads:

(2) A nonresident who has in his or her immediate possession a valid driver’s license issued to him or her in his or her home state or country; provided, however, that such person would otherwise satisfy all requirements to receive a Georgia driver’s license; and provided, further, that in the case of a driver’s license issued by the driver’s licensing authority of a foreign country, a law enforcement officer may consult such person’s passport or visa to verify the validity of such license, if available.

Notice that nowhere in the statute is an International Driving Permit even mentioned. It’s clear that the legislature sought to eliminate the International Driving Permit entirely.

Bear in mind that the driver must be eligible to receive a Georgia license under Georgia law. While this element of the statute does apply to minimum age and physical requirements, it is mainly worried about immigration status. Since a person without immigration status is unable to obtain a Georgia license, this element forestalls undocumented people from using their license from their native country to drive.

It is our advice to our clients and their families that while driving in Georgia under this new law, that you should have your native drivers license and your passport with you at all times.