What is an International Driving Permit?
An International Driving Permit or IDP works alongside your home country’s driver’s license and is required in Uruguay for foreign visitors. An International Driving Permit works as an additional document and is a translation of the critical information on your current driver’s license. The International Driving Permit contains your driver information in many languages. Although it contains accurate information, remember that it is not a substitute for your driver’s license or other identification. However, it is legally required to drive in Uruguay as a visitor.
What is the difference between an International Driving Permit (IDP) and an International Driving License (IDL)?
An International Driving Permit is a small grey booklet marginally larger than a passport containing a translation of your original driving license in 10 languages, including English, French, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish. It is recognized by 141 countries worldwide and is valid for one year.
In comparison, an International Driving License is not a legal document and cannot be used to drive in foreign countries or instead of an IDP.
How does an International Driving Permits work in Lebanon?
In Lebanon, you are permitted to drive using your driving license so long as it is valid for two years and written in the Roman alphabet during your stay as a tourist.
Since an IDP can work as a translated version of your driving license, there are many stops and checkpoints in Lebanon due to heightened security, so it is an excellent idea to have an IDP to avoid any hassle with the language barrier. Most vehicle rental companies will request that you have an IDP to rent a car.
You can drive with an IDP in Lebanon for three months (the length of your tourist visa), and if you intend on staying after that, you must acquire a Lebanese driving license. The only exception Lebanon has is for visitors with driving licenses that countries have issued with the Gulf Cooperation Council. An IDP is only a translation of your current driving license; you must always have your license.
How do I get an International Driving Permit for Lebanon?
You can do the application process for your IDP online through our website. You must provide the required documents when applying for your international driving permit. Below is a list of what you will need:
- Your own valid driver’s license
- A passport photo
- A completed valid form
- Your signature
- A debit or credit card to pay the application fee
How much does an IDP cost?
You can see our prices on our pricing page.
How long does it take to get an IDP?
When applying for an IDP for your trip to Lebanon, it is best to allow yourself 30 days, as the delivery time can take between 2 and 30 days. When you apply online, you will receive a digital copy of your International driving permit in your email after around 2 hours.
If you are in a hurry to get your IDP, you can apply for the express service and receive your digital IDP within 20 minutes.
United Nations agreement on road traffic
The United Nations road traffic agreement is an agreement between UN countries to authorize international driving permits. There have been three international motor conventions so far. The first happened in 1926 and was held in Paris, followed by one in 1949 held in Geneva, and the last in 1968 held in Vienna.
This agreement ensures that all IDPs being issued are authorized by the UN, ensuring they comply with the UN traffic conventions. It also agrees that countries can approve specific automotive authorizations to issue valid IDPs on the government’s behalf.
Benefits Of Carrying An IDP In Lebanon
Although carrying an International Driving Permit in Lebanon is not necessarily a legal requirement, it is highly recommended.
Functionality as an ID
IDPs are a convenient travel document as it doubles as identification documents. This is advantageous if you want to keep your passport under lock and key due to security considerations. An IDP can be used instead of a national ID card, especially if it is in a language that is not internationally used.
Quicker traffic authority stops
Traffic police may have trouble deciphering your driver’s information on your license during a routine traffic stop. Having an IDP ensures that officers can quickly note down your particulars and send you on your way. This may be especially handy during the unfortunate event of an emergency or motor misfortunes.
Car rental companies
Car rental companies worldwide require you to have an International Driving Permit and a valid driving license to rent a car. This is due to the United Nations recognizing an IDP as a valid driving permit. Having an IDP will ensure that your valuable vacation time isn’t wasted on trying to convince a conservative car rental agency of the validity of your foreign driver’s license.
Driving Requirements For Noncitizens
Short-term vs. long-term visitors
Visitors staying in Lebanon for the time of their tourist visa (3 months) can use their IDP while driving in the country for this period. This rule does not apply to visitors driving with a driver’s license issued by the Gulf Cooperation Council.
If you intend on extending your visa or are moving to Lebanon for more than three months, you will need to apply for a license in Lebanon.
When Do I Need To Get A Lebanese Driver’s License?
Anyone staying longer than three months must get a Lebanese driver’s license. You must complete the following steps to get a license in Lebanon.
- Make sure to have all the required documents, such as; 1 passport-size photo, your Id and a photocopy of it, a valid visa, proof of residence, and pay fees of 12’000 LBP ($7.89) for stamps and 26’000 LBP ($17.20) for application.
- You must then sign up for a Lebanese driving school, where you are expected to attend 45 hours of theory classes. These will cover Lebanese traffic rules, defensive driving, and first aid.
- When you have completed your 45 hours of theory classes, you will need to sit for a computerized theory test exam, where you are required to get 24 correct answers.
- After passing your theory test, you must complete 20 hours of practical lessons with an instructor from an approved driving school and then complete a 25-minute driving exam. Once all steps are complete, you will then be able to get a license in Lebanon.
Renewing Your IDP Or Original Driving License In Lebanon.
You cannot renew an IDP while driving in Lebanon, as they can only be used for three months.
If you wish to renew your Lebanese driving license, you can visit the car registration office in Dekwene and file a license renewal form. You will also have to bring a passport-sized photo, your old driving license, your id, and a photocopy, and pay the required fees.
Vehicle Rental In Lebanon
Like in many other countries, renting a vehicle in Lebanon is generally considered the best way of traveling if you want to explore Lebanon. Although public transport is available, it is not always the most reliable and convenient way of traveling, and car rental is relatively reasonable in Lebanon.
Many well-known vehicle rental agencies are available in Lebanon, most of which are based at Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport, making collecting your rental car very easy. Some rental car agencies public from the airport are; Hertz, Avis, Sixt, and Europcar.
As with any purchases or rentals, it is always best to shop around to find the best price for what you are looking for. Most large rental companies will have online websites where you can browse the various cars available for rental and find one that suits your needs and budget.
The minimum driving age for car rental with most rental agencies is usually 21, but most agencies will charge a young driver’s fee if the person renting the car is between 21-25. This is primarily due to the larger insurance risk with inexperienced drivers driving on unfamiliar roads.
The documents that are usually required when renting a vehicle include;
- Your own valid driver’s license, which must be valid for two years
- Your International Driving Permit
- A form of identification such as your passport
- A valid debit/credit card to pay
Vehicle rental costs
Vehicle rental costs vary in all countries depending on several factors, such as the type and size of the vehicles required, the driver’s age, the insurance required, and any add-ons requested such as built-in GPS, car seats for children, or wifi.
Vehicle rental is generally considered quite affordable in Lebanon, with many tourists choosing to rent a vehicle to fully be able to explore everything Lebanon has to offer.
Car insurance policy
Car insurance is mandatory in Lebanon, with third-party fire and theft being the minimum legally required insurance policy you can have. Most rental agencies will need you to have fully covered insurance on a rental vehicle. You may have to pay the insurance fee daily, depending on the rental company’s policy and the time you wish to rent a car.
The cost of insurance can vary on several factors such as the type of insurance needed, whether it is included with the vehicle or you need to acquire it separately, and the driver’s information, such as age.
Driving without adequate insurance in Lebanon can get you into trouble with local authorities. Your responsibility is to ensure your vehicle is insured, even when driving a rental car. If caught driving without insurance, you can face penalties such as fines. If you are in an accident while driving without insurance, you will be expected to pay the total cost of repairs and are liable to be sued for any personal damages that occurred.
Hire car driving tips
- As with any time you rent any vehicle, ensure the car fits the purpose you intend on renting it for. For example, if you are driving outside of Beirut, it may be better to get an SUV-style car due to the high mountains and rugged terrain.
- Always check the interior and exterior of a vehicle before accepting it, making sure everything is in good working condition, tire pressure is good, and oil doesn’t need to be changed, etc.
- Make sure to inspect and note any damage already on the inside or outside of the vehicle so you are not held liable for previous injuries.
- It is a good idea to take a phone number from the rental agency and find out the policy in case of an emergency. If your hire car breaks down, will you be supplied with another one?
Driving And Safety In Lebanon
Lebanon has been considered one of the safest countries in the Middle East since the end of its civil war. Lebanon is neighboured by Israel, Syria, and Iraq, where tensions can run relatively high. It is wise to be aware of the security risks when traveling in Lebanon, to be best able to protect yourself.
Protests within the state are becoming increasingly popular, and tourists are advised to avoid large political gatherings or demonstrations where violence can escalate quickly. It is also advisable to note that weapons are widespread in Lebanon and are often out of state control. The use of firearms during arguments or while celebrating is common.
Travel within Lebanon may be restricted at times, including the roads to and from the airport and the capital city of Beirut. Foreigners visiting Lebanon are advised that UN peacekeepers are patrolling the area. If you intend on heading to the south of Lebanon near the Israeli coast, there will be military checks due to high tensions between Israel and Lebanon.
Landmines and other unexploded ordnance are present in Lebanon and are not always clearly marked. Visitors are advised to stay on the main roads.
Road rules in Lebanon
The road rules that are present in Lebanon are not super strict, but they are implemented. There are often authorities around Lebanon, so drivers must carry documents, such as your driving license, IDP, insurance, rental vehicle documents, and passport and visa.
Using your hazard lights in the case of a breakdown is mandatory in Lebanon, so always make sure both of these are working on your vehicle.
The minimum age to drive in Lebanon is 18. Some rules to keep in mind are:
- Lebanese authorities implement a strict zero-tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol
- All passengers must wear seat belts at all times in vehicles – children under five must be securely strapped into a car seat, and children under ten are not permitted to sit in a front seat
- Tinted windows are entirely banned in Lebanon
- You must drive on the right-hand side of the road
- You are not allowed to drive below 20km/h and can drive at a max limit of 50km/h in urban and 100 km/h in rural areas
Top 3 Places to Visit in Lebanon.
Lebanon has a Mediterranean-type climate, giving the country hot sunny summers and mild, wet winters.
Lebanon’s capital city Beirut is home to one of the most culturally diverse cities in the Middle East. Filled with sprawling neighborhoods catering to students, bohemian-type areas with art galleries and bars, to the recently rebuilt region of downtown Beirute, just walking around this city is an experience.
For anyone interested in Lebanon’s history, head to Martyr’s square to see the memorial built to represent all who lost their lives during Ottoman rule. The court was a dividing line in Beirut during the Civil War and is now the main area for protests.
Baalbek is a huge source of pride for many Lebanese people and is home to one of the only preserved sites in the country, The Roman Ruins. The ancient site is home to the historical temples believed to have been home to Venus, Ishtar, and Bacchus and was inhabited as early as 9000BCE. Don’t miss out on your chance to see this archaeological wonder.
This charming coastal city is a popular weekend spot for locals and tourists. Its main attractions are the Old Souks and the castle in the center, which always attack tourists during the day. Jbeil has a busy and vibrant nightlife to enjoy as well.
What should I do if I lose my IDP in Lebanon?
If you have lost your IDP in Lebanon, and it is mandatory for you to have one, you will not be able to drive until your replacement has arrived. Contact us as soon as possible and get your replacement sent your way.
Is it safe to drive in Lebanon?
Driving in Lebanon is considered relatively safe as long as you stick to the speed limit and follow the road rules and laws in the country. The driving conditions of the roads may not be the best, especially outside of the cities, as road maintenance isn’t the highest standard, so be cautious for potholes.
Is it safe to drive in Lebanon at night?
Driving within the main cities is fine at night, but try not to stray too far into neighborhoods or outside of cities for safety. Within Beirut, security is usually don’t a huge concern, but it is always better to be cautious. Avoid mountainous areas at night.