Driving in the USA with a foreign license

When you are planning a trip to the USA, there are a number of factors that you will need to consider. The first thing that you should do is check that your passport is valid for at least six months from the last day of your intended stay.
Once you have checked your passport is valid, the next thing to consider is your visa, as the US has a strict security policy whereby visitors to the USA must have some form of visa. For countries that are part of the Visa Waiver Program, rather than applying for a visa you can apply for an ESTA, which is a simple process and takes just minutes to complete the application form. This provides travel authorization for a trip of up to 90 days in total.

Driving in the USA

If you are planning on driving whilst you are on your trip then you should do some research about the requirements depending on the state(s) that you are planning to drive in. There are different rules for different states, so don't assume that the rules are the same across the USA. Some states require you to get an International Driving Permit (IDP), whilst in others you can just use your UK license.
You should also check the different laws that apply in the different states. In the US, you are driving on the right hand side of the road, so you might want to start off somewhere quieter before you go onto busy junctions if you are not used to driving on the right hand side of the road.

Driving in California

If you are heading to California then you do not require an International Driving Permit. You must be over 18 years old and have the license from the country you reside in. However, if you are hiring a vehicle you should check whether the hire company require you to have an IDP as well as your own license.

Driving in Texas

Whilst it is not deemed as compulsory to obtain an IDP for driving in Texas, it is advisable to get one. You apply for an IDP from your home country, not the USA. You must also have your valid driving license from your country of residence. You do not need to acquire a Texas driving license unless you are staying for more than 90 days.
If you haven’t driven in the US before then you should try to prepare yourself as much as you can. For example, when you are driving somewhere in the US, make sure that you plan your route out beforehand so that you reduce the chances of getting lost. If you are planning on driving somewhere that is quite remote then you should ensure that you have filled up with enough fuel and that you know where the next gas station is. The last thing you want to happen on your dream US road trip is to end up breaking down in the desert!

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