March 31, 2006
DRIVING IN CONNECTICUT WITH FOREIGN DRIVER'S LICENSE
By: James J. Fazzalaro, Principal Analyst
You asked if a citizen of Italy visiting Connecticut can drive here using his Italian driver's license.
A foreign driver's license is recognized as valid in other countries that have ratified certain international agreements, but it is advisable that the foreign visitor also have another document available from his home country that translates the information on his license into a language used in the country he is visiting. The visitor's Italian driver's license is valid in Connecticut for one year from the time he enters the country.
Italy and the United States are both signatories to an international convention under which the valid driver's licenses of each country are recognized in the other countries. This allows a foreign visitor to drive either personal or rental cars for a period of one year from arrival in the country. The convention, known as the United Nations Convention on Road Traffic (Geneva, 1949), specifies that the country hosting the foreign visitor may require that the visitor also have an International Driving Permit that translates the information on his driver's license into the nine official languages of the United Nations. One of these is English. However, the convention does not require the foreign visitor to carry the International Driving Permit. Whether this is required depends on the laws in the nation hosting the foreign visitor. International Driving Permits must be obtained in the person's home country before arriving in the United States.
Connecticut law does not explicitly require a foreign visitor to also have an International Driving Permit, but the Department of Motor Vehicles recommends that foreign visitors have them so that the foreign language license will be comprehensible to officials who may need to see it. If a police officer or some other official cannot understand the information on the license, the license holder might encounter problems he would not otherwise have if he had the translation document. The International Driving Permit does not substitute for the foreign driver's license, that is, presentation of the permit without the actual driver's license is not acceptable.