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Florida to demand international licence for drivers

Canadians visiting Florida may be surprised to hear they now need an International Driving Permit to motor around the state.

Under rules introduced at the start of the year, Florida requires all visitors with foreign licences to have an international permit issued by their country of residence in addition to a valid licence from home.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles says the rules apply to any vehicle, including rentals.

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The change seems to have caught many Canadians off guard.

The Canadian Automobile Association — which issues international driving permits — says Florida state officials have said the law was passed so police would not be faced with licence documents in languages they could not understand.

The CAA says the state's department of highway safety is seeking to clarify the law in Florida's upcoming legislative session, which begins next month, to make it clear that a licence already written in English would be acceptable.

A department spokeswoman told the CAA that until the law is clarified, drivers should use an international permit.

The CAA is calling on Florida to amend the law, but in the meantime, the association is also advising Canadians who plan on driving in Florida to obtain an IDP. The permit costs $25 and can be obtained through CAA offices.

An IDP translates existing driver license information into 10 languages and is valid for one year. It is not a substitute for a valid drivers licence but rather, accompanies one.

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