Learning the Requirements to Drive Overseas
As you have probably seen from movies and television shows, driving in a different country can be very different from driving in the United States. If you are moving to a new country, you will absolutely need to learn the rules of the road for that area. The last thing you want to do is break the law because you are unaware of a certain law or ordinance. With a little bit of research, you should be able to handle it without a problem.
Before you make your move to a new country, research what it takes to get a driver’s license there, how to renew it, and what kind of insurance you can get once you get there. You probably already have a valid driver’s license in the United States, however that is valid for their laws. While it is ok to use that if you are just visiting overseas, if you plan on living their permanently you will need to obtain a license from that country. Check the website for the department of motor vehicles for the country you are moving to, and see what documentation and other steps they require for you to get a license. You might even find that there will be a language barrier, do the best you can to learn the language, and recognize the symbols that they use for signs, many of which are used internationally. Also, contact your current insurance company and see if they will cover you while you are abroad. If they do not, you will need to shop around for new insurance. Make sure you know what insurance is required to drive in your new land.
Another route that you can take is obtaining an International Driving Permit. This is a document that is valid in over 150 countries around the world, some needing a different form of the IDP, and contains all of the pertinent information that local authorities will need in ten different languages. There are restrictions for the permit however. Most of the time an IDP cannot be issued to you more than six months in advance of the date you will need it, which will be the date you move in. Furthermore, it is only valid for 12 months. While this is not a permanent solution, it will give you some time to brush up on laws to make sure you can get your driver’s license in your new land.
Practice to Get it Right
Nothing will get you prepared quite like practice. A lot of different countries have their own unique laws regarding what you can and cannot do on the road. For example, in a number of countries they drive on the right side of the road instead of the left. Also find out laws regarding right of way, both for pedestrians and for traffic stops. If you find a new friend with a car in a new land, ask if they will go for a drive with you and have them critique your habits to see if you are valid for their rules. If not, you can still go for practice runs and make sure you are paying attention to anything you might be doing that was legal in the United States, but illegal in your new home.
If you are buying a new car once you get to your new country, it may only come with a manual transmission, so you will need to learn how to drive that way. A manual transmission requires a lot more things for a driver to do than an automatic and it takes a lot of practice to get good at. The bottom line is, practice makes perfect, and so make sure you have the time to do so. If you are used to driving on the right side of the road with an automatic transmission, and have to learn how to drive on the left with a manual transmission, it will almost seem like a completely new experience, you will need time to assimilate.