A couple of weeks ago many Canadians were outraged because suddenly they had heard a law had been passed which appeared to require all drivers who were not from the USA to obtain an international driving permit to drive in Florida.
Finally after much confusion in the general public, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles issued the following statement :
This information surely is a relief to many Canadians and "Snow Birds" who were already in Florida for their "Winter Stay" when the original information was released. The above statement was issued February 14th. According to VisitFlorida 3.1 million Canadians visited Florida in 2010. They suggest that despite the statement about the international permits, it is still recommended that you check with your local car insurer before you travel to Florida to make sure you will be covered, good advice regardless of the new law under review.
"During the 2012 legislative session, the Florida Legislature amended section 322.04, Florida Statutes, to require visitors from outside the United States to have an International Driving Permit in order to drive lawfully in Florida. This change took effect Jan. 1, 2013.
It has come to the Department’s attention that this requirement may violate the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic (1949), an international treaty to which the United States is a signatory. Treaties to which the United States is a party preempt state laws in conflict with them.
Therefore, the Florida Highway Patrol will defer enforcement of violations of the amended statutory section until a final determination of the alignment of the amendment with the treaty can be made. Non-resident visitors to Florida who wish to drive while here will be required to have in their immediate possession a valid driver license issued in his or her name from another state or territory of the U.S. or from their country of residence. However, the FHP will not take enforcement action based solely on the lack of an International Driving Permit."
Driving Out Of Province & Your Insurance
Any time your vehicle is out of your country of residence for more than a couple of days, it always is recommended to check with your insurance company to see what their limitations are (if any) on out of country/province use. Sometimes they just put a note in the file acknowledging you will be using the vehicle out of country or even province, however other times if the trip exceeds a couple of weeks they may decide to add a small charge. Some companies do this after 3 weeks, others after six. I also have some insurers who don't charge anything. Each insurance company has their own rules on how they handle out of province exposure, so make sure to call and find out if you're with the best company for your needs - don't get caught by surprise. You might even save some money by finding out about the options!
Laws are different everywhere, so it's always better to be safe rather than sorry. Make sure that you do not have any issues if you have an accident or claim - always check with your insurance provider before leaving town.
What your friends companies do may vary from your own - don't take a chance.
Want an International Permit Anyway?
For those of you who decide you want to get an International Permit anyway, it's not difficult or that big a deal.
For all the hassle of following what the Floridians will be doing with this law, you may want to consider just picking one up. You have to be 18 to get one, with a valid canadian drivers license. The permit costs $25. You can contact CAA to find out more.
For people who are currently out of Canada, like our many residents currently in Florida, you can also request one by mail! CAA is the only organization in Canada authorized to issue an International Driving Permit.
- Were you in Florida when news of this situation came up?
- What are you going to do, pick up a permit anyway, or wait for the law to be amended?