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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > November 2012 > Scam Alert: International Driver’s License

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Scam Alert: International Driver’s License

Drivers: Beware of ads offering an “International Driver’s License.” In Ohio, there is no such thing as an international driver’s license.    

The Federal Trade Commission reports that scam artists charge $65 to $350 for fraudulent international drivers’ licenses. The targets often are non-native speakers who don’t possess state-issued drivers’ licenses or identification.

Beware of ads in foreign-language newspapers that direct you to websites or local store fronts to purchase these licenses. People who call themselves notarios or immigration experts may charge you for an international driver’s license, but it is invalid in Ohio and elsewhere.

If you are using an “international driver’s license” in place of a state-issued license, you should stop immediately. It is illegal, and if caught, you will face criminal charges.  

Drivers also should beware of businesses offering to sell license plates or car insurance for high advance fees. Scammers may pose as trustworthy businesses and charge $700 to $800 for license plates and insurance. But after the consumer pays, the “business” fails to deliver and the consumer is left with nothing.  

To avoid scams:
  • Do not purchase an international driver’s license; there is no such thing.
  • Do not go to a notario, notario public, or notary public to obtain a driver’s license. Notarios cannot provide you with a valid license in Ohio.
  • Do not purchase a driver’s license online.
  • Beware of companies that charge hundreds of dollars up front for license plates or insurance.
An international driver’s license, which is not a valid document, should not be confused with an International Driving Permit (IDP), which functions as an official translation of a U.S. driver’s license into 10 foreign languages.  

IDPs are not intended to replace valid U.S. state licenses and should only be used as a supplement to a valid license. An IDP is honored in more than 150 countries outside the U.S., but it must be accompanied by a valid driver’s license at all times. It has no value on its own and is not a substitute for a driver’s license.  

Valid IDPs can be purchased only from the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the National Automobile Club (NAC), formerly the American Automobile Touring Alliance. These organizations are allowed only to sell permits to drivers older than 18 who possess valid drivers’ licenses issued by a U.S. state or territory. AAA and the NAC charge $15 for each International Driving Permit.

To obtain a valid state driver’s license or a state license plate, contact the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles at or 614-752-7500. To obtain car insurance, contact a local licensed insurance company.

If you believe you have been a victim of a scam, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office by calling 800-282-0515 or visiting