How to plan your trip: US travel documents and driver’s licenses

How to plan your trip US travel documents and driver's licenses

If you never or rarely traveled to other countries before, seeing all those travel advice from official sources might seem discouraging. Luckily your US passport is among the strongest in the world, and your US driver’s license is often also sufficient for driving legally during your holiday stay. In this post you see where in Europe you can travel visa free and drive cars with your US driver’s license. I also leave some words about travel health insurances.

 

Do I need a visa?

According to the travel information portal of the US Department of State you need a tourist visa for the following countries:

  • Turkey
  • Belarus
  • Russia
  • Azerbaijan

In the other European countries your US passport enables you to visa free travel for touristic purposes:

  • Up to 90 days per half year in Ireland
  • Up to 90 days per half year in the UK
  • Up to 90 days per half year in the Schengen area (includes most EU member countries, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein)
  • Up to 90 days in Andorra
  • Up to 90 days per half year in Croatia (registration with local police required within 24 hours after arrival). Croatia has applied to join the Schengen area but is not in yet.
  • 90 days per half year in Bulgaria
  • 90 days per half year in Romania
  • 90 days per half year in Cyprus – do not enter the island via Turkish-controlled checkpoints!
  • Up to 90 days per half year in Ukraine
  • Up to 90 days per half year in Moldova (registration with local police required) – better do not enter the country via checkpoints in the separatist-controlled province Transnistria (which borders Ukraine).
  • Up to 90 days per half year in Georgia
  • Up to 180 days per year in Armenia
  • 90 days per half year in Macedonia (registration with local police required within 48 hours after arrival)
  • 90 days per half year in Albania
  • 90 days per half year in Montenegro (registration with local police required within 24 hours after arrival)
  • 90 days per half year in Kosovo
  • 90 days per half year in Serbia (registration with local police required within 24 hours after arrival)
  • 90 days per half year in Bosnia & Herzegovina (registration with local police required within 24 hours after arrival if you intend to stay longer than three days in the country)
  • 90 days in San Marino, however they are counted together with the days spent in Italy (and therefore in the Schengen area) and passport stamps at the border are just souvenirs with no legal status.

Again, the above rules apply only if the purpose of your is purely touristic or if it is a business trip. You are not allowed to pick up a job or studies. To avoid any potential trouble, be sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your planned date of return to the US and that you have enough empty pages in it for collecting all those wonderful stamps. In any case check the country information and travel warning pages of the US Department of State before you travel!

 

And health insurance?

Check with your health insurance if and for how long travels are covered. You may need to sign an additional travel health insurance which covers your destinations. Keep a proof of this insurance with you. Some countries might not let you in without such a proof. Just so you know how important it is to have health insurance for your time abroad, read this story from the Surviving Europe Blog.

 

What about my driver’s license?

Although traveling by bus, train or plane is convenient in Europe, you might choose to rent a car instead, at least for some stretches of your itinerary. In this case you need to know if your US driver’s license is accepted for the duration of your stay (you may also opt for getting an international driver’s license). I have collected the information if and for how long your US driver’s license is valid in each European country.

The following countries don’t honor your US Driver’s license (international driver’s license additionally required):

But these countries do if you are above 18 years old:

I couldn’t find reliable information for these countries:

  • Moldova
  • Georgia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Kosovo
  • Andorra
  • Montenegro

Before you rent a car for international travel within Europe, check for restrictions. Many car rental companies in Europe don’t allow you to drive into specific countries with certain car types. Or they allow it only for an additional rental fee. In some countries such as Austria, Switzerland, Slovakia and Slovenia you need to buy a vignette in order to use national roads and highways.

Please keep in mind that travel and driver’s license regulations can change. If you see above some outdated information, please feel free to leave a comment and I will update this post.

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