Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Alert: The following services will be unavailable on Saturday, January 5, 2013 from 12 a.m. (midnight) to 6 a.m. CST due to system maintenance.

Driving in Wisconsin with a foreign driver's license

Foreign motorists from any of the countries who are party to the United Nations Convention on Road Traffic (Geneva, 1949) or the Convention on the Regulation of Inter-American Motor Vehicle Traffic (Washington, D.C., 1943) who visit the United States as tourists can drive legally using their valid domestic driver's license for a period not to exceed one year from the date of arrival. They may drive either a personal or rental car.

Tourists from countries who are party to the Geneva Convention and the Regulation of Inter-American Motor Vehicle Traffic can also legally drive their own private cars bearing valid license plates/registration tags issued in their native country for a period not to exceed one year from their date of arrival.

Foreign tourists whose country is not among those that are party to the terms of either convention may be required to obtain a driver's license and secure license plates/registration tags upon arrival in the United States (U.S.).

Foreign students attending school in the U.S. who are at least 16 years old and their privilege to operate a motor vehicle in Wisconsin is not suspended, revoked, cancelled or disqualified, can drive with their home country's valid license for up to one year. After one year, they must meet the same licensing requirements as a Wisconsin resident.

In addition to having a valid foreign driver's license, visitors are advised to carry an International Driving Permit obtained in their home country, as authorized by the 1943/1949 or 1968 conventions, or attach an English translation to their national driving license. The International Driving Permit is translated into the nine official languages of the United Nations, including English, and serves as a translation to be used in conjunction with the visitor's valid driver's license. It can be useful in emergencies, such as traffic violations or auto accidents, particularly when a foreign language is involved.

Visitors from foreign countries must obtain their International Driving Permit in their native country prior to arrival in the U.S.

Countries party to the 1943 or 1949 conventions:
Afghanistan* Albania Algeria
Andorra Angola* Antigua*
Argentina*** Armenia* Australia
Austria Bahamas Bahrain*
Bangladesh Barbados** Belgium
Belize Benin Bhutan*
Bolivia*/*** Botswana Brazil (Inter-American Driving Permit Only)
Brunei* Bulgaria Burkina Faso* (formerly Upper Volta)
Cambodia (formerly Kampuchea) Cameroon Canada
Cape Verde Islands* Cayman Islands* Central African Republic
Chad* Chile*** Colombia*/***
Comoros* Congo, Republic and Democratic Republic (Brazzaville, Kinshasa) Costa Rica*/***
Cte d'Ivoire Croatia* Cuba
Curacao Cyprus Czech Republic (formerly Czechoslovakia)
Denmark Djibouti* Dominica*/**
Dominican Republic*** Ecuador*** Egypt
El Salvador*/*** Equatorial Guinea* Estonia*
Fiji Finland France (including overseas territories)
French Polynesia Gabon* Gambia
Georgia Germany* Ghana
Gibraltar Greece Grenada
Guadeloupe Guatemala*** Guernsey
Guinea* Guinea-Bissau* Guyana
Haiti*** Honduras*/*** Hong Kong
Hungary Iceland India
Indonesia* Iran* Ireland
Isle of Man Israel Italy
Jamaica Japan Jersey
Jordan Kazakhstan* Kenya*
Korea, Republic Kosovo (formerly Yugoslavia) Kuwait*
Kyrgyzstan Laos Latvia
Lebanon Lesotho Liberia*
Libya* Liechtenstein* Lithuania*
Luxembourg Macao* Macedonia
Madagascar Malawi Malaysia
Mali Malta Martinique
Mauritania* Mauritius Mexico*/***
Moldova Monaco Montserrat
Morocco Mozambique Myanmar*
Namibia Nepal* Netherlands
New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua*/***
Niger Norway Oman*
Pakistan* Panama* Papua New Guinea
Paraguay*** Peru*** Philippines
Poland Portugal Qatar*
Romania Russia Rwanda
St. Christopher, Nevis & Anguilla*/** St. Kitts St. Lucia
St. Vincent & the Grenadines San Marino So Tom & Principe*
Saudi Arabia* Senegal Seychelles
Sierra Leone Singapore Slovakia
Slovenia* South Africa Spain
Sri Lanka Sudan* Suriname
Swaziland Sweden Switzerland
Syria Taiwan Tajikistan*
Tanzania Thailand Togo
Trinidad & Tobago*** Tunisia Turkey
Turkmenistan* Uganda Ukraine
United Arab Emirates* United Kingdom Uruguay (Inter-American Driving Permit Only)
Vatican City (Holy See) Venezuela*** Vietnam*
Western Samoa Windward Islands Yemen*
Zambia Zimbabwe  

* Not party to 1949 Convention International Driving Permit honored.

** U.S. driver's license and IDP recognized on presentation to local police and payment of special registration fee upon arrival.

*** Geographical areas which honor Inter-American Driving Permits (Convention on Regulation of Inter-American Motor Vehicle Traffic, Organization of American States, Washington, D.C., 1943) as of June 1996.

These countries also made the convention applicable to their territorial possessions.

Questions? Contact us: Wisconsin DMV email service
Phone: (608) 266-2353

Last modified: August 30, 2011

All external hyperlinks are provided for your information and for the benefit of the general public. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation does not testify to, sponsor or endorse the accuracy of the information provided on externally linked pages. Some pages contain links to other documents and media types (PDF, Word, Flash, Video, etc.) and require free plugins to work. Visit our software information page for assistance.