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Message to All Americans - Notice on Drivers Licenses

The U.S. Embassy has just confirmed information from the Czech Ministry of Transport and Communication concerning driving in the Czech Republic. A new law on road safety affects all those who drive here with a foreign (including U.S.) license. As of January 1, 2001 foreign licenses will no longer be accepted for drivers who are in the Czech Republic for 90 days or longer. Therefore, those who have been here since January 1 will be required as of April 1, 2001 to show a Czech license (see below for instructions on how to obtain a Czech license).

However, there is an alternative. According to the Ministry, you may drive here indefinitely with a foreign license so long as two conditions are met:

  1. the license conforms to the standards of the Geneva Convention on International Road Safety of 1949; AND
  2. you have an International Driving Permit to accompany your license.

To the best of our knowledge, drivers’ licenses issued by U.S. state governments do comply with this Convention. International Driving Permits are issued for U.S. licenses by the American Automobile Association (AAA) in the U.S. You may download an application form from theAAA website. You should print the form, fill it out, and mail it with the photos, fee, and copy of your current license (both sides) to a AAA office in the U.S. (The website has addresses of many AAA offices, and the form contains instructions on photos, fees, etc.) The Embassy recommends that you fill out the mailing address at the bottom at the form with the address of a friend or relative at home who can ensure the correct Czech address and postage are affixed to the envelope. You may also wish to consider use of an express mail service if you expect to drive from April 1. (And please note that the IDP expires in one year. It can be renewed by mail every year, so long as your U.S. license is valid.)

If you prefer, you may contact your Czech municipal or other local authority to apply for a Czech license. Please be aware, however, that your U.S. license will not be returned to you, but will be transmitted by the Czech authorities (eventually) to this Embassy for forwarding to the state authority which issued them.

In view of the lack of notice to embassies or the press about this significant change in Czech law, the U.S. and other diplomatic missions in Prague have requested that police authorities be understanding of the difficulties foreigners face in obtaining proper documentation so quickly. The Czech authorities have promised to do their best, but point out they have no authority to change the law which has been enacted.

Under these circumstances, we caution all Americans not to drive after April 1 without an appropriate license. Please be aware that insurance companies may not honor claims for accidents that occur when a driver does not have a valid license under Czech law.