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 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 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 license, visitors are advised to obtain an International Driving Permit in their native country prior to arrival in the U.S., 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 license. It can be useful in emergencies, such as traffic violations or auto accidents, particularly when a foreign language is involved.
Note: Foreign motorists from France, Germany or the Republic of Korea (South Korea) who apply for a class D Regular Wisconsin driver license may be eligible to have the knowledge and skills tests waived under a reciprocal agreement for driver licensing with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
Countries party to the 1943 or 1949 conventions:
Brazil (Inter-American Driving Permit Only)
Burkina Faso* (formerly Upper Volta)
Cambodia (formerly Kampuchea)
Cape Verde Islands*
Central African Republic
Congo, Republic and Democratic Republic (Brazzaville, Kinshasa)
Czech Republic (formerly Czechoslovakia)
France (including overseas territories)
Isle of Man
Kosovo (formerly Yugoslavia)
Papua New Guinea
St. Christopher, Nevis & Anguilla*/**
St. Vincent & the Grenadine
Sâo Tomé & Principe*
Trinidad & Tobago***
United Arab Emirates*
Uruguay (Inter-American Driving Permit Only)
Vatican City (Holy See)
*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.