Legally it's required.
The rental company can refuse to give you the car without it.
If you get pulled over you might have a problem.
It is a permit, basically a document that states (in many different languages) that you have a valid driver's license. I got mine at an AAA office, where I presented my driver's license, had photos taken, and they did the rest.
When we rented a car in Puglia, the agent said the permit was for the police but I have read that a car rental agency "may" not let you rent a car without one.
To me, worth the cost
You did need it, according to law. And that is likely to be of more weight to an insurance company than the thoughts of a rental agent.
Do note that it’s not a license, you must still carry your regular license. It amounts to a translation of your license, the only alternative to which is a translation issued by your embassy in Italy.
There is no such thing as an international drivers *license*. You need the permit. You can get them at any AAA.
The other point is that if the rental agencies has sold out on their cars they will ask for it in the hope you don't have one, then they are not to blame for refusing you.
you definitely need the permit..you are unlicened if you are stopped by police..or for insurance purpose..and you don't have one..you have to get it before you leave home..you can't get one when you get to italyEdited: 22 April 2018, 04:41
The car rental agencies will not ask for it, which makes you believe that it is not required. I have never been asked for one. And, for some reason it is no longer required in some other EU countries (France)
But, you are supposed to legally have it for the police, if you are stopped or in an accident.
I just got one at AAA. It was $20 for the permit. I had the photos taken at CVS which was $15.
After years and thousands kilometers of driving a rental car in Italy, my rental car was hit by a driver who ran a stop sign broadsiding me. Totally unexpected. I am very glad I had my IDP. The police did ask for it. If you do not ever need it, consider it a great souvenir of your trip.