Florida to Canadian theme park fans: 'Take off'
Written by Robert Niles
The State of Florida is making it harder for Canadians to drive in the Sunshine State, and that's upsetting theme park fans north of the border.
"Welcome to Florida! Unless you're from Canada and don't have the newly correct papers…"
A new law this year in Florida requires that all visitors from foreign countries must carry an international driving permit in addition to their local driver's license when driving a car in Florida. In the past, Canadian drivers had not needed the international permit and were allowed to drive in the US while carrying just their Canadian licenses. (For what it's worth, when we visited Canada two summers ago, we drove around British Columbia on our US licenses. We didn't need an international permit, either.)
Why the change? "Security," of course. An international driving permit translates license information into 10 languages, helping local authorities understand the personal information on licenses issued by foreign countries. Of course, one wonders why Florida police officers would need a translation of the English-language licenses from all those Canadian provinces that aren't spelled "Quebec." [Let's try this as an easy way to translate Canadian English to Floridian English: Swap the "eh" for "y'all" and we're good to go, okay?]
Theme Park Insider reader Kathy McPherson alerted me to the change, emailing me a Toronto Star article about Canadians' reaction to the new law.
"Our local CAA [Canadian auto club] offices are going crazy because this is the only place you can get them," McPherson wrote. "We are heading to Florida in a couple weeks and will have to line up and get ours before we go."
Today, the Florida Highway Patrol reacted to the uproar in Canada by announcing that it won't enforce the new law against Canadian drivers with English-language licenses, at least for the time being. But that doesn't apply to local law enforcement, and some car rental companies are continuing to insist on the international permit to rent to Canadian visitors. So many Canadians who want to visit Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando will need to keep queuing for the permits, or else risk not being pulled over when they drive in Florida (assuming they're bringing their own cars down or can rent one in Florida despite not having the international permit).
Florida tourism officials told The Star that they're hoping to convince Florida lawmakers to change the law when the legislature meets again next month.
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