International driving permit: do you need one?
Driving abroad? Check out the rules and apply for an International Driving Permit
When driving abroad, being the proud owner of a full UK driving licence often means you're covered from a purely legal point of view. However, this will change now for any motorists looking to drive in and around Europe now that Britain is leaving the European Union. In countries further afield, it’s often a good idea to have something more than a British licence to hand to the police just in case of a problem.
That’s where the International Driving Permit (IDP) comes in. It’s issued by the authorities here in the UK, but printed in multiple languages to ensure that anyone who needs to see your driving licence abroad is able to understand it. This may be police or enforcement officers, but hopefully, it’s much more likely to be an agent at a car hire desk.
Some countries do make it a legal requirement to carry and International Driving Permit, so in those cases it becomes a sort of de facto international driver’s licence (or international license as our American friends would say) as you can be in trouble if you drive without it. In other countries carrying your IDP is voluntary, but it’s definitely worth having up your sleeve for the reasons mentioned above. In particular, it's occasionally the case that foreign car rental firms will refuse a hirer who can’t show an IDP, even if it’s not actually a legal requirement to have one.
This online guide will help you determine whether an IDP is necessary on your foreign travels, and will also steer you in the right direction when it’s time to apply.
With the United Kingdom currently in the transition period after Brexit, there is currently no legal requirement for UK licenced drivers to apply for an International Driving Permit when driving in France or in any other EU country, though it is recommended in certain countries including Italy and Portugal. The rules for Europe post-Brexit, if Britain leaves without a deal, are also covered in our guide below.
For those drivers heading beyond the EU borders, it’s vital that you check whether an IDP is needed, as driving abroad without a valid licence is not only illegal, but could have implications for insurance.
What is an International Driving Permit?
Don’t worry, you won’t be expected to take another driving test, as the IDP is essentially a translated copy of your UK-issued driving licence. It means foreign officials are able to quickly check your credentials without delay. Do remember to keep your driving licence with you at all times, too, as the IDP is not valid on its own.
It's always best to check with the relevant tourist offices or embassies to get the exact details of what you need to do, but to make things simple for you here's a list of all the countries that require an International Driving Permit, or IDP. If you're hiring a car, you should check with the firm you are using to see if they require a permit.
Where do you need an International Driving Permit outside of Europe?
• International Driving Permits are compulsory in countries highlighted in bold, they are recommended everywhere else.
Papua New Guinea
Sao Tome and Principe
Central African Republic
Congo (Democratic Republic of)
Congo (Republic of)
Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
Trinidad & Tobago
United Arab Emirates
• Note that for Brazil, Iraq and Somalia a different type of IDP is required.
Will I need an International Driving Permit after Brexit?
If the UK does not reach a free trade agreement during the transition period then the UK will leave the EU with a 'no-deal Brexit'. Should this be the case then The Department for Transport (DfT) has advised that British motorists who wish to drive in Europe will be required to purchase an IDP.
The DfT says the “version of the IDP you would require depends on which EU country you are visiting”, and that drivers “may be turned away at the border or face other enforcement action, for example fines, if you don’t have the correct IDP."
This is because there are three different types of IDP. One is governed by the 1928 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, while the others is covered by agreements from 1949 and 1968. Different countries have their own requirements for licences from countries outside of the EU, so you may need more than one permit after the UK leaves the EU.
Check from the list below to see which permit you will need, and remember you may need more than one if you are passing through a country on your way to another.
Check which type of IDP you need
Andorra: 1949 IDP
Austria: No IDP needed for visits up to 6 months
Belgium: No IDP needed for visits up to 185 days
Bulgaria: No IDP needed for visits up to 3 months
Croatia: You will need a 1968 IDP only if you are under 18 for driving a car
Cyprus: Need a 1949 IDP
Czech Republic: No IDP needed for visits up to 3 months
Denmark: No IDP needed for visits up to 90 days
Estonia: No IDP needed
Finland: No IDP needed
France: Need a 1968 IDP
Germany: No IDP needed for visits up to 6 months
Greece: No IDP needed
Hungary: No IDP needed for visits up to 12 months
Iceland: No IDP needed for visits up to 1 month
Ireland: No IDP needed for visits up to 12 months
Italy: Need a 1968 IDP
Latvia: No IDP needed
Liechtenstein: No IDP needed
Lithuania: No IDP needed for visits up to 185 days
Luxembourg: No IDP needed for visits up to 185 days
Malta: No IDP needed for visits up to 12 months
Monaco: Need a 1968 IDP
Netherlands: No IDP needed
Norway: No IDP needed for visits up to 90 days
Poland: No IDP needed for visits up to 185 days
Portugal: No IDP needed for visits up to 185 days
Romania: No IDP needed
Slovakia: No IDP needed
Slovenia: No IDP needed for visits up to 90 days
Spain: No IDP needed*
Switzerland: No IDP needed
Sweden: No IDP needed for visits up to 185 days
* In Spain, you will not need an IDP for visits up to 9 months after the date the UK leaves the EU. Then you will not need an IDP for visits up to 6 months. You will need a 1949 IDP for longer visits.
How to get an International Driving Permit
To get hold of an IDP, you need to be a resident of Great Britain or Northern Ireland, be over 18 and have passed your driving test. It costs £5.50 and you can apply for one from certain larger branches of the Post Office. Be sure to get one in plenty of time before your trip, as there was a shortage of IDPs ahead of the last Brexit deadline in March.
If you're still unsure about the requirements for the country you wish to visit, contact the relevant embassy for details.