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Tips & advice

International driving permit: do you need one?

Driving abroad? Check out the rules and apply for an International Driving Permit

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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.

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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. 

• Driving in France: top tips

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.

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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.

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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.

Driving abroad

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. 

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Afghanistan

 

Guam

 

Nigeria

 

Algeria

 

Guatemala

 

Oman

 

Angola

 

Guinea Bissau

 

Pakistan

 

Argentina

 

Guinea Republic

 

Panama

 

Armenia

 

Guyana

 

Papua New Guinea

 

Australia

 

Haiti

 

Paraguay

 

Bahamas

 

Honduras

 

Philippines

 

Bahrain

 

Hong Kong

 

Portugal

 

Bangladesh

 

Hungary

 

Qatar

 

Belarus

 

Iceland

 

Reunion

 

Belize

 

India

 

Russian Federation

 

Benin

 

Indonesia

 

Rwanda

 

Bhutan

 

Iran

 

Sabah (Malaysia)

 

Bolivia

 

Israel

 

Sao Tome and Principe

 

Bosnia

 

Italy

 

Saudi Arabia

 

Botswana

 

Japan

 

Senegal

 

Brunei

 

Jordan

 

Serbia

 

Bulgaria

 

Kazakhstan

 

Seychelles

 

Burkina Faso

 

Kenya

 

Sierra Leone

 

Cameroon

 

Kiribati

 

Singapore

 

Canada

 

Korea (South)

 

South Africa

 

Cape Verde

 

Kuwait

 

Spain

 

Central African Republic

 

Laos

 

Sri Lanka

 

Chad

 

Lebanon

 

St. Lucia

 

Chile

 

Lesotho

 

St. Vincent

 

Colombia

 

Liberia

 

Sudan

 

Comoros

 

Libya

 

Surinam

 

Congo (Democratic Republic of)

 

Macau

 

Swaziland

 

Congo (Republic of)

 

Macedonia

 

Syria

 

Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

 

Madagascar

 

Taiwan

 

Czech Republic

 

Malawi

 

Tanzania

 

Djibouti

 

Malaysia

 

Thailand

 

Dominica

 

Mali

 

Togo

 

Dominican Republic

 

Mauritania

 

Trinidad & Tobago

 

Egypt

 

Mauritius

 

Tunisia

 

El Salvador

 

Mexico

 

Turkey

 

Equatorial Guinea

 

Montenegro

 

Uganda

 

Eritrea

 

Mozambique

 

Ukraine

 

Ethiopia

 

Myanmar

 

United Arab Emirates

 

Gabon

 

Namibia

 

USA

 

Gambia

 

Nepal

 

Yemen

 

Georgia

 

New Caledonia

 

Zambia

 

Ghana

 

Nicaragua

 

Zimbabwe

 

Guadeloupe

 

Niger

 

 

 

• 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.

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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."

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Driving abroad: everything you need to know

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 

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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

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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

Subaru XV - side

Liechtenstein: No IDP needed

Lithuania: No IDP needed for visits up to 185 days

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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

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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.

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