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Tips & advice

International driving permit: do you need one?

If you plan on driving abroad, you may need an International Driving Permit – here’s everything you need to know

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If you’re planning on driving abroad, you might need an International Driving Permit (IDP). While UK driving licences are accepted in the European Union, IDPs are needed to drive legally in popular destinations like the US, Turkey, Japan and many others. Rules vary from country to country but this guide to the International Driving permit explains everything from how and where to get one to which countries require them, the different types of IDP and how much they cost.

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If your United Kingdom driving licence is not recognised in the country you’re driving in it can cause headaches at the car hire desk, when dealing with local police or if you have to make an insurance claim. An International Driving Permit helps bridge this gap. Recognised in over 140 different countries, an IDP is a paper document that sits alongside your UK driving licence and cannot be used independently of it.

Some countries make an International Driving Permit a legal requirement (with the IDP becoming a de facto international driver’s licence), while other countries make carrying an IDP voluntary. In the cases where the IDP is voluntary, its still definitely worth having one up your sleeve, as it can make driving abroad less stressful. 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. The IDP also shows information in different languages which can be useful. 

What is an International Driving Permit?

An International Driving Permit is an internationally recognised translation of your UK driving licence and entitles you to drive a vehicle according to the rules agreed by every participating nation. The document is printed in multiple languages so anyone who needs to see your driving licence abroad should be able to understand it, whether they are a government authority or an agent at a car hire desk. Always keep your IDP and driving licence together.

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The most important entitlement for most UK citizens is likely to be Category B – the entitlement to drive a vehicle, or vehicle and trailer, not exceeding 3,500kg in total, and not carrying more than eight passengers. Note that category B of the IDP matches that outlined on the rear of the UK driving licence photocard.

How do I get an International Driving Permit?

IDPs have historically only been available from participating Post Offices. From 1 April 2024 onwards, however, IDPs will be available from any PayPoint location. There are 28,000 PayPoint locations around the UK, often in supermarkets and newsagents. You can find your nearest one on the PayPoint website.

To apply for a IDP, drivers will need:

  • Their driving licence 
  • Their passport
  • A passport photo

International Driving Permits will no longer be available from Post Office branches after this date. 

An IDP costs £5.50 and you need to be a resident of Great Britain or Northern Ireland, be over 18 and have passed your driving test. It is not possible to buy an IDP online.

Driving abroad

Do I need an International Driving Permit to drive in Europe?

You do not need an IDP when driving in the European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein if you hold a valid UK driving licence. However, if you have an old-format UK paper licence, or your licence was issued in Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, you will need an International Driving Permit. 

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If you're unsure about the requirements for the country you wish to visit, you can contact the relevant embassy for details, go to the GOV.UK website or see the table at the bottom of this page.

Since Brexit, regulations have changed regarding green cards, insurance and GB stickers when driving within the EU, so make sure to up to speed with those beforehand as well.

Which International Driving Permit do I need and how long do they last?

There are three different types of International Driving Permits. Each country requires a certain permit and that permit will expire after a set amount of time.

These are the three types of International Driving Permit:

  • 1926 IDP (lasts for 1 year)
  • 1949 IDP (lasts for 1 year)
  • 1968 IDP (lasts for 3 years)

Most countries outside of the European Union will require a 1949 or 1968 IDP, – only Mexico and Somalia currently use the 1926 IDP.

All three permits will automatically run out if your driving licence expires, so it’s best to check the expiry dates of your licence as well as that of any previous permits before you travel. 

If you’re unsure whether you need an IDP, the Department for Transport (DfT) advises you to get in touch with your car hire company or the embassy of the country you plan to drive in. Alternatively, you can check the table below for the type of IDP you need.

What happens if I drive without an International Driving Permit?

Consequences of being caught without a valid IDP in a country where it is a requirement will vary. You could:

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  • Be given a fine, arrested or face other enforcement action
  • Have your car impounded and confiscated
  • If you hire a car, the hire company could charge you for the cost of releasing the car from the police

Which countries require an International Driving Permit?

You may need different International Driving Permits depending upon the country or countries you are visiting and your length of stay. IDPs needed and additional information is listed in the table below.

Country or territoryType of IDP needed

More information

Albania1968 
Algeria1949 
Andorra1949 
Argentina1949 
Armenia1968 
Australia1949 
AustriaNone 
Azerbaijan1968 
Bahamas1968

IDP needed for stays longer than 90 days.

Bahrain1968

IDP needed for car hire, and for stays longer than 90 days. Permit must be certified by local authorities when you arrive.

Bangladesh1949 
Barbados1949 
Belarus1968 
BelgiumNone

No IDP needed for periods up to 6 months. If you have a paper driving licence, you may need a 1968 IDP. Check with the Belgian Embassy.

Benin1949 
Bosnia and Herzegovina1968 
Botswana1949

IDP needed for car hire.

Brazil1968 
BulgariaNone 
Burkina Faso1949 
Cambodia1949 
Canada1949 
Cape Verde1968 
Central African Republic1968 
Chile1949 
Congo1949 
Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)1968 
CroatiaNone

If you hold a paper driving licence or a driving licence from Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man, you may need a 1968 IDP. Check with the Croatian Embassy.

Cuba1968 
CyprusNone

No IDP needed to drive here for visits up to 30 days. For visits longer than 30 days you will need a 1949 IDP. If you hold a paper driving licence or a driving licence from Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man, you may need a 1949 IDP for any length of visit. Check with the High Commission of Cyprus.

Czech RepublicNone

If you hold a paper driving licence or a driving licence from the Isle of Man, you may need a 1968 IDP. Check with the Czech Republic Embassy.

Democratic Republic of Congo1968 
DenmarkNone

You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 90 days.

Dominican Republic1949

IDP needed for stays longer than 90 days.

Ecuador1949 
Egypt1949 
EstoniaNone

You do not need an IDP to drive here for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. If you hold a paper driving licence you may need a 1968 IDP. Check with the Estonian Embassy.

Eswatini (previously Swaziland)1949

If you have an older, paper UK driving licence, you must take another form of photographic ID, such as your passport. You may need to show an IDP to your insurance company if you’re involved in an accident.

Fiji1949 
FinlandNone

You do not need an IDP to drive here.

FranceNone

You do not need an IDP to drive here.

French Polynesia1968 
Georgia1968

IDP needed for stays longer than 90 days.

GermanyNone

You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 6 months. If you hold a paper driving licence or a driving licence from the Isle of Man, you may need a 1968 IDP. Check with the German Embassy.

Ghana1949 
GreeceNone

You do not need an IDP to drive here.

Guam1949

IDP needed for stays longer than 30 days. If you have an older, paper UK driving licence, you must take another form of photographic ID, such as your passport. You may need to show an IDP to your insurance company if you’re involved in an accident.

Guatemala1949 
Guyana1968 
Haiti1949

IDP needed for stays longer than 90 days.

HungaryNone

You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 12 months. If you hold a paper driving licence or a driving licence from the Isle of Man, you may need a 1968 IDP. Check with the Hungarian Embassy.

IcelandNone

You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 30 days.

India1949 
Iran1968 
Iraq1968 
IrelandNone

You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 12 months.

Israel1968 
ItalyNone

You do not need an IDP to drive here.

Jamaica1949 
Japan1949 
Jordan1949 
Kazakhstan1968 
Kenya1968

IDP needed for stays longer than 90 days.

Kuwait1968 
Kyrgyzstan1968 
Laos1949 
LatviaNone

You do not need an IDP to drive here.

Lebanon1949 
Lesotho1949 
Liberia1968 
Libya1949 
LiechtensteinNone

You do not need an IDP to drive here.

LithuaniaNone

You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 6 months.

LuxembourgNone

You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 6 months.

Macao (Macau)1949 
Madagascar1949 
Malawi1949

IDP needed for stays longer than 90 days.

Malaysia (Sabah)1949 
Mali1949 
MaltaNone

You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 12 months. If you hold a paper driving licence or a driving licence from Guernsey or the Isle of Man, you may need a 1949 IDP. Check with the Malta High Commission.

Mexico1926 
Moldova1968 
Monaco1968 
Mongolia1968 
Montenegro1968 
Morocco1968 
Myanmar (previously Burma)1968 
Namibia1949

IDP needed for car hire. If you have an older, paper UK driving licence, you must take another form of photographic ID, such as your passport. You may need to show an IDP to your insurance company if you’re involved in an accident.

Nepal1968 
NetherlandsNone

You do not need an IDP to drive here.

New Zealand1949 
Niger1968 
Nigeria1968 
North Macedonia1968 
NorwayNone

You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 90 days. If you hold a paper driving licence you may need a 1968 IDP. Check with the Norwegian Embassy.

Pakistan1968 
Papua New Guinea1949

IDP needed for stays longer than 30 days.

Paraguay1949 
Peru1968 
Philippines1968

IDP needed for car hire, and for stays longer than 90 days.

PolandNone

You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 6 months.

PortugalNone

You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 6 months.

Qatar1968 
RomaniaNone

If you hold a paper driving licence or a driving licence from the Isle of Man, you may need a 1968 IDP. Check with the Romanian Embassy.

Russian Federation1968 
Rwanda1949 
San Marino1968 
Saudi Arabia1968

IDP needed for car hire.

Senegal1968 
Serbia1968 
Seychelles1968 
Sierra Leone1949 
Singapore1949

IDP needed for car hire, and for stays longer than 30 days.

SlovakiaNone

You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 6 months. For visits longer than 6 months you’ll need a 1968 IDP.

SloveniaNone

You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 90 days.

Somalia1926 
South Africa1968

If you have an older, paper UK driving licence, you must take another form of photographic ID, such as your passport. You may need to show an IDP to your insurance company if you’re involved in an accident.

South Korea1949 
Spain (including Balearic and Canary Isles)None

You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 6 months.

Sri Lanka1949

As well as the IDP, you must get a Sri Lankan recognition permit from the Automobile Association of Ceylon (AAC) in Colombo.

St. Lucia1949

Show your UK driving licence or IDP to the police to get a visitor’s licence.

St. Vincent1949

Show your UK driving licence or IDP to the police to get a visitor’s licence.

SwedenNone

You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 12 months.

SwitzerlandNone

You do not need an IDP to drive here.

Syria1949 
Tajikistan1968 
Taiwan1949

IDP needed for stays longer than 30 days.

Thailand1968 
Togo1949 
Trinidad & Tobago1949

IDP needed for stays longer than 90 days.

Tunisia1968 
Turkey1968 
Turkmenistan1968 
Uganda1949

IDP needed for stays longer than 90 days.

Ukraine1968 
United Arab Emirates1968 
United States1949

If you have an older, paper UK driving licence, you must take another form of photographic ID, such as your passport. You may need to show an IDP to your insurance company if you’re involved in an accident.

Uruguay1968 
Uzbekistan1968 
Vatican City1949 
Venezuela1949 
Vietnam1968 
Zimbabwe1968 

If you're planning on driving aborad, our handy guides have you covered...

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Content editor

Ryan is responsible for looking after the day-to-day running of the Auto Express website and social media channels. Prior to joining Auto Express in 2023, he worked at a global OEM automotive manufacturer, as well as a specialist automotive PR and marketing agency.

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