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International Drivers Licence in 2019 – In Which Countries Do You Need It

Having your International Driving Permit is not necessary for all countries, but we recommend you get one, especially if you travel a lot abroad – your own or rented cars.

Oh, right! What is an International Driving Permit?

International Drivers Permit (or IDP in short) or International Driving Licence (IDL) is an official document that validates your driving license in other countries. For validation of your IDP, you need to have - of course – a valid driving license.
 
IDP is a requirement for hiring a car in over 140 countries. We need to warn you that driving without IDP can result in very high fees, so if you don't consider yourself as a gambler – get your IDP.
 

How does IDP look like? 

International driving permit

IDP is a multi-language translation of your driving license, slightly larger than your passport and accompanied by your photo and vital statistics.

 

In which countries do you NEED an IDP?

international drivers licence
 
In some countries, it is illegal to drive without your International Driving Permit. It depends however where you're coming from - for example:  If your driving license is issued in the UK, you won't need your IDP for Spain, Italy, France, Portugal or other EU countries, while you will need an IDP when traveling to the USA.  
 
An international driving permit (IDP) is required or recommended in the following countries:
 
Afganistan

Required

Albania Required
Algeria Required
Angola Required
Argentina Required
Armenia Required
Australia Required
Austria Required for all non-EU residents. We recommend you carry your IDP and your state driver's license with you at all times. For more information, click here.
Azerbaijan A valid driving license is accepted when accompanied by a certified translation into Azerbaijani.
Bahrain Required
Belarus Required
Belgium Required
Benin Required
Bermuda Visitors aren't allowed to drive.
Bhutan Required
Bolivia After 3 months international driving permit needs to be endorsed by Servicio Nacional de Transito. For more information, click here.
Brazil An international driving permit (IDP) is recommended. After 6 months it is mandatory to apply for a local license.  For more information, click here.
Brunei Required
Bulgaria Required
Burkina Faso Recommended
Cameroon Recommended
Cape Verde Isles Recommended
Cayman Isles Required
Central African Republic Required
Chile Recommended
China A temporary driving permit is needed. For more information, click here.
Colombia Required
Costa Rica Recommended
Croatia Required for all non-EU residents.
Cuba A valid driving license is accepted.
Denmark Required for all non-EU residents.
Dominican Republic Required
Ecuador Recommended
Egypt Required
El Salvador Recommended
Estonia A valid driving license is accepted.
Ethiopia The IDP isn't recognized, you can get a temporary license from the local authority.
Finland Recommended
France Recommended
Gambia You can get a temporary license from the local authority.
Ghana Recommended
Greece Required all non-EU citizens.
Guatemala Recommended
Haiti Required
Honduras Required
Hong Kong Recommended
Iceland Recommended
India Required
Indonesia Required
Iran Required
Iraq Required
Ireland Required
Israel Required
Italy Required for all non-EU residents.
Jamaica If your driver's license doesn't have a stamped photograph, an international driving permit (IDP) is required.
Japan Required
Jordan Required
Kazakhstan Recommended
Kirghizistan Recommended
Kuwait Required
Laos Recommended
Latvia Recommended
Lebanon Required
Lithuania Recommended
Luxembourg Recommended
Macao Required
Madagascar Required
Malaysia Required
Mali Required
Malta Recommended
Martinique Recommended
Mauritius Recommended
Mexico Required
Moldova Required
Monaco Required for all non-EU citizens.
Morocco Recommended
Namibia Required if your driving license is not in English. 
Nepal An international driving permit (IDP) is required and valid for 15 days. After 15 days local license is required. 
New Zealand Required
Nicaragua Required
Niger Required
Pakistan Required
Panama Recommended
Papua New Guinea Recommended
Philippines Required
Portugal An international driving permit (IDP) is required for all non-EU citizens. 
Reunion Recommended
Romania Recommended
Russia Recommended
Rwanda Required
Samoa Required
Saint-Martin Required
Senegal Required
Serbia Recommended
Singapore Required
Slovakia Required for all non-EU residents.
Slovenia Required for all non-EU residents.
Somalia Required
South Africa Required
Spain Required for all non-EU residents.
Sri Lanka Recommended
Sudan Recommended
Swaziland Required
Sweden An international driving license is required for all non-EU residents.
Switzerland An international driving license is required for all non-EU residents.
Syria Required
Taiwan Required
Tajikistan Required
Tanzania Required
Thailand Required
Togo Required
Tunisia Recommended
Turkey Recommended
Turkmenistan Required
Ukraine Required
United Arab Emirates Required
United Kingdom Required
Uruguay Recommended
USA An international driving permit (IDP) is recommended. Some states require an IDP, in addition to a valid license from own country. For more information, click here.
Uzbekistan Required
Venezuela Required
Vietnam Required
Zaire Required
Zambia Recommended
Zimbabwe Required

International drivers license for UK citizens

For all the UK citizens looking for additional information about the IDP, here are all the details. To be eligible to get an IDP, you must:

  • Own a full UK valid driving license You can only apply for a IDP for the same type of a vehicle as you have a valid driving licence in the UK.
  • Be a permanent resident of the UK (if not, you need to get a IDP in the country where you have a permanent residence)
  • Be 18 or over.

You can easily apply for an international driving permit, you download and print a form that you get on the RAC website. You complete the form and include the correct fee, a recent passport-size photo and a photocopy of your UK driving license with a photocopy of the page from your passport where your photo sits. You mail all of that to the RAC Motoring Services and within 10 days you will receive the IDP that you can use on your travels.

If you are a UK citizen with a valid UK license you mostly don't need an IDP to drive in EU/EEA countries. This is true if you have the "new" photocard driving license. If you have an older license, that is not the standardized EU photocard style, you should probably get an IDP.

If you are a UK citizen and are moving abroad, the requirements change. You should check with your local driving license authorities to find out how to get a local driving license. Some countries will allow you to exchange your UK license without taking another driving test. This is especially true for all the EU countries, that will allow you to easily swap your license and you will be able to get a UK license when/if you move back to the UK.

If you are moving to a non EU country, check with the local authorities.

How much does IDP cost?

It depends. The price ranges from 15 USD in the US to 35 EUR in European Union countries. Every country sets its own pricing, so check with your own office.

How to get an IDP?

The process can vary between different countries, so you should probably check the official websites for your country. But usually, it is a simple process that can be done online. Go and check your countries main office that issues drivings license and their website should probably tell you where you can get an IDP.

If you are from the UK, you can get the IDP through sites such as the Post Office or RAD. You must be 18 years old and also have a regular UK driving license. 

When you decide to apply (please do it well in advance before you travel, just to be sure), you will need:

  • Your regular driving license - bring your old paper version, or the new photo card, whatever you have as a valid license
  • A passport sized photo that you sign on the back (you will not get the photo back, so plan accordingly)
  • A proof of identification (a passport will suffice)
  • You will need to pay the application fee, so bring money. It will be less than  £10 

Can you renew an international driving permit

The international driving permit will be issued to you for the next year or three years, depending on what country you are from. Different countries issue a license with a different validity. And when the time is up, you will need to get a new IDP, you won't be able to renew an international driving permit.

This means that you will have to pay the fee again and bring a new photo and apply in the same way you did when you got your International drivers license in the first place. So if you will be out of the country, and your country does not allow to apply online, you won't be able to get a new license and you will have to travel back to your country and re-apply.

 

How long does it take to get an international driver's license

Again, the answer to the question is "it depends" because different countries use different solutions. In some countries, you can get your IDP in a minute, but in other countries, you need to get it online and this means that you will have to wait for it being delivered to your home via a delivery courier. So it can take a couple of days, and there can be problems with the delivery so that the delivery takes more time than planned.

In the UK you can go directly to one of the Post Offices that issue IDPs and get it immediately.

 

IDP after Brexit and driving in the EU after Brexit

This article was written when the details of Brexit were not final. If there is a 'no deal' situation, then you will need an IDP when driving in Europe. Because the current mutual recognition will end. This will mean that an addition of 7 million IDPs will be required in the first year and probably every year after. So it is possible that a lot of things will change after Brexit.

The UK's government has already decided that they will increase the number of Post Offices that issue IDPs (the number will increase from 89 to 2,500. The AA and RAC will no longer be permitted to issue IDPs and the mail order IDP will cease to exist. So this is good and bad news, it means that if you are from the UK you will probably need to have an IDP, but it will be easier and faster to get an IDP.

 

FAQs about the IDP

  • An international drivers permit is not a valid drivers license in your home country. And when driving abroad, you always need both, your first drivers' license and the International drivers permit
  • You can not get an IDP if you have only a provisional license (unless you just passed your test, in this case, you can apply using your test pass certificate that is valid for two years)
  • You can't apply more than three months before you travel
  • An IDP can have a starting date before your application date (aka it can't be backdated)
  • You need to make sure that all the information on your driver's license is correct and that it matches the data on your home drivers license, otherwise you can have trouble with the local police
  • If taking up residence or employment, or traveling for a reason other than tourism, find out about your personal position before relying on an IDP.
  • When hiring a car abroad, remember that license requirements worldwide do vary. If you’re making an advance reservation in the UK, ask the company concerned to confirm the driving license requirements of the countries you’re visiting. Without this info, consider an IDP as a precautionary measure, especially if traveling outside of Europe.

What happens if I drive without it?

In general, this can be a major offense, comparable to driving without a valid drivers license. This means that you should really be sure that you do not need one and that your own drivers' license will be valid in the country that you will drive in.

A lot of police officers will be generous and will allow you to continue without a drivers license, but don't bet on that. There are laws that say that your car can be confiscated. Other countries will just give you a hefty fine if you get stopped by a police officer. 

You should also keep your IDL on you at all times. Don't leave your documents in your hotel or Airbnb, you should have it with you and be ready to show it to the authorities if you get stopped. But, the bests thing for you is, that a police officer is satisfied with your original drivers' license, so when asked, present your original drivers' license and show your IDL only when asked specifically.

 

 


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