Having your International Driving Permit is not necessary for all countries, but we recommend you get one, especially if you frequently travel abroad – whether with your own car or rented cars. Since there has been some changes in UK citizens in February and March 2019, we have updated our article, so you have all the information in one place. In general, if you have an European driving license, you don't have to worry about EU countries.
- How does an IDP look like?
- In which countries do you NEED an IDP?
- How much does an IDP cost?
- How can you get an IDP?
- Can you renew an international driving permit?
- How long does it take to get an international driving permit?
- International driving permit for UK citizens
- IDP after Brexit and driving in the EU after Brexit
- FAQs about the IDP
- What happens if I drive without one?
Oh, right! What is an International Driving Permit?
In which countries do you NEED an IDP?
How much does an IDP cost?
It depends. The price ranges from 15 $ in the U.S. to 35 € in European Union countries. Every country sets its own pricing, so check with your own office.
How can you get an IDP?
The process varies between different countries, so you should probably check the official website for your country. Usually it is a simple process that can be done online. Go and check your country’s main office that issues driving licences, and their website will probably tell you where you can get an IDP.
If you are from the UK, you can get an IDP through the Post Office branches. You must be 18 years old and also have a regular UK driving licence.
When you decide to apply (do this well in advance of your travel dates, just to be sure), you will need:
- Your regular driving licence – bring the old paper version or the new photocard, whatever you have as a valid licence
- A passport size photo that you’ve signed on the back (you will not get the photo back, so plan accordingly)
- Proof of identification (a passport will suffice)
- The application fee.
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 licences with a different validity dates.
When it expires, you will need to get a new IDP. It is not possible to renew an international driving permit. This means that you will have to pay the fee again, submit a new photo and apply in the same way you did when you got your International Driver’s Licence in the first place. Thus, if you will be out of the country, and your country does not allow you to apply online, you won't be able to get a new licence and will have to travel back to your country and re-apply.
How long does it take to get an international driving permit?
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 apply for it online and then wait for it to be delivered to your home via a delivery courier. This can take a couple of days, and there may be problems or unexpected delays with the delivery.
In the UK, you can go directly to one of the Post Offices that issue IDPs and get one immediately.
International driving permit for UK citizens
For all UK citizens looking for additional information about the IDP, here are all the details. To be eligible to get an IDP, you must:
- Have a full UK valid driving licence. You can only apply for an IDP for the same type of vehicle as you have a valid driving licence for in the UK.
- Be a permanent resident of the UK (if not, you need to get an IDP in the country where you have permanent residency).
- Be 18 or over.
A 1926 or 1949 permit lasts for 12 months. A 1968 permit lasts for 3 years or until your UK driving licence expires, whichever comes first.
Important: The RAC has stopped issuing International Driving Permits (IDPs). From 1st February 2019 the Post Office is the sole issuer of IDPs. You can use the Post Office website to find out which branches can issue IDPs over the counter, since it will no longer be issued by mail order. If you currently have a 1949 IDP, this will remain valid until the date it expires. You will be able to apply for all three types of IDP (1949, 1968 and 1926) at 2,500 Post Offices across the UK. This international driving permit is in addition to, not a replacement of, your UK driving licence - which you also need to take with you if you're driving and/or hiring a car abroad.
If you are a UK citizen with a valid UK licence, you generally don't need an IDP to drive in EU/EEA countries. That includes nations not in the EU, including Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. But if you’re venturing further afield, you might need to carry an IDP too. However, this is only true if you have the "new" photocard driving licence. If you have an older licence which is not the standardized EU photocard style, you should probably get an IDP.
For European countries outside the EU, UK driving licences may not be accepted and you may require an IDP. For further details on the requirements of these countries visit the Government website, or check with the country’s embassy directly.
If you are a UK citizen and are moving abroad, the requirements change. You should check with your local driving licence authorities to find out how to get a local driving licence. Some countries will allow you to exchange your UK licence without taking another driving test. This is especially true for all the EU countries, which will allow you to easily swap out your licence and then retrieve your UK licence if and when you move back to the UK. If you are moving to a non-EU country, check with the local authorities.
Please note, that once the UK formally leaves the EU, these rules may change and will be dependent on what deal the Government gets with the EU.
IDP after Brexit and driving in the EU after Brexit
The formal leaving date is yet to be If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October 2019, you might need an IDP to drive in all EU and European Economic Area (EEA) countries, apart from Ireland. This will mean that an additional 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.
In the event of no-deal you will need a:
- 1926 permit to drive in Liechtenstein
- 1949 permit to drive in Spain, Iceland, Malta and Cyprus
- 1968 permit to drive in all other EU countries, plus Norway and Switzerland
Should I get my IDP now, just in case?
If the UK leaves the European Union with ‘no deal’, a 1949 version of the IDP which can be purchased now and is valid for 12 months, would be required when driving in Spain, Malta, Ireland and Cyprus. All other EU countries would require a 1968 IDP which will only be available over the counter in Post Office branches. Separate arrangements in non-EU/EEA countries will apply.
How long does it take to get an IDP UK?
In general, it takes up to two weeks for the IPD to arrive. It is easy to fill out the forms, but you have to wait for it to arrive in your mailbox.
FAQs about the IDP
- An international driver’s permit is not a valid driver’s licence in your home country. When driving abroad, you always need both your original driver's licence and the International Driver’s Permit.
- You cannot get an IDP if you have only a provisional licence (unless you’ve just passed your test, in which case you can apply using your test pass certificate that is valid for two years).
- You can't apply more than three months before your planned travel dates.
- An IDP can’t have a starting date before your application date (i.e., it can't be backdated).
- You need to make sure that all the information on your driver's licence is correct and that it matches the data on your home driver’s license; otherwise you may have trouble with the local police.
- An IDP will cover you for tourism purposes, but if you are taking up residence or planning to drive for employment purposes you will need to find out about your personal circumstances before relying on an IDP.
- When hiring a car abroad, remember that licence requirements worldwide do vary. If you’re making an advance reservation in the UK, ask the relevant company to confirm the driving licence requirements of the countries you’re visiting. Even if you don’t have this info, however, consider an IDP a precautionary measure, especially if travelling outside of Europe.
- Most countries require the 1949 Convention IDP, but some require the 1926 Convention IDP. Make sure you have the correct IDPs for all the countries you are intending to visit.
What happens if I drive without one?
In general, this is a major offence comparable to driving without a valid driver’s licence. This means that you should really make sure that you do not need one and that your own driver's licence will be valid in the country that you plan to drive in.
You should also keep your IDP 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. However, keep in mind that some police officers may be satisfied with just your original driver’s licence, so when asked, present that first and only show your IDP when you’ve been specifically asked to do so.
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