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International Driving Permit - Where Do You Need It? | April 2019

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.

 

Oh, right! What is an International Driving Permit?

An International Driver’s Permit (IDP) is an official document that validates your driving licence in other countries. For validation of your IDP, you need to have – of course – a valid driving licence.
 
An IDP is a requirement for hiring a car in over 140 countries. We should warn you that driving without an IDP can result in very high fees, so if you don't consider yourself a gambler – get your IDP!
 
In this article, we answer your most asked questions about renting a car and International Driving Permit:

How does IDP look like? 

International driving permit

An IDP is essentially a multi-language translation of your driving licence which is slightly larger than your passport and accompanied by your photo and vital personal information.

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, on where you're coming from. For example, if your driving licence was issued in the UK, you won't need an IDP in EU/EEA countries, but you will need an IDP when travelling to the USA.  
 
An international driving permit (IDP) is required or recommended in the following countries:

 

Afghanistan

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 licence 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, an international driving permit must be endorsed by the 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 licence. 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 licence from the local authority.

Finland

Recommended

France

Recommended

Gambia

You can get a temporary licence from the local authority.

Ghana

Recommended

Greece

Required for 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 licence doesn't have a stamped photograph, an international driving permit (IDP) is required.

Japan

Required

Jordan

Required

Kazakhstan

Recommended

Kirghizstan

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 licence 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 licence is required for all non-EU residents.

Switzerland

An international driving licence 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 licence from your own country. For more information, click here.

Uzbekistan

Required

Venezuela

Required

Vietnam

Required

Zaire

Required

Zambia

Recommended

Zimbabwe

Required

 

 

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.

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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