An International Driving Permit is sometimes required if you will be driving abroad. Below, we explain exactly what the permit is, when you might need one, and how you can apply for one.
What is an International Driving Permit?
An International Driving Permit, also referred to as an IDP, is a permit that is needed to drive some countries. There are around 140 countries across the world where driving with your UK driving licence is not sufficient, and an IDP will be required. The IDP is, essentially, a translation of your driving licence that can be used in multiple languages.
When is an International Driving Permit required?
Whether or not you need an IDP will depend on which country you will be driving in and how long you will be driving there.
There are three types of IPD – 1926, 1949, and 1968. Which IDP you need will depend on which country you’re travelling to. If you’re planning on driving in multiple countries, you may need more than one type of IDP. For example, to drive in Brazil, you will need a 1968 IDP. To drive in Venezuela, you will need a 1949 IDP.
Generally, you do not need an IDP to drive in EU countries and Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Lichtenstein as long as you have a photocard driving licence that has been issued in the UK. However, there are some exceptions to this.
For example, you will not need an IDP to drive in Belgium if your stay is shorter than six months. However, if you stay for longer than six months, or if you have a paper driving licence, you will likely need a 1968 IDP.
The Post Office has a handy IDP checker where you can look up whether you’ll need an IDP and which type for the country you will be driving in. You can always check with the country’s embassy if you are unsure about what documents you will need to drive there.
How do I get an International Driving Permit?
The easiest way to get an IDP is to visit your nearest participating Post Office branch. You can check which is the closest branch to you that offers this service on the Post Office website.
Only those with a full, valid UK or Northern Ireland driving licence will be able to apply for an IDP – those with a provisional licence can’t apply. You will need to take your licence with you when you apply for the IDP. If you have an older paper licence without a photocard, you will also need to bring your passport as a form of photo ID. All applicants will need to bring a passport standard photograph of themselves for the IDP.
The IDP has a £5.50 application fee, which will need to be paid for at the Post Office.
How long is an IDP valid?
An IDP will be valid between one and three years, depending on the type of permit you get. You can use one permit in multiple countries multiple times, as long as it is the correct type for those countries. If your driving licence expires before the IDP, the IDP will no longer be valid.
Some countries will have a restriction on how long you can drive there, regardless of the length of the IDP. You should always check the specific rules for the country you’ll be driving in.
What documents do I need to carry when driving abroad?
For those countries that require an IDP, you will need to carry this permit as well as your UK-issued driving licence. You may also need your certificate of motor insurance as well as the V5 log book for the vehicle, or your hire documents if you will be renting a car.
It can be best to always carry these documents with you when driving abroad, but in some countries, you will receive a fine if you don’t have the required paperwork present when driving. Again, you should always check the specific rules for the country you’re visiting.