If you are travelling overseas this summer and plan to take your car or hire a car when you reach your destination, you may need an International Driving Permit (IDP) in addition to your current driving licence.

Many popular holiday destinations only require that you have a full British driving licence. An IDP is not needed to drive in the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein. If you still possess a paper licence, you may require an IDP for certain EU countries.

Some countries including several in the EU require an IDP if you plan to stay in excess of 30 or 90 days, information on this is available from the GOV.UK website.

There are currently 140 countries in which an IDP is recommended or essential, including the USA, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, and Turkey.

There are three types of IDP available, it is easy to check on the GOV.UK website if your destination requires a permit and which one you will need.

Types of Internation Driving Permits

  • 1926
  • 1949
  • 1968

As of the 1st April 2024, the Post Office has stopped distributing IDPs and the service has been taken over by PayPoint, you may be familiar with PayPoint as they are located in many newsagents and other small shops. However, the facility for obtaining the IDP is only available in participating not all PayPoint outlets, the closest one to you can be found online at GOV.UK.

The International Driving Permit is only valid for a period of 1 to 3 years. The 1926 or 1949 permit lasts 12 months and the 1968 IDP last for 3 years. You must ensure that the IDP you hold that has not expired is the correct one for the country you are visiting. If your trip involves driving through several countries, you must possess an IDP that is suitable for each one, this could mean all three types.

An IDP cannot be applied for online, only in person at a participating PayPoint store. You must be present to obtain one and at least 18 years of age. If you plan to hire a vehicle, be aware that some countries require you to be over 21 years old.

Documents needed for IDP application

  • Full valid GB or Northern Ireland driving licence
  • A passport standard photograph – a recent true likeness
  • A valid passport if presenting an older paper version licence
  • The £5.50 application fee (card or cash)

If you are taking your own vehicle overseas ensure you have all the required documentation. This will include your V5C (log book) and insurance certificate (some insurance companies require that you inform them of your plan to drive abroad). There may be other documents required and it is best to check the rules in the country you are visiting.

Depending on the country or countries you are visiting you may need:

  • Safety equipment including a reflective jacket and a warning triangle is a legal requirement in many countries.
  • Emission permits, these are a requirement in some cities and need to be ordered in advance of your trip.
  • A UK sticker.
  • Headlight converter stickers.

Prior to your overseas trip, it is advisable to look at the rules and laws of the road in the country you are visiting. Legal requirements can be quite different abroad and ignorance is not an excuse if you fall foul of their driving laws. Good preparation will help keep you safe and able to enjoy a great road trip.

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