How to get an International Driving Permit?

When the UK officially leaves the EU at the end of the year, there will be many changes to our current regulations.

One of the critical adjustments is the guidelines for driving abroad and when we will need an International Driving Permit.

How to get an International Driving Permit?

These new laws will come into effect from 1st January 2021. So, if you plan on travelling abroad next year, then you need to act now! Alternatively, your plans for globetrotting could be scuppered.

Read on for everything you need to know about taking your car outside the UK and what documentation you will need following Brexit.

What is an International Driving Permit?

Effectively, an International Driving Permit (IDP) is a document authorising you to drive in a specific country. It is a multi-language translation of your driving license, and it is required in certain countries throughout the world and in some states in the USA.

Whether you need an IDP will depend on where you are planning to travel to. If you need one, then they are mandatory. You will also have to carry your UK driving license alongside your IDP for it to be valid.

An IDP is not the same as an international driving license, and these two should not be confused.

Can I just use my UK driving licence in the EU after Brexit?

No. After the 31st December 2020, you cannot use your UK driving license on its own in certain EU and EEA countries. You will need a corresponding IDP.

There are three types of IDP and what you need depends on where you are travelling to.

What are the different types of International Driving Permit?

There are three different types of IDP, and these are coded depending on your area of travel. They are as follows:

  1. A 1949 Convention IDP for Andorra and Cyprus.
  2. A 1968 Convention IDP for Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Monaco, Netherlands, Slovakia, and Sweden.
  3. A 1926 Convention IDP that covers Liechtenstein

What if I still only have a paper license?

If you still only have a paper license and not a UK photo card license, the rules will slightly vary. You will also need:

  • A 1968 IDP for the following countries: Austria, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Romania, and Poland.

How do I check if I need an International Driving Permit?

From 1st January 2021, you will need an IDP to drive in some EU and EEA countries. The permit you need will depend on:

  • Which country are you visiting?
  • How long will you be staying?

The government website has a full table detailing which countries and territories need an IDP. It also confirms whether you require a 1949, 1968 or 1926 permits. The table also states whether there are additional specific requirements for the region.

Before applying for your IDP and before travelling you should check further precise requirements. For example:

  • Ensure that you have a valid driving license. You will need a legal Great Britain or Northern Ireland license to obtain an IDP. Also, ensure your license is not due to expire when you are away.
  • If you are travelling through more than one country, then you may need more than one IDP.
  • If you are hiring a vehicle abroad, then check with the hiring company about your requirements.
  • If the country you are visiting is not included on the list, then check with the specific embassy in question.

Where can I drive in the EU and EEA without an International Driving Permit after Brexit? 

Twelve countries have confirmed that UK license holders will not need an IDP when visiting after Brexit.

As long as you have a valid UK photo card or UK paper license, you will not need an IDP to drive in the following destinations after 31st December 2020:

  1. Belgium: For visits up to 185 days
  2. Denmark: For visits up to 90 days
  3. Finland
  4. Hungary: For visits up to 12 months
  5. Ireland: For visits up to 12 months
  6. Iceland: For visits up to 1 month
  7. Luxembourg: For visits up to 185 days
  8. Malta: For visits up to 12 months
  9. Portugal: For visits up to 185 days
  10. Slovenia: For visits up to 90 days
  11. Spain: For nine months after EU exit day. The for visits up to 6 months
  12. Switzerland

Will I need to display a GB emblem sticker after Brexit?  

Yes. All vehicles registered in the UK will need to display a certified GB sticker when driving in any EU country.

The decal must be displayed on the rear of all vehicles registered in the UK and Northern Ireland. While Northern Ireland is not part of Great Britain, the GB marker is still used.

You will also require a GB sticker even if your vehicle registration plate includes a GB logo.

What if I am driving through more than one country?

As above, the type of permit you require depends on your destination and the length of your stay. Therefore if you are driving through more than one country, you may need more than one type of IDP.

How do I get an International Driving Permit?

You can apply for an IDP at your local Post Office counter. ]

To be applicable, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Live in Great Britain or Northern Ireland
  • Have a full and valid UK driving license
  • Be 18 years of age or over


What documentation do I need to apply for an International Driving Permit?

You can apply for an IDP at your local Post Office using the following documentation:

  • Your current, valid driving license. You will not need the paper slip; just the card will suffice
  • An additional form of identification, such as your passport
  • One passport photo per permit. The same passport photo rules apply, so you will need a plain background, no headwear, no smiling etc. You must sign the rear of the photograph too.
  • You will need the details of the country or countries you are visiting so the Post Office tender can allocate you the correct permit(s)
  • Ensure that you notify the tender if you are taking a motorhome as additional parts of your permit need to be completed

How long does it take to apply for an International Driving Permit?  

For straightforward applications, you can get your IDP over the counter on the same day. The certificate will be valid immediately.

A permit cannot be backdated but you can pre-order your IDP up to three months before your date of intended use.

How much does an International Driving Permit cost?  

Despite there being three different types of IDP, all versions cost £5.50.

Remember, you may need more than one type of IDP and therefore if you need two different permits, then the cost will be £11.

Which permit you need and how many you require will depend on your specific journey.

How long is an International Driving Permit valid for? 

Depending on the type of permit you require, an IDP can be valid from 1 to 3 years from the date of issue.

If you need a permit for longer than this period, then you will need to reapply for a second permit.

  • A 1926 or 1949 permit lasts for 12 months.
  • A 1968 permit lasts for three years, or until your UK driving licence expires, whichever comes first.

You must research your destination before travel, as some countries have their own IDP rules and regulations.

Is my car insured abroad? 

Previously your car insurer was legally obligated to provide insurance cover in all EU countries plus Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia, and Switzerland. This inherent part of your car insurance policy generally prevented the need for Green Cards. A Green Card is an internationally accepted translation of your insurance certificate demonstrating that you are legally covered to drive outside the UK.

When the UK leaves the EU, this will change. UK motorists will need to carry a Green Card as proof of third-party motor insurance cover. This will apply when driving in the EU, EEA, Andorra, Serbia, and Switzerland.

It is also worth checking with the consulate you are travelling to, as some countries require separate insurance for trailers.

What documents do I need on my person when driving abroad in Europe?

From 1st January 2021, you will need the following documents on your person when driving in relevant countries:

  • A Green Card
  • Your certificate of Motor Insurance
  • The logbook (V5C) for the vehicle
  • A relevant IDP

What if I do not have an International Driving Permit?

The consequences of not having an IDP will vary depending on the country you are in. However, you could be given a fine, a citation or even have your vehicle confiscated if you fail to provide an IDP with your driving license.

If you are in a hire vehicle, then you may also receive a surcharge from the hiring company. This could cover the costs of releasing the vehicle from a police compound or additional administration fees.

What happens if I am stopped and given a penalty when driving abroad with my International Driving Permit?

An IDP is simply a permit showing you are allowed to drive in a particular region. It does not have any powers of its own, separate from your driving license.

Therefore you do not have a distinct driving record when using or driving under the permissions of your IDP.

If you are travelling abroad and are stopped by an enforcement officer or given a driving fine, then the penalty will be recorded on your driving license and not the International Driving Permit.

Key Takeaway

There are many changes afoot at the end of the year due to Brexit. 

Thankfully obtaining an IDP is an easy process that requires very little documentation, very little expense, and very little time.

However, you must stay up-to-date with all amendments to the law as they could change between now and January 2021.

If you are concerned, in need of further advice, or you feel that your circumstances are more complex, then reach out to one of our motoring solicitors today.

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