Most of us won’t have spared much thought for international driving permits. Currently, they’re only needed when driving in countries outside the EU and EEA, so it’s not something to worry about if you’re taking a family road trip through France or Spain.
But uncertainty around Brexit has raised the issue of Brits driving abroad, and now the government has issued a statement about what might change with regards to international driving permits after 31 October 2019 – the UK’s deadline for leaving the EU.
If you’re planning on driving overseas in the next 12 months, either in your own car or a hire car, you need to know the rules about international driving permits, especially in Europe. In this guide, we’ll tell you when you might need an international driving permit (IDP) and the type to buy depending on the countries you’re visiting.
Use the links below to find the information you need.
- Driving in the EU and EEA After Brexit
- The Different Types of International Driving Permits
- How to Check which Type of International Driving Permit You Need
- Where to Buy International Driving Permits
- Other Things to Remember About Driving Abroad
Because there’s still so much uncertainty around Brexit and whether the UK will get an exit deal, the government has laid out two possible scenarios for driving abroad after we’ve left the EU:
- Deal – If an EU exit deal is struck before 31 October 2019, UK driving licence holders will be able to continue to drive in the EU and EEA without an international driving permit. They will still need an IDP for driving in other countries, such as the USA.
- No deal – If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, drivers will need an international driving permit to drive in some EU and EEA countries, like France, Germany and Greece. The government has already made arrangements with some countries, including Spain and Belgium, to continue accepting the UK driving licence in the event of a no-deal Brexit, particularly for things like holidays and business trips. It’s expected that similar arrangements will be made with other countries if a no-deal starts to look more certain.
Right now, UK licence holders can still drive in all EU and EEA countries as normal, so it’s nothing to worry about until the Brexit deadline of 31 October 2019.
As if the issue of post-Brexit driving permits wasn’t complicated enough, drivers will need to make sure they get the right type of IDP depending on the country they’re visiting. The UK issues three types of IDPs, including:
- 1926 IDP
- 1949 IDP
- 1968 IDP
Different countries both inside and outside the EU recognise different international driving permits, so you’ll need to make sure you get the right one. Also, it’s worth remembering that you may need to buy more than one IDP if you’re planning on driving between two or more different countries, because one may not be valid for all the places you’re planning to visit.
And, there are different conditions that may mean you need to get an IDP, for instance, if you’re hiring a car or plan to stay longer than 30 days.
Not sure which type of international driving permit you need? We’ve listed the requirements for each EU country in the table below. Remember, this only applies if the UK leaves the EU without a deal from 31 October 2019.
|Belgium||No IDP required||185 days maximum stay|
|Czech Republic||1968 IDP|
|Denmark||No IDP required||90 days maximum stay|
|Iceland||No IDP required||30 days maximum stay|
|Ireland||No IDP required||12 months maximum stay|
|Lithuania||1968 IDP||No IDP required if you have a photocard UK licence, for a maximum of 185 days|
|Luxembourg||No IDP required||185 days maximum stay|
|Malta||No IDP required||12 months maximum stay|
|Norway||1968 IDP||No IDP required if you have a photocard UK licence, for a maximum of 90 days|
|Poland||1968 IDP||No IDP required if you have a photocard UK licence, for a maximum of 185 days|
|Portugal||No IDP required||185 days maximum stay|
|Slovenia||No IDP required||90 days maximum stay|
|Spain||No IDP required||6 months maximum stay|
Other Ways to Check International Driving Permit Requirements
If you need additional help and advice deciding which international driving permit you need, we’d recommend the Post Office IDP Checker. This is a great tool for quickly finding information about a country’s IDP requirements, both before and after the Brexit deadline, and it also tells you how long each IDP is valid for in specific countries – which is handy if you enjoy overseas driving holidays but don’t want to keep shelling out for new permits every year.
Gov.uk also has a range of helpful guides that explain IDP requirements and advise on how to legally drive abroad in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Click here for their guide on driving in the EU after Brexit.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, it’s very likely that you’ll need to buy an IDP to stay legal while driving on the continent. Below, we’ve answered a few common questions about where to get an international driving permit and how much they cost.
Where do I get an international driving permit?
IDPs are available to buy over the counter at the Post Office.
How much do IDPs cost?
All IDPs cost £5.50, which is an application fee. However, each EU country has its own rules on how long an IDP is valid for, so you may need to re-buy an IDP every 12 months or every three years depending on the country.
What will I need to bring to apply for an international driving permit?
Bring the following to the Post Office when buying an IDP:
- Full UK driving licence (photocard or paper)
- A recent passport photograph
- If you only have a paper licence, you’ll also need to bring along your passport as proof of ID
Can I buy more than one IDP at a time?
Yes, you can apply for as many IDPs as you need for your trip. Just make sure you check each country’s IDP requirements carefully, so you don’t end up applying for an IDP you don’t need.
Wherever you’re heading for your overseas road trip, there are a few essentials to remember to make sure you’re legal and above board:
- Hiring a car? Check the IDP rules carefully – Some hire car firms require all drivers to have an IDP, so read the small print carefully and get this sorted before you travel.
- Display a GB national identifier sticker – Even after the UK leaves the EU, drivers will still need to display a GB national identifier on their car.
- Bring your proof-of-ownership documents – It’s a good idea to bring your V5C registration document when driving your own car abroad.
- Buy separate car insurance – Currently, you don’t need to buy separate car insurance when driving in the EU and EEA, but this might change from 31 October 2019 if the UK leaves without a deal. In this instance, you’ll need to buy a ‘green card’ if you want to be covered under your normal insurance. Read the MoneySavingExpert.com guide to green card car insurance in Europe.
So there you have it, our complete guide to everything you need to know about international driving permits and driving in the EU after Brexit. For more motoring tips and advice, read the Holts blog or visit our homepage to find out about our DIY car maintenance products.