If you are planning to drive abroad, you may need an International Driving Permit (IDP). Local police and car hire firms may ask to see your IDP, alongside your regular driving licence. You must have both with you.
An IDP is essentially a multi-language translation of your regular driving licence.
Do I need an IDP for my destination?
More than 140 countries worldwide do require or recommend an IDP. You can check if an IDP is needed for your destination with the Post Office IDP checker.
Which IDP do I need?
The checker above will tell you which IDP you need.
At present, UK licence holders do not need an IDP to drive in the EU, EEA or Switzerland. This arrangement will last until December 2020. Any further IDP requirement for UK drivers will depend on any post-Brexit agreement. The UK government has acknowledged that if no deal is done, EU recognition of UK driving licences may end.
In the event that UK licences are not recognised after December 2020, you will need the right IDP for your destination.
- 1926 permit to drive in Liechtenstein
- 1949 permit to drive in Spain, Andorra, Cyprus
- 1968 permit to drive in all other EU Countries, plus Switzerland
IDPs for other popular destinations
- USA: 1949
- Canada: 1949
- Thailand: 1949
- Japan: 1949
How do I get an IDP?
Your local Post Office should be able to issue you with an IDP. However, be aware that some smaller Post Offices may not be set up to do it. Enter your postcode on this Post Office page to find the nearest Post Office that can issue you with an IDP.
What do I need to give the Post Office?
- Your current regular UK driving licence
- Passport photo
- Valid passport (not a copy) for identification, if you have the older paper version of the licence
The process of applying for an IDP at the Post Office can take a while, so visiting at a quieter time might be a good idea.
What if I'm caught abroad without an IDP?
You could face a police fine if you are caught driving without an IDP. There is no guarantee car hire firms or police will check, but if they do you could be out of pocket. At the very least, having an IDP will give you peace of mind.
Even if an IDP is not required for your destination, it's a good idea to get one, since it is a translation of your regular license - and therefore helps police and car hire firms establish that you are legally entitled to drive.
More information on the IDP: https://www.gov.uk/driving-abroad/international-driving-permit