International Driving Permits and Brexit – your questions answered about driving in the EU

International Driving Permits and Brexit – your questions answered about driving in the EU
Will you need an International Driving Permit (IDP) for a road trip abroad? And if so, what kind of IDP will you need?  

Read on for the answers to your most common questions about international Driving Permits after Brexit.

Find out more information about driving in the EU after Brexit.

Please note that this advice was correct on August 17th 2021 but may change.

Will I need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive abroad?

That depends on which country you’re visiting and how long you plan to stay.

If you’re planning to drive in Europe, you won’t need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, provided you have a photocard driving licence issued in the UK.

If you have a paper driving licence or a licence issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man you might need an IDP to drive in some EU countries.

You can check with the embassy of the country you’ll be driving in or by using the Post Office IDP Checker tool.

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Which IDP will I need?

There are three types of IDPs available, though only two are used in EU states and European Economic Area countries.

  • 1949 IDP: Might be needed if you are travelling to Malta with a paper licence or a driving licence from Guernsey or the Isle of Man. Needed for visits longer than 30 days in Cyprus and visits of any length if you hold a paper licence or a driving licence from Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man. The 1949 convention IDP is valid for 12 months.
  • 1968 IDP: If you are travelling to all other EU states, you may require a 1968 IDP. It also might be needed for trips to Norway if you hold a paper licence. The 1968 convention IDP is valid for three years, or for however long your driving licence is valid if that date is earlier.
  • 1926 IDP: A 1926 IDP is not required in any EU state. However, it is required if you plan to drive in Mexico or Somalia.

For further details on IDPs read our guide on how to get an International Driving Permit and where you need it.

Where can I get an IDP?

From 1st February 2019 the Post Office became the sole issuer of IDPs. To find out which branches can issue IDPs use the Post Office website . The RAC does not issue IDPs.

You can apply for all three types of IDP (1949, 1968 and 1926) at 2,500 Post Offices across the UK. The Government anticipates that 90% of the UK population are no more than 10 minutes away from a Post Office issuing IDPs.1

If you currently have a 1949 IDP, this will remain valid until the date it expires.

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How long will the process take?

Getting an IDP over a Post Office counter takes around five minutes on a turn-up-and-go basis.

How much does an International Driving Permit cost?

A single IDP costs £5.50.

What if you are hiring a vehicle abroad?

You may also need an IDP to hire a vehicle when you are abroad, alongside your UK driving licence.

You will need to check with the rental company but it may be a wise precaution to get an IDP anyway.

What’s more, you may want to think about getting car hire excess insurance before you go. If you damage your rental car, the rental company will charge you – with hire excess protection you can claim the money back.

Cover is available from the equivalent of £7 a day2, based on UK resident buying a single trip policy to cover 10 days car rental in Europe.

Should I get my IDP right away?

IDPs are valid for 12 months so you might want to consider buying one if your travel plans fall within that window.

You can use the Post Office IDP Checker to see if you’ll need an IDP for your driving destination.

What if I plan on moving to an EU country?

If you plan on moving to the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland you will not be able to renew your driving licence in the UK.

You should consider exchanging your UK driving licence for a local licence, instead.3

Check for advice on what to do with your UK driving licence if you move to another country.

Will I require any additional vehicle insurance documents?

From 2nd August 2021, motorists will no longer require an insurance green card to drive their vehicles to the EU.

GB stickers post-Brexit

From 28th September 2021, the distinguishing mark (or national identifier) displayed on vehicles registered in the United Kingdom that are driven abroad will change from GB to UK.  

This means that vehicles registered in the UK must display the letters “UK” when driven in the EU.   

The identifier can be incorporated in vehicle number plates (along with the Union Flag) or as a separate sticker. The exceptions are Cyprus, Malta and Spain where stickers must be displayed no matter what is shown on you number plate.

Note that vehicles featuring the letters GB together with the Council of Europe golden stars are no longer valid for driving abroad.

If your vehicle does not have the UK identifier within the number plate, you will need a UK sticker. GB stickers will no longer be valid from the end of September.

Get cover from one hour to 30 days with our temporary car insurance product today.

Did you know, you can get fined for moving out of the way of an ambulance?

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1. https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2019-02-12/debates/259C3EA2-682F-4F80-B9FB-37199EDD3802/MotorVehicles(InternationalCirculation)(Amendment)(EUExit)Order2019 
2. Based on UK resident buying a single trip policy to cover 10 days car rental in Europe https://www.rac.co.uk/breakdown-cover/european-breakdown-cover/single-trip 
3. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/driving-in-the-eu-uk-licence-holders-living-in-the-eu

† Price for 1 day cover for up to 9 people travelling in a vehicle up to 1 year old in Zone 1. For more information visit rac.co.uk/breakdown-cover/european-breakdown-cover