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
The UK Government has published a round of technical notices outlining what drivers will have to be aware of when the UK leaves the European Union.

We compiled a summary of these notices to help understand what will happen in this scenario and what sort of actions you should take.

When is the UK leaving the EU?

The UK is due to leave the European Union on 31 January 2020.

What happens when the UK leaves the EU and what will the impact be on driving abroad?

Whilst the UK is due to leave the EU at the end of January, the country will actually enter a transition period where current rules will still apply until the end of the transition period which finishes in December 2020.

This period may be extended if no trade deal has been finalised at this point, despite the prime minister saying he doesn’t want an extension to the transition period.

This means that though we might formally leave the EU, there is no requirement for IDPs until the transition period is finished – and their future requirement will be dependent on what sort of UK-EU trade deal is negotiated.

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

Please note that this advice was correct on January 20th 2020, but may change as the UK works on a trade deal with the EU throughout the transition period in 2020. The below advice should be followed under the assumption that no agreement is made about IDPs during the 2020 transition period.

What will I need if I take my car abroad?

In addition to your UK driving licence, motorists may also be required to purchase an International Driving Permit (IDP) after the transition period finishes.

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

Which IDP will I need?

  • 1949 IDP: If you are travelling to Ireland, Malta, Spain or Cyprus, you may require a 1949 IDP. 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. 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. You may need a 1926 IDP to drive in Liechtenstein as well.

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

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Where can I get an IDP?

The RAC has now stopped issuing International Driving Permits (IDPs).

From 1st February 2019 the Post Office became the sole issuer of IDPs. You can use the Post Office website to find out which branches can issue IDPs.

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

You will be able to 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 will be no more than 10 minutes away from a Post Office issuing IDPs.

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 will cost £5.50

What about if I drive to Spain via France where two types of IDP may be required?

You may need to purchase both the 1949 and the 1968 versions of IDPs, costing £11

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 £2.991 a day, based on UK resident buying a single trip policy to cover 10 days car rental in Europe.

Should I get my IDP now, just in case?

It depends on what kind of trade deal is negotiated during the 2020 transition period. IDPs are valid for 12 months so you might want to consider buying one if your travel plans fall within that window.

If no agreement is met in terms of IDPs:

  • A 1949 version of the IDP may be required when driving in Spain, Malta, Ireland and Cyprus.
  • All other EU countries would require a 1968 IDP, available over the counter in Post Office branches.

You can use the Post Office website to find out which branches can issue IDPs.  

Separate arrangements in non-EU/EEA countries will apply.

I don’t need an IDP to drive in some countries, so why would I need it in the EU?

The UK Government has existing arrangements with some countries surrounding mutual recognition of driving licences.

Within the EU presently, UK driving licences are governed by the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on driving licences.

Depending on the trade deal agreed during the transition period, pre-existing agreements on licence recognition may then apply.

What if I plan on moving to an EU country?

The UK Government states: “If, after exit day, you become resident in an EU country you would not have the automatic right under EU law to exchange your UK licence for a driving licence from the EU country you’re living in.

"Depending on the laws of the EU country you move to, you may need to take a new driving test in that country.

"You can avoid this by exchanging your UK driving licence for one from the EU country you move to or live in before the formal leaving date.

"UK licence holders who do this, will be able to re-exchange for a UK licence if they return to live in the UK.”

Will I require any additional vehicle insurance documents?

The Government announced on 24th September that drivers hiring or taking their vehicle abroad post-Brexit would need to carry a Green Card as proof of third party motor insurance cover when driving in the EU, EEA, Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland.

Motorists should speak to their insurance company if they are driving in these states after January 31st.

Buy a European Driving Kit from £20.99

Don’t get stung with fines abroad for not having a European Driving Kit.

GB stickers post-Brexit

UK-registered cars will need to display a GB sticker when driving in any of the 27 EU countries – including the Republic of Ireland.

Drivers currently only need the sticker if their car does not have blue EU registration plates that display the ‘GB’ initials, but that could soon change.

Don't risk invalidating your insurance in Ireland and elsewhere in Europe – pick up a European Driving Kit from RAC Shop which contains the GB sticker you need as well as other legally required items for driving abroad.

Get a GB sticker


For further reading, please see the Government’s technical papers on Driving in the EU 


1 Based on UK resident buying a single trip policy to cover 10 days car rental in Europe

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

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† 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