International Driving Permit: how to get one and where you need it

International Driving Permit: how to get one and where you need it
Important: The RAC has now stopped issuing International Driving Permits (IDPs). From 1st February 2019 the Post Office is the sole issuer of IDPs. You can use the Post Office website to find out which branches can issue IDPs.

When taking your car abroad, some countries require UK drivers to have an International Driving Permit (IDP) before they can legally drive in them.

This international driving permit is in addition to, not a replacement of, your UK driving licence - which you also need to take with you if you're driving and/or hiring a car abroad.

Here we explain what you need to know about IDPs before leaving on your trip, covering everything from where you’ll need one, to how to apply for it.

Guide contents


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What is an IDP?

An IDP is an official document that effectively validates your UK driving licence internationally.

While it's not needed everywhere, it is required in more than 140 countries and in these places you won’t be able to drive without one.

Key IDP facts

  • An IDP is valid for a maximum one year
  • You must be at least 18 years old to apply for an IDP
  • You must have a valid full driving licence to apply for an IDP
  • You can't apply for an IDP more than three months before you intend to travel
  • You can't get an IDP issued retrospectively
  • Most countries require the 1949 Convention IDP, but some require the 1926 Convention IDP. Make sure you have the correct IDPs for all the countries you are intending to visit. For more information visit the Government website  
  • An IDP will cover you for tourism purposes, but if you are taking up residence or planning to drive for employment purposes you will need to find out about your personal circumstances before relying on an IDP
  • If you remain unsure about your personal needs, it is best to consider applying for an IDP as a precautionary measure

A lot of people mistakenly refer to an IDP as an international driving licence.

How do I get an IDP?

Getting an IDP is a relatively simple process that can be done through the RAC until 31 January 2019 if you are travelling before that date. We can issue both the 1926 and the 1949 Convention IDPs.

From 1st February 2019, however, motorists applying for an IDP will need to apply through the Post Office. These will be available through 2,500 branches over the counter and will no longer be issued by mail order.

To be eligible for an IDP you must:

  • Have a full UK driving licence (not provisional) covering the type of vehicle you're planning to drive abroad - be a permanent resident of the UK
  • Be a permanent resident of the UK
  • Be 18 or over

What if I’ve lost my original UK driving licence?

If you cannot provide a photocopy of your UK driving licence or complete details on the application because the original is lost or with the DVLA for re-issue etc, you should contact the DVLA on 0870 240 0009**.

Can I get an IDP with a provisional UK licence?

No, you need a valid full driving licence to apply for an IDP.

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Do I need an IDP to drive in Europe?

As a general rule, all valid UK photocard driving licences should be accepted in other EU/EEA countries. Older driving licences that are not the standardised EU photocard style, however, may not be accepted in other EU/EEA countries and thus drivers might wish to apply for an IDP to accompany these older licences.

For European countries outside the EU, UK driving licences may not be accepted and you may require an IDP. For further details on the requirements of these countries visit the Government website, or check with the country’s embassy directly.  

Please note, that once the UK formally leaves the EU, these rules may change and will be dependent on what deal the Government gets with the EU. For more information on driving in EU states post-Brexit, please see the RAC’s Q&A page.

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

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