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
On 13th September 2018, the UK Government published its latest round of technical notices which included what will be required in the event of the UK leaving the European Union without a deal.

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

When is the UK leaving the EU?

The UK will leave the EU on 29th March 2019 at 11pm.

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

This is entirely dependent whether a deal is struck and what sort of deal that is.

However, in the event of no-deal being agreed, UK drivers taking their car to, or driving in EU states may require additional documentation to their UK driving licence.

In the event of no-deal, 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).

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

Which IDP will I require?

  • 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.
  • 1929 IDP: A 1929 IDP is not required in any EU state (though you may require it if your onward travel is to Iraq or Somalia. Brazil also recognises this version).

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Where can I get an IDP?

Presently, the RAC issues the 1949 version of the IDP, alongside the Post Office, however from 1st February 2019, you will only be able to get IDPs from the Post Office.

The RAC will not issue IDPs from this date.

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 1929) at 2,500 Post Offices across the UK. The UK Government will announce which Post Office branches will offer IDPs in early 2019.

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 2 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.

Should I get my IDP now, just in case?

If you are travelling in the EU after 29th March 2019, you may wish to purchase a 1949 version from the RAC which will remain valid for 12 months, but this would only be required if you are using a vehicle in Spain, Malta, Ireland or Cyprus after the UK leaves and if no deal is agreed. 

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

A 1968 version of the IDP will only be available for purchase from 1st February 2019.

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

The UK Government will have 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.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, 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 29 March 2019.

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

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Following the publication by the Government of guidance on driving in the EU in the event of a 'no-deal' Brexit, RAC Europe spokesperson Rod Dennis said: 

“Research we conducted showed that drivers are concerned that the ease, and relative affordability, of driving across the Channel will be eroded from next March.

"While the majority would like certainty that costs and inconvenience will not increase (59% and 57% respectively), four in 10 (41%) of drivers believe it will get more expensive and 55% think there will be more hassle.

“For the 2.6m private motorists and lorry drivers that head to EU countries each year, we would hope that any Brexit agreement makes travel as seamless and straightforward as possible.

"However, it is right that in the event of a ‘no-deal’ with the EU, the Government takes steps to make sure motorists know what is required when driving in EU countries.

“If no deal is reached, motorists planning on taking their car to EU countries after 29th March 2019 may be required to apply for one or possibly two different International Driving Permits (IDPs).

"From the 1st February 2019, IDPs will be available only through the Post Office at a cost of £5.50 per document. At present, motorists do not require an IDP to drive in EU states.

"An IDP may also be required for UK drivers hiring vehicles when in the EU. But ultimately, whether an IDP is required is dependent on negotiations between the Government and the European Union.”

Where can I read more?

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

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

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