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International Driving Permits: What you need to know

If you’re thinking of driving abroad, make sure you have the right documentation, including an international driving permit, sometimes called an international driver’s licence, before you hit the road. 

International Driving Permit with British Passport

 

What is an international driving permit?

If you plan on driving abroad, chances are you need an international driving permit (IDP).

You might also see this document referred to as an international driver’s licence.

In a nutshell, an IDP lets you drive in more than 140 countries, including the USA.

It’s a multinational version of your UK driving licence.

The IDP is used as a complement to your UK driving licence, not a replacement. So make sure you have both with you when you drive abroad.

There are three different types of permit – the one you need depends on the country you're driving in.

If you’re planning to drive in more than one country, you might need more than one IDP.

Once your IDP has expired, you need to make a new application.

IDPs are different from green cards, which are used as proof of car insurance abroad.

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When do I need an international driving permit?

In some countries, it’s a legal requirement to have an international driving permit or international driver’s licence In others it’s not compulsory, but car rental companies might not let you hire a car without one. So, to make things easier all round it’s probably worth your while getting an IDP, just in case.

Meanwhile, a few countries put restrictions on drivers, even with an IDP.

If you like to be prepared, you can get organised in advance and delay the start date of your IDP for up to three months.

Skip to the bottom to see a full list of countries where an IDP is needed, along with which type of permit you need for each destination.

EU countries

Broadly speaking, you don’t need an IDP to drive in the EU if you have a photocard driving licence issued in the UK.

Although there are some slight variations from country to country.

For example, in Cyprus you need  a permit if your visit is longer than 30 days.

In Estonia you need one if you’re in the country for more than 90 days in any 180-day period.

In Luxembourg, you don’t need one unless you’re there for more than six months.

If you have an old-style paper driving licence, you might need an IDP, but again it depends on which country you’re visiting.

If your driving licence was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man, you might need a permit.

Yet again, though, this varies from country to country so it’s important to check before you travel.

Norway

You don’t need an IDP if your visit is for up to 90 days. If your driving licence is a paper one, you might need a permit.

The advice is to check with the Norwegian embassy before you travel.

Switzerland

You don’t need a permit to drive in Switzerland.

USA

You do need an IDP to drive in the United States. You might also have  to show it to your insurance company if you’re involved in an accident.

If you have a paper driving licence, you must have another form of photographic ID with you, such as your passport.

Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand

As with most non-EU countries, an IDP is required if you want to get behind the wheel.

 

What type of IDP do I need?

There are three types of international driving permit. Which one you need depends where you're driving.

  • IDP 1926
  • IDP 1949
  • IDP 1968

 

What happens if I drive without an international driving permit?

This varies by country. But you could be hit with a fine or have your car confiscated if you aren’t able to show a valid IDP with your driving licence.

If you’re in a hire car when this happens, the hire car company is likely to charge you for the cost of releasing the car from the police.

 

How do I apply for an international driving permit? 

You can’t apply for an international driving permit online.  

To get your international driver’s licence you need to apply in person at the Post Office.

To be eligible for an international driving permit, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a UK resident
  • Have a valid, full UK driving licence
  • Although the minimum age to get an IDP is 18, some countries insist that you must be over 21 to hire a car.

When you go to the Post Office, make sure you take with you:

  • Your full valid driving licence
  • A passport-sized photo that you’ve signed on the back
  • Your passport as ID, if you have an old paper driving licence

The IDP costs £5.50.

 

How long does it take to get an international driving permit?

The application process is straightforward and you should be able to pick up an IDP on the day you apply.

 

How long is an international driver's permit valid for? 

An international driving permit lasts for between one and three years, depending on the type of permit you apply for.

The 1926 and 1949 permits last for one year, while the 1968 lasts for three years (unless your UK driving licence runs out before then).

 

Full list of countries where you need an international driving permit

According to GOV.UK, these are the countries that you'll need an IDP in and what type you'll need. 

Country or territory Type of IDP More information
Albania
1968
 
Algeria
1949
 
Andorra
1949
 
Argentina
1949
 
Armenia
1968
 
Australia
1949
 
Austria
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here.
Azerbaijan
1968
 
Bahamas
1968
IDP needed for stays longer than 90 days.
Bahrain
1968
IDP needed for car hire, and for stays longer than 90 days. You must get your permit certified by local authorities when you arrive.
Bangladesh
1949
 
Barbados
1949
 
Belarus
1968
 
Belgium
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 6 months. If you hold a paper driving licence or a driving licence from Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man, you may need a 1968 IDP. Check with the Belgian Embassy.
Benin
1949
 
Bosnia and Herzegovina
1968
 
Botswana
1949
IDP needed for car hire.
Brazil
1968
Bulgaria
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here.
Burkina Faso
1949
 
Cambodia
1949
 
Canada
1949
 
Cape Verde
1968
 
Central African Republic
1968
 
Chile
1949
 
Congo
1949
 
Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
1968
 
Croatia
None
If you hold a paper driving licence or a driving licence from Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man, you may need a 1968 IDP. Check with the Croatian Embassy.
Cuba
1968
 
Cyprus
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here for visits up to 30 days. For visits longer than 30 days you will need a 1949 IDP. If you hold a paper driving licence or a driving licence from Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man, you may need a 1949 IDP for any length of visit. Check with the High Commission of Cyprus.
Czech Republic
None
If you hold a paper driving licence or a driving licence from the Isle of Man, you may need a 1968 IDP. Check with the Czech Republic Embassy.
Democratic Republic of Congo
1968
 
Denmark
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 90 days.
Dominican Republic
1949
IDP needed for stays longer than 90 days.
Ecuador
1949
 
Egypt
1949
 
Estonia
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. If you hold a paper driving licence you may need a 1968 IDP. Check with the Estonian Embassy.
Eswatini (previously Swaziland)
1949
If you have an older, paper UK driving licence, you must take another form of photographic ID, such as your passport. You may need to show an IDP to your insurance company if you’re involved in an accident.
Fiji
1949
 
Finland
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here.
France
None
If you hold a paper driving licence or a driving licence from Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man, you may need a 1968 IDP. Check with the French Embassy.
French Polynesia
1968
 
Georgia
1968
IDP needed for stays longer than 90 days.
Germany
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 6 months. If you hold a paper driving licence or a driving licence from the Isle of Man, you may need a 1968 IDP. Check with the German Embassy.
Ghana
1949
 
Greece
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here.
Guam
1949
IDP needed for stays longer than 30 days. If you have an older, paper UK driving licence, you must take another form of photographic ID, such as your passport. You may need to show an IDP to your insurance company if you’re involved in an accident.
Guatemala
1949
 
Guyana
1968
 
Haiti
1949
IDP needed for stays longer than 90 days.
Hungary
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 12 months. If you hold a paper driving licence or a driving licence from the Isle of Man, you may need a 1968 IDP. Check with the Hungarian Embassy.
Iceland
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 30 days.
India
1949
 
Iran
1968
 
Iraq
1968
 
Ireland
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 12 months.
Israel
1968
 
Italy
None
If you hold a paper driving licence or a driving licence from Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man, you may need a 1968 IDP. Check with the Italian Embassy.
Jamaica
1949
 
Japan
1949
 
Jordan
1949
 
Kazakhstan
1968
 
Kenya
1968
IDP needed for stays longer than 90 days.
Kuwait
1968
 
Kyrgyzstan
1968
 
Laos
1949
 
Latvia
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here.
Lebanon
1949
 
Lesotho
1949
 
Liberia
1968
 
Libya
1949
 
Liechtenstein
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here.
Lithuania
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 6 months.
Luxembourg
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 6 months.
Macao (Macau)
1949
 
Madagascar
1949
 
Malawi
1949
IDP needed for stays longer than 90 days.
Malaysia (Sabah)
1949
 
Mali
1949
 
Malta
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 12 months. If you hold a paper driving licence or a driving licence from Guernsey or the Isle of Man, you may need a 1949 IDP. Check with the Malta High Commission.
Mexico
1926
 
Moldova
1968
 
Monaco
1968
 
Mongolia
1968
 
Montenegro
1968
 
Morocco
1968
 
Myanmar (previously Burma)
1968
 
Namibia
1949
IDP needed for car hire. If you have an older, paper UK driving licence, you must take another form of photographic ID, such as your passport. You may need to show an IDP to your insurance company if you’re involved in an accident.
Netherlands
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here.
New Zealand
1949
 
Niger
1968
 
Nigeria
1968
 
North Macedonia
1968
 
Norway
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 90 days. If you hold a paper driving licence you may need a 1968 IDP. Check with the Norwegian Embassy.
Pakistan
1968
 
Papua New Guinea
1949
IDP needed for stays longer than 30 days.
Paraguay
1949
 
Peru
1968
 
Philippines
1968
IDP needed for car hire, and for stays longer than 90 days.
Poland
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 6 months.
Portugal
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 6 months.
Qatar
1968
 
Romania
None
If you hold a paper driving licence or a driving licence from the Isle of Man, you may need a 1968 IDP. Check with the Romanian Embassy.
Russian Federation
1968
 
Rwanda
1949
 
San Marino
1968
 
Saudi Arabia
1968
IDP needed for car hire.
Senegal
1968
 
Serbia
1968
 
Seychelles
1968
 
Sierra Leone
1949
 
Singapore
1949
IDP needed for car hire, and for stays longer than 30 days.
Slovakia
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 6 months. For visits longer than 6 months you’ll need a 1968 IDP.
Slovenia
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 90 days.
Somalia
1926
 
South Africa
1968
If you have an older, paper UK driving licence, you must take another form of photographic ID, such as your passport. You may need to show an IDP to your insurance company if you’re involved in an accident.
South Korea
1949
 
Spain (including Balearic and Canary Isles)
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 6 months.
Sri Lanka
1949
As well as the IDP, you must get a Sri Lankan recognition permit from the Automobile Association of Ceylon (AAC) in Colombo.
St. Lucia
1949
Show your UK driving licence or IDP to the police to get a visitor’s licence.
St. Vincent
1949
Show your UK driving licence or IDP to the police to get a visitor’s licence.
Sweden
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here for periods up to 12 months.
Switzerland
None
You do not need an IDP to drive here.
Syria
1949
 
Tajikistan
1968
 
Taiwan
1949
IDP needed for stays longer than 30 days.
Thailand
1949
 
Togo
1949
 
Trinidad & Tobago
1949
IDP needed for stays longer than 90 days.
Tunisia
1968
 
Turkey
1968
 
Turkmenistan
1968
 
Uganda
1949
IDP needed for stays longer than 90 days.
Ukraine
1968
 
United Arab Emirates
1968
 
United States
1949
"If you have an older, paper UK driving licence, you must take another form of photographic ID, such as your passport. You may need to show an IDP to your insurance company if you’re involved in an accident."
Uruguay
1968
 
Uzbekistan
1968
 
Vatican City
1949
 
Venezuela
1949
 
Vietnam
1968
 
Zimbabwe
1968