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What is an International Driving Permit (IDP)?

Find out whether you need an international driving permit (IDP) if you have a UK licence when driving abroad to make sure you’re on the right side of the law.

Nimisha Jain

Words by: Nimisha Jain

Published on 1 September 2022 | 0 min read

If you’re planning on driving abroad, there are a few things to keep in mind like the driving licence required and the local driving laws of the country.
If this is your first time driving outside the EU, you may have never heard of an international driving permit (IDP) - a document required to drive in countries other than the UK. So, how does IDP work? Here’s everything you need to find out if you actually need an IDP to drive abroad.

What is an IDP?

If you have a UK driving licence, you may not be able to drive abroad in some countries like Australia and Canada. An international driving permit (IDP) allows you to drive in foreign countries where a UK licence itself isn’t sufficient to drive.
You need an IDP in more than 140 countries to drive on their local roads, so make sure you’ve checked whether you require an international driving permit or not before you venture out for your holiday. Getting an IDP is a quick and straightforward process - it usually only takes a few minutes to get an international driving permit once you turn up at the Post Office.

Do I need an international driving permit?

Whether or not you need an international driving permit, depends upon the country (or countries) you’re planning on visiting and how long you’re staying there.
There are three types of IDP: 1. 1968 – this is the most common IDP and is valid for three years (or until your driving licence expires, whichever comes first) 2. 1949 – this IDP is valid for one year 3. 1926 – this IDP is only required if you visit Brazil, Iraq, Mexico or Somalia The type of IDP required to drive abroad will depend upon the country you visit. For example, you need an International Driving Permit 1949 to drive in the USA, whereas you need an International Driving Permit 1968 to drive in Turkey. You may also require more than one type of IDP if you’re travelling to more than one country, so make sure you’ve properly checked the type of IDP required for the different countries you’re planning on visiting. If you have a paper driving licence instead of a photocard licence or if your licence was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man, you may need an IDP to drive in some of the European countries – check with the embassy of the country you’re going to be visiting. You can easily find out whether or not you need an IDP and the type of IDP required using this checker.

How to get an international driving permit?

To get an international driving permit, first, make sure you’ve gathered all the required documents. You’ll need a valid, full GB or Northern Ireland driving licence and a passport photo. If you don’t have a photocard driving licence, you’ll need to bring your valid passport as proof of identification.
You’ll also need your debit or a credit card to pay the £5.50 application fee. Once your documents are ready, you’ll have to visit your local Post Office to apply for an IDP. Once you’ve received your IDP, it’s usually valid for one to three years, depending upon the type of IDP you’ve got. For example: to drive in Thailand, you need an International Driving Permit 1949 which will be valid for one year. In the UK, you can only apply for an international driving permit in-person at the Post Office. You can’t apply for an IDP online.

More tips on driving abroad with an international driving permit (IDP):

• You need your full UK driving licence to apply for an IDP and to drive abroad. In case you’ve lost or damaged your valid driving licence, apply and get a new one beforehand.
• If you’re planning on driving your own car abroad, make sure you’re carrying your log book (V5C) and your insurance documents. • If you’ve hired or leased a car in the UK to drive abroad, you’ll need a VE103 certificate. • If you’re hiring a car abroad and the company requires your driving licence information, you can share this information by getting a licence ‘check code’ within 21 days of travelling. You can find the full list of countries that require an IDP on (external website). Preparing for your trip? Here's everything you need to know about driving abroad, insurance, laws and licence required Related articles: Driving in Spain Driving in Italy Driving in France