Confused by how to get an International Driving Permit? Did you know that there are not one, but THREE types of International Driver Permits (IDP)? And different countries worldwide will only accept specific ones!
For example, in Europe, France and Spain require totally different driver permit documents in order to drive there. It’s enough to make your head hurt!
Luckily, they’re not difficult and it doesn’t take long to get an IDP. This post will help break it down for you.
Do I need an International Driving Permit?
Well, that depends on where you’re travelling to and if you want to drive there!
International Driving Permits (IDP) are not new things and they are necessary to drive in pretty much any country in the world.
As a general rule, assume that if you’re planning to drive in anywhere outside of your home country, you’ll need an International Driver Permit- it’s one of the many requirements to drive in a foreign country.
However, UK citizens do NOT currently need an IDP to drive in Europe. If you want to stay up to date on the new laws, click here to find out about driving in Europe after BREXIT.
How long does it take to get an International Driving Licence?
If you already have the photo, it does not take long to get an IDP. The easiest place to get them is at the Post Office in UK, (if you’re British) or wherever provides paperwork for legal documents/ passports etc in your home country.
If you have appropriate photos, the right documents and a helpful clerk, you really can be in and out in a few minutes, WITH your driver permits. It really is pretty straightforward.
Can I get an International Driving Permit online?
You can, but honestly, you don’t need to. It costs more, takes longer and you run the risk of something going wrong. Pop to your local Post Office and avoid any issues. If you can’t get to the Post Office, then online provides you with another option should you need it.
While we’re on the subject, there are companies who offer to ‘arrange your permit’ for you. PLEASE don’t use these- they charge a fortune for absolutely nothing. I promise, it’s not difficult to get an International Driver Permit.
How to get an International Driving Licence?
Surprisingly, this is one of the easiest bits of paperwork I’ve ever done. All you need to do is visit your local Post Office. if you have a UK driving licence. (See above if you’re not British!) Even the smaller Post Office branches have been given authority to issue IDPs, so there should be a branch quite close to you which has the ability to issue them.
What are the types of International Driving Permit?
There are THREE types of International Driving Permit, 1926, 1949 and 1968. Each type covers a different country around the world.
After 28th March 2019, you will need a:
- 1926 permit to drive in Liechtenstein
- 1949 permit to drive in Spain, Iceland, Malta and Cyprus
- 1968 permit to drive in all other EU countries, plus Norway and Switzerland
As you can see from the list below, there are many other countries covered by these driver permits. I’ve just focused on a few examples from Europe. We are planning a road trip in the United States in June- we’ll need our 1949 driving permit then!
UK drivers- How to get an International Driving Permit at the Post Office
Here are the simple steps to get an International Driving Permit at the Post Office:
- Bring your current (in date!) driving licence. You do NOT need the paper part, just the pink card.
- Bring one passport photo (needs to be to the same standards as a passport photo- no smiling, plain background, size etc) You will need one photo PER permit.
- KNOW WHICH COUNTRY you want to visit. This will help them issue you the correct IDP. Or just ask for all 3 IDPs.
- Hand over your driving licence and photo. They will copy down the details and stamp the correct parts
- CHECK THEY HAVE WRITTEN IT ALL CORRECTLY AND stamped the correct parts- especially for motorhomes!!
- Get your shiny new IDP! (Make sure to get your Driving licence back too- you still need to carry that!)
You must be over 18 and hold a current UK driving licence to get an IDP at the Post Office. You also need to be a UK resident.
How much does an International Driver Permit cost in UK?
The International Driving Permit costs £5.50 per permit. Yep, it’s surprisingly cheap for an official document!
How long is the International Driving Permit valid for?
Ok, brace yourself. This part is a bit crazy! How long does the International Driving Permit last? It depends on which permit you get!
- The 1968 International Driving Permit is valid for 3 years, but only as long as you have a current UK Driving licence.
- The 1949 IDP is only valid for one year.
Also, if you currently have an IDP, the country may change which one it requires after 28th March 2019. For example, Albania currently requires a 1949 IDP licence, but will require a 1968 IDP. The full list can be found HERE.
International Driving Permit Europe for UK drivers
This section mainly focuses on the problems facing UK drivers in Europe after Brexit, such as what they need. If you are not planning to drive in Europe, feel free to skip this section! You might enjoy the following posts:
- Travel Documents Checklist- ESSENTIAL paperwork you need to carry
- The BEST apps for road trip planning
(For obvious reasons, the information in this post may change at a moments notice due to the current Political climate. I do my very best to update the information as quickly as I can after the Government have updated us. You will ALWAYS find the most up-to-date information at gov.uk)
Is UK Driving Licence valid in Europe after BREXIT?
If there is no deal, you will not be allowed to drive in Europe without an IDP. If you are a resident in Europe outside the UK, you MUST exchange your UK driving licence for one in the country you are resident in, BEFORE BREXIT- or you will need to pass a driving test in that country.
Will I need an International Driving Permit to drive in Europe AFTER BREXIT?
The UK Government is still working on securing a deal. Part of the proposed deal is that UK citizens will still be able to drive in Europe using only their UK licence, completely removing the need for an IDP in Europe. BUT, until a deal is signed, there is a chance that we will need an IDP. The current advice is to get one if you are planning to drive in Europe soon after BREXIT.
You will still need an IDP for other countries around the world- whether a deal is signed in Europe or not!
Will I need an International Driving Permit for Ireland?
No. Ireland has already stated that it will accept current UK driving licences without the need for an IDP.
Do I need a Green Card to drive in Europe?
A Green Card is evidence of motor insurance cover when driving abroad.
Currently, you do not need a motor insurance Green Card to drive a UK registered vehicle in most of Europe.
After BREXIT, if there is no deal, drivers of UK registered vehicles will need to carry a motor insurance Green Card when driving in the EU and EEA. It is not clear what the rules will be for vehicles ALREADY in Europe.
Some countries also require separate insurance for trailers. This means that you may also need a separate Green Card for your trailer.
Contact your vehicle insurance provider to obtain a motor insurance Green Card. I have asked my insurer 3 times, and each time they have asked me to call back in a couple of weeks. I think everyone is hoping for a deal!
I hope that has answered some of your questions about getting an IDP in UK, for Europe and Worldwide. Wherever you go, safe travels!
Kat never planned to buy a motorhome. She also never planned to quit her job as an air traffic controller, go touring around Europe in said motorhome, start one of the UK’s largest motorhome travel websites… or get a cocker spaniel.
Find out how she went from stuck in the rat race to being a digital nomad and inspiring thousands of people to have their own epic adventures here.
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11 thoughts on “How to get an International Driving Permit (and do you even need one?!)”
Great information, everything is so confusing at the moment. We are hanging on to book our next trip abroad until April to see if there is any clarity, particularly with the pet situation. Although I think agreement on anything is looking more unlikely as time passes!!
I know- we are changing our plans because of the pet situation too. It’s so frustrating.
Thanks, that was very clear and helpful for our future plans!
You’re welcome. I hope we never need them… but I sadly think that’s unlikely.
How come nobody addresses the issue of getting an IDL when you are living outside of the UK??!?!?! Tearing my hair out trying to figure out how to do this, the Post Office is stuck in the dark ages.
If you’re living outside the UK, don’t you need to swap your UK licence for one for the country you’re living in? Then you’ll have to apply by whatever rules that country has for driving abroad.
Going to Belize and hiring a carf, but Belize doesn’t feature on these lists – or the list which the Post Office has!
I can’t find what type I need for Belize anywhere – does that mean I don’t need one?
I am currently travelling so have no access to a post office. How would I get a IDP online?
Tough one. I’m not entirely sure if you can as they need to verify your face when they issue them. The only thing I could suggest is email the Post Office and see what they say.
Thank you for the information
I just want to know, do they give the idp at the same time or I have to wait?
They give them out there and then. Takes about 15 minutes.