Are you going on holiday abroad? If you would like to make the most of your stay and visit as many places as possible, driving could be the best option for you. Whether you are taking your own car or hiring one at your chosen destination, you’ll need to take a valid UK driving licence and a valid insurance policy with you.
However, in some countries like the USA, Turkey, Brazil or Japan, an additional permit may be requested to allow you to drive temporarily while on holiday or for a short stay. This is known as an International Driving Licence (IDP) and it's a permit that has no value on its own. It will only be valid as long as it’s accompanied by your UK driving licence. Do you need an IDP? Find out how to apply for it here.
As a rule, if you are travelling to a country where your UK driving license is not enough, you will need to apply for an International Drivers License. You won’t need an IDP to drive in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein if you have a photocard driving licence issued in the UK. However, you may need to request one if you have a paper driving licence which has been issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey, or the Isle of Man. You can use this IDP checker tool to confirm whether you need to apply for an IDP or meet any other requirements.
If you’ve moved abroad, you mustn’t apply for an IDP. Instead, you must either exchange your UK licence or apply for a new one in the country you’re moving to. Check with the local the driving licence authorities there whether you can exchange your UK licence without taking another driving test or how to apply for a new one.
Regulations have changed since Brexit came into force. If you moved to an EU country, you’ll need to check what rules apply now. You may still be able to exchange your UK driving licence for a local one, unless you have lost your UK licence, it got stolen, or it expired. You can check the rules for exchanging your licence in the EU here.
There are 3 types of International Driving Licenses: the 1926 (valid for a year); the 1949 (also valid for a year); and the 1968 (valid for 3 years or until your UK driving license expires, whichever happens first). The type of IDP you will need depends on your chosen destination and the length of your stay. If you are travelling through more than one country, you might need more than one type of IDP. You can check which type of IDP you need and under what conditions on the official gov.uk webpage.
In the UK, you can only get your IDP in person at any local Post Office up to 3 months before you travel. To apply you must:
At the moment, it is not possible to request your International Driving Permit online, it is worth noting that the permit is issued on the spot and someone can do it on your behalf by proving the supporting documents mentioned above.
You will have to pay a £5.50 fee, which you can do in cash, debit, or credit card.
The answer is yes. If you want to take your own car with you, you will need to take your logbook (V5C) and your insurance certificate. You may also need to carry a green card as proof that you have vehicle insurance to drive abroad. Some of the countries that may request one are:
You can hire a vehicle once you arrive to your destination. When you hire a car, insurance is included. But you need to check what you are covered for with the company you’ve chosen for your own peace of mind.
Your hire company will ask you to provide them with your driving licence details. You can share this by getting a licence‘ check code’. This will enable you to prove what kind of vehicles you are allowed to drive and share your penalty points or disqualifications. You can request yours up to 21 days before your trip.
Driving rules may vary from country to country. Make sure you get familiar with local speed limits, extra equipment requirements, drink driving laws, emission stickers (you may need to buy these weeks before you visit some European countries), and so on. It’s your responsibility to check this. Avoid getting fined for being unaware of the rules and unwillingly breaking the law.