An international driving permit (IDP) is a multi-language translation of your driving licence. You need one to drive in many countries throughout the world, including a number of US states. But like many other road laws, IDP requirements depend on the country you plan to drive in.
Most people don't need an IDP to drive in European Union (EU) countries (plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) even now the UK has left the EU.
If the permit is compulsory in the country you're planning to drive in, make sure you also carry your licence along with your IDP – the permit will not be valid without it.
The IDP should not be confused with an international driving licence – a document that can be bought online but is not an official certificate and won’t be accepted globally.
Despite the UK leaving the EU in 2020, very little has changed regarding driving in Europe with a UK licence. You can still drive in all EU and EEA (European Economic Area) countries using just your UK driving licence.
You don't usually need an international driving permit (although there are some exceptions, which we explain below). However, if you're driving your own car, you will need some additional documents. Keep reading to find out the driving requirements for different countries.
Not sure if the country you're driving in is part of the EU or EEA? See our summary below to check:
Switzerland is not part of the EU or EEA; however, Swiss law dictates that you won't need an IDP as long as you hold a valid licence in French, German, Italian or English.
Yes. You can drive in all EU and EEA (European Economic Area) countries using just your UK driving licence.
If you're driving your own car, you will also need all of the following:
Use the table below to find out the IDP requirements for different countries.
|Brazil||Requires an IDP|
|Albania||Requires an IDP|
|Iraq||Requires an IDP|
|Somalia||Requires an IDP|
|Algeria||Requires an IDP|
|Argentina||Requires an IDP|
|Armenia||Requires an IDP|
Please note: some countries have their own terms and conditions in relation to IDPs, so it’s important you research your destination prior to travelling. In many countries outside of the EU, holding a translated version of your licence is strongly recommended to speed up processing should you be stopped by police.
If in doubt, check before you leave.
There are three types of international driving permit:
You can get your IDP over the counter on the same day, provided you have the correct supporting documents. You can also order one as early as three months prior and delay the start date of your permit; however, a permit cannot be backdated.
Currently, you can only get a permit by visiting one of the 2,500 Post Office branches that offer the service. To find your nearest, use the , selecting 'International Driving Permits' in the 'Branch services' section.
To complete the order you have to be over 18 years old and have the following with you:
An international driving permit is valid for one to three years from the date it’s issued, depending on the type required. If you need a permit after that time, you will need to apply for another permit.
If you're driving your own car outside of EU countries, check with your insurer to make sure your policy covers you. If it doesn’t, you can either upgrade your policy or, depending on your insurer, pay for a standalone, temporary car insurance policy.
Once you’re insured you may receive a green card (an internationally recognised confirmation of insurance – more on this in a moment) to take with you. If you don’t, you can request one.
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Yes, if you have a UK car insurance policy it will cover you in EU and EEA countries, plus Andorra, Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia and Switzerland, but this may only be on a third-party basis, even if you have comprehensive cover to drive in the UK. Ask your insurer if you want to boost your cover to drive in Europe.
There may also be a time limit on how long you can drive in EU countries under your UK insurance policy (per year and/or per trip), so check your policy documents.
A green card is effectively a translation in several languages of your car insurance certificate. It is an internationally recognised confirmation you’re covered to drive your own car outside the UK.
While not legally required (unless you're towing), it doesn't hurt to have a green card handy. If you don't have one, you will need some other form of proof that your car is insured.
You can ask your insurance company to provide it. If you're towing another vehicle (such as a caravan), you'll need an additional green card for this.
A green card is valid for 90 days. You must carry a physical copy – so print it out if your insurer emails it to you.
It depends on where you'll be driving and what is printed on your number plate.
If your number plate includes the UK identifier with the Union flag (also known as the Union Jack), you do not need a UK sticker to drive in most EU countries. But you will need to display a UK sticker clearly on the rear of your vehicle if your number plate has any of the following:
To drive in Spain, Malta or Cyprus, all UK-registered cars will need to display a UK sticker, regardless of what is on your number plate.
The white oval sticker shows the letters 'UK' in black.
It will need to be displayed at the back of vehicles registered in all parts of the UK, including Northern Ireland.
While many of the rules of the road will be very similar in other, particularly EU, countries (for example, don't drink and drive, and don't exceed the speed limit), some countries have specific rules to follow. Check before you go to avoid being caught out.
If you're driving your own car in a country where they drive on the right-hand side, many foreign driving laws ask that you make sure you have adjusted your headlight beams or attached headlight beam deflector stickers to avoid dazzling other motorists.
If your policy doesn’t cover you, you can ask for additional protection at a cost. Alternatively, you can search for separate cover solely for your time abroad.