Whether you’re travelling or moving overseas, you’ll appreciate the ability to get out and explore behind the wheel of a car. Driving offers a sense of independence that can add excitement to any journey, especially when you’re exploring a new country. However, as different cultures have unique social customs, they also have separate rules and requirements for drivers. If you’re wondering how to drive in a foreign country, the first thing you’ll want to learn about is the international driving licence.
An international driving licence is an official document that allows you to drive abroad. Obtaining the international driving permit, or IDP, is the best way to ensure you’re road-ready no matter where you’re travelling. Whether you’re shipping your car abroad or renting when you arrive, you’ll benefit from knowing the ins and outs of this document.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about the IDP, from prices and requirements to how to get yours before your next big adventure.
What is an International Driving Permit?
An international driving permit is an official document that you’ll use along with your UK driving licence when travelling abroad. Your IDP is a multi-translation of your UK driving licence that is recognised worldwide. The document ensures your driving licence is understood by local officials overseas, and that you are legally permitted to operate a motor vehicle in your host country.
Do I Need an International Driving Permit?
You will need an IDP to operate a motor vehicle legally in most countries outside of Europe. Currently, you do not need an IDP if you are driving in Europe, but this is subject to change post-Brexit. Check the UK government’s website for driving abroad, as well as their page for visiting Europe after January 1, 2021, for the latest information on how road requirements will change after Brexit.
If you do need an international driving permit, there is a simple application process through your local post office. Head to their website for useful information and tools for obtaining your IDP.
Remember, you will always need to carry your UK driving licence along with your IDP. This document is supplementary and is not valid on its own.
How Much Does an International Driving Permit Cost?
The IDP costs £5.50, which you can pay in the form of cash, debit or credit card payment when applying at your local post office.
Which Countries Accept an International Driving Permit?
Most countries recognise the international driving permit. However, some will require a document called a 1949 Convention IDP, or a 1926 Convention IDP. Some countries also require another form of identification like a passport along with the IDP. You will always need to keep your IDP with your valid UK driving licence.
You can see an IDP country list on the UK government’s website here.
How to Apply for an International Driving Licence
To apply for the international driving permit, you need to be over 18 years of age. You have to apply for the document in person with the following materials in-hand:
- Your full, valid UK driving licence, either as a photocard or an older paper licence
- A recent, passport-standard photograph
- The application fee of £5.50 in the form of cash, debit or credit card payment
- Your original valid passport if you are presenting an older paper version of your licence
The UK post office website has a convenient branch finder feature to help you find the closest location to you.
When Do I Need to Apply For My IDP?
You can apply for an IDP up to three months before you expect to drive in another country. The international driving permit will last for one to three years, depending on the type of document required and the country you are visiting. For example, the 1968 IDP lasts three years or until the expiry of your UK driving licence.
As long as your IDP is valid, you can use it to drive in as many countries as you wish, as long as you follow the country’s specific driving requirements. Make sure to stay informed as each country has different rules. For instance, Japan only allows drivers to use an IDP for one year, even if it is valid longer.
If your IDP expires soon, make sure to reapply at your local post office before the document’s expiration date.
Do I Still Need to Keep My UK Driving Licence?
Yes, you will always need to keep your UK driving licence with your IDP when driving in a foreign country. The international driving permit needs the support of your home country’s driving licence to confirm its validity.
Rules of the Road
You should always follow the driving rules and regulations of the country where you are travelling. Carrying an IDP does not mean that you should abide by UK laws when driving abroad. Check your host country’s government website to find the rules to follow when driving there.
An IDP document is officially recognised and sanctioned by the United Nations. It can be used as an additional form of identification in over 150 countries.
For this reason, the international driving permit makes a great form of supplementary identification. When overseas officials require your details, this document facilitates understanding in their own language. The IDP is also handy if you lose or are required to surrender your passport.
Planning to Become a Resident Overseas?
If you wish to obtain permanent residency in a new country, you will want to apply for the official driving licence of that country as soon as possible. Make sure to do this before your IDP expires.
We hope this guide will help when you apply for international driving licence papers. At Autoshippers UK, we have extensive experience and expertise with shipping vehicles from the UK and helping customers prepare for life on the road. We have 20 years of experience getting customers behind the wheel in their new country, and we’re happy to help you on your adventures, too.
Whether you need information for getting your international driving licence or shipping your vehicle overseas, the Autoshippers experts are here to help. You can find out about costs, rules and regulations, and our car shipping services on our site. Visit us today and get your free quote here.