International Driving Permit – What it is and How to Get One

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What is an International Driving Permit?

IDPAn International Driving Permit is essential if you’re planning to drive your car outside of the EU.

Although most countries in the EU will accept a UK driver’s license, this isn’t the always the case and you’ll need to check your intended destination’s requirements before you travel.

The International Driving Permit (IDP) acts as a bolt-on to your UK driver’s license and you’ll need to have both with you when driving abroad.

What You Need to Know About International Driving Permits

  • IDP is valid for twelve months from the date of issue
  • There are two kinds of IDP available – 1949 and 1926.  Which one you need depends on which countries you’re visiting.  Most countries recognise a 1949 Convention IDP, but you should check which one you need before applying
  • You can only get an IDP three months in advance of when you need it
  • IDPs cannot be backdated or issued retrospectively
  • The International Driving Permit must not be confused with the International Driver’s License; the International Driver’s License isn’t legally recognised and will not allow you to drive a car abroad.

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How to Apply for an International Driving Permit?

To be eligible for an IDP you are required to:

  • Have a full UK driver’s license appropriate to the type of vehicle you’re planning to drive.
  • Be a UK resident
  • Be over the age of 18

IDPs are available on application to the Post Office, the AA or the RAC.

There are three ways to apply for an IDP:

Via Post

You can download an application form from the AA or RAC website.

You’ll need to fill in the application form and send it to the specified postal address along with a photocopy of your photocard driver’s license and the paper counterpart, a photocopy of your passport and a recent passport sized photograph plus the fee and any admin costs detailed on the website.

Bear in mind that if you need both kinds of permit, you’ll need to enclose two passport photos and two sets of fees.

At a Post Office

Selected Post Office branches can issue an IDP.  You’ll need to take along both parts of your UK driving license, a recent passport photograph and some proof of identity, such as your passport.

Click here for a list of all the Post Offices in the UK that can issue IDPs.

In Person

You can apply in person at the AA Folkestone Eurotunnel Passenger Terminal.  You should take all the same documentation, photographs and identification as for the Post Office (see above).

You can find more information about applying for an IDP at AA Folkestone here.

General Advice About Driving Abroad

car tax discOnce you’ve received your IDP, you’re all set to drive abroad.  You should ensure that your UK driver’s license and IDP are to hand at all times just in case you’re asked to produce it.

If you’re planning to drive outside of the EU, you may need to have a GB sticker on your car (even if you have “europlates”).

It’s highly recommended that you research driving customs and regulations in the country you’re planning to visit.

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