• Tue. Oct 19th, 2021

International driving license: do I need a special license to drive abroad after Brexit?

ByElla E. Kidwell

Jan 7, 2021

What is an international driving license?
Do you need a special license after Brexit?
► Explained: hHow to request an IDP

Britain has officially left the EU – and coming out of four decades of union has had many unanticipated side effects. But now that the divorce settlement has been concluded, it is clear that UK drivers habit need an international driving license to drive on the continent after Brexit.

But although the deal with the EU has been made, motorists will still need a special license to drive in other countries, including the United States and other popular hot spots. We list the license you need for which country further down on this page.

So, what is an International Driving Permit (IDP)? Do you really need it? Which countries need it? And how to apply for an international driving license? In this handy explainer, we take a look at all of these topical issues.

Follow our step-by-step guide and find out if you’ll need it and how you can best prepare for your 2021 vacation while driving abroad, knowing that you can always walk through the barriers of bureaucratic bureaucracy unhindered.

To find out more about Brexit

Do i need an international driving license after Brexit?

Fortunately not, if you are planning to visit mainland Europe. Your UK photo driving license will be accepted in all EU countries, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, but the UK government advises that holders of old paper licenses may still need to apply for a IDP.

If you drive further into countries outside of Europe, the rules remain unchanged. So if you are traveling to an exotic place like China, South Africa, the United States, or Japan, chances are you need an IDP already. Read on to find out how you can apply.

Also, don’t forget that now you’ll need a green card from your insurer to prove you’re covered – and a GB sticker on the back of your car.

Will Brexit make my next car more expensive?

International driver’s license: get one at your local post office

The good news is that it is very easy to apply for an international license. You certainly don’t need to take another test or wait weeks for someone to send you one. Most large post offices can take care of the paperwork for you while you wait – it shouldn’t take more than a quarter of an hour. Just take with you:

  • Your current UK driving license
  • One passport photo for each license you need
  • Payment methods for each license (prices below)
  • Official ID (like your passport)

It is worth calling ahead to see if your local post office can do the necessary paperwork. Many post offices, even quite large ones, are not approved – so you will need to do your research first. The Royal Mail claims that 2,500 of its outlets can complete the forms, but you cannot process the application online. This must be done in person at the counter.

You can only apply for an International Driving License in the UK if you are 18 years of age or over, live in the UK or Northern Ireland and hold a full UK driving license.

Types of international driving license for driving abroad

Ok, things are getting a bit tricky here. There are three different types of International Driving Permits currently offered in the UK, each named after the historic treaty when agreements were made by previous governments to allow motorists in each country to drive in foreign states.

Three types of international driving licenses: the 1926, 1949 and 1968 licenses

According to the latest government details, the following documents are required in the respective countries:

  • 1968 international driving license Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Cuba, French Polynesia, Guyana, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan , South Africa, Liberia, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Tajikistan, Tunisia , Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Zimbabwe
  • 1949 International driving license Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Congo, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Eswatini, Fiji, Ghana, Guam, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Macao, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Namibia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Saint Lucia, St Vincent, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, United States, Vatican City, Venezuela
  • 1926 International driving license Mexico, Somalia

The 1949 permit lasts 12 months; the 1968 license lasts for three years or until your regular UK driving license expires, whichever comes first. There is little difference between small, tissue-sized cardboard licenses – other than the date on the first page.

How much does each worldwide driver’s license cost?

Fortunately, IDP documents are quite cheap to request. Each permit costs £ 5.50 – so even if you ask for a belt and braces for all three licenses, it will only cost you £ 16.50.

You will see why when you have one; these are disappointingly low-tech documents – simple, low-tech documents that give the impression of going back to the 1968 date on the cover …

Will I need an International Driver’s License in the US and elsewhere in the world?

Driving in America requires an international driver’s license from 1949, authorities say. For a full list of countries requiring which driver’s licenses, see the official government site here.

Many members of the CAR magazine team have already applied for their international licenses, as we regularly drive abroad during new car launches. Be sure to ring the bell in the comments below to share your experiences of driving abroad with a displaced person.


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