International Driving Permits (IDP) and Driving Licences
The International Driving Permit/International Driving Licence/IDP is a grey booklet, a bit like a passport, which allows you to drive in a foreign country with your own national photo licence. (If you don’t have a photo ID licence I’d advise getting one- you may have problems renting a car with only a paper licence).
The document is about the same size as a standard passport and is essentially a multiple language (usually English, French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, German, Arabic, Italian). translation of the permit-holder’s normal driver’s license, and includes a photograph and stamp from the issuing office. It is not a license to operate a motor vehicle on its own.
There has been much speculation in the UK press that British drivers will need an IDP to drive in Europe from 1 Jan 2021. As at the time of writing (March 2020) the situation is still unclear. It may be that an IDP and insurance green card is needed for some countries, but its equally as likely that a reciprocal agreement with EU Nations mean one isn’t required. The UK Foreign office have set up an email alert system to receive the most up to date infiormation-
The IDP is available from a variety of sources –
In the UK, from the AA, RAC and larger post offices.
In the USA, from the American Automobile Association and the American Automobile Touring Alliance’s National Automobile Club
In Canada,from the Canadian Automobile Association.
In Australia from the Automobile Association of your home state
In most other countries, the IDP is available from the national Automobile association or Automobile or touring club
The IDP Costs $5.50 in UK, $15 in USA. In Europe the cost is usually around 10 Euros.
The IDP is usually valid for one year and can only be applied for up to 3 months before your date of travel.
There are two types of IDP, one relating to the terms of the 1949 Geneva convention on traffic and one relating to the 1926 convention. There are also numerous other rules by country which are varied, often complex and also, in my experience, not enforced! If driving in an unfamiliar country , my advice is to check with the rental company on whether you’ll need an IDP. Rules per country are as follows, those with no letter in brackets should allow driving on most photo ID licences for up to 12 months with no IDP. The key to the letters is at the foot of the section.
Countries recognising 1926 Convention IDP
Brazil (E, P)
Countries recognising 1949 Convention IDP
Bahrain (A, M)
Botswana (A, E)
Brunei (A, E)
Burkina Faso (E)
Cape Verde (E)
Cayman Islands (C)
Central African Republic
Congo (Democratic Republic of)
Congo (Republic of)
Cook Islands (G)
Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
Curaçao (Netherlands Antilles)
Czech Republic (D)
French Guiana (E)
Guinea Bissau (C)
Guinea Republic (E) Guyana (E)
Hong Kong (E)
Israel (A, E)
Kenya (E, I)
Lebanon (A, M)
Myanmar (Burma) (K)
Peru (E, Q)
Philippines (A, E)
Qatar (A, C)
San Marino (F)
Sao Tome and Principe
Saudi Arabia (A, B, E)
South Africa (D, J)
Spain (including Balearic and Canary Isles) (F)
Sri Lanka (N)
St. Kitts & Nevis (G)
St. Lucia (G)
St. Vincent (G)
Tanzania (A, C)
Trinidad & Tobago (I)
Turkey (I, L)
United Arab Emirates
A – IDP Required for car hire.
B – Women not permitted to drive.
C – IDP recommended. Temporary local licence may be obtained on production of your home country licence, but this may be time consuming and more expensive.
D – Driving licences that do not incorporate a photograph must be accompanied by an IDP.
E – IDP recommended.
F – Most Photo ID driving licences should be accepted . Acceptance of driving licences that are not of the European Communities model cannot be guaranteed
G – National licence or IDP should be presented to the police who will issue a visitors licence.
H – IDP valid for 15 days – local licence must then be obtained.
I – Most countries photo ID licences valid for 90 days.
J – IDP recommended as, in the event of an accident, some insurance companies will insist on seeing one. Non Photo ID licences will need an IDP
K – IDP must be exchanged for a local driving licence. A small charge will be made.
L – An IDP is compulsory for holders of driving licenses not incorporating a photograph and also recommended for photocard licence holders.
M – IDP compulsory and must be certified by the local authorities on arrival.
N – IDP must be accompanied by a recognition permit available for a small fee from the AA of Ceylon in Colombo.In my experience your car hire company can usually arrange this for a fee before you arrive
P – Officially a certified translation is required from the Consulate.
Q – For stays longer than 30 days.
The main benefit of the IDP is to overcome language difficulties, particularly if your home country licence is written in a different alphabet to the country you’re visiting. Many of the ‘official’ rules above seem to be ignored in many countries. If you’re using a local car rental company, my suggestion would be to ask them whether you really need an IDP. If you use one of the big multinationals or a brokers site, unless you manage to get the email address of the actual supplier, its unlikely you’ll be able to find this out. In my experience, given the low cost of an IDP its generally wise to obtain one before you travel if you don’t speak the language or if you’re visiting a country where you’re likely to be stopped often by the police/army (Eastern Europe/Africa/Asia).