International driving licence & permit
A great thing about having a UK driving licence is that it entitles you to drive in most European (EU) or European Economic Community (EEA) states. Though you can drive here at the age of 17, some states require that foreign visitors be a little older and have held their licence for a few years. If you want to drive in a non-european community or economic area, then you may need to have an International Driving Permit to allow you to drive legally in that country.
What is an International Driving Permit (IDP)?
An international driving permit is like having an international driving licence that is used in most foreign countries that are not part of the EU. It is simply translates your UK driving licence into several different languages so that foreign officials abroad can interpret the licence. Not all countries require you to have one but if you intend to drive abroad in a non EU state, then check ahead as you will need to apply for one in good time.
Where can I get and International Driving Licence?
To qualify for an IDP, you must be over 18, have passed the driving test and be a resident of Great Britain. There are a few places you can get an IDP from and these are listed below:
- Royal Automobile Club or RAC as they are most commonly known
- Automobile Association also known as The AA
- The Post office
- Green Flag Motoring Assistance Recovery Club
The standard fee for the IDP permit is currently £5.50 if you go to the Post Office or £8 by post; you must have your current driving licence and passport with you at all times. In most countries you could be fined or jailed for relying solely on an IDP without your UK driving licence. International driving licences are valid for one year and are not permitted for use in the UK; you can apply by post, in person at the post office or at AA Port Travel Shops.
Beware of scammers as there are many websites that also promise to get you an IDP for a small fee - some charge more than the actual price you would pay by going direct. Only use an approved place to buy your IDP to avoid over charging as some places will quote you three times the actual price.
Remember to check all your documents before you go and get international car insurance so that you are covered in case of an accident abroad. Your current insurer may still provide cover so it's worth checking your current insurance policy. Insurers abroad will charge you more and the excess is horrendous for visitors. Accidents as well as bad driving is also rife in many countries abroad so take precautions when driving outside the UK.