It's simply a document in an internationally agreed format that demonstrates your competence to drive. It is not a replacement for your driving licence, you should carry both with you when an IDP is necessary.
Holders of UK issued photo driving licences won't normally need an IDP for driving in the European Union (but see our Brexit section below). Anywhere else in the world may require them. The AA have a list of which countries require which type of IDP.
You may also need an IDP even when the rules of the country do not require them. Florida recently passed and then rescinded a law requiring all non-US drivers to provide an IDP - but it was in place long enough for Car Rental companies to update their terms of rental to require one. So, even though the law has been withdrawn, some rental companies still insist on an IDP.
There are two types of IDP according to which treaty the country signed up to - the IDP 1949 is the most common. Some countries require the IDP 1968.
You can apply for an IDP by in branch at selected Post Office branches. From February 2018 the AA and RAC were no longer permitted to issue IDPs.
The IDP costs £5.50 plus postage/handling fees. You will need your full driving licence, valid passport and a passport photo.
In the situation that the UK leaves the EU in a ‘no deal’ scenario then the Government has said that the recognition of driving licences between the UK and EU may end.
This means that drivers with a UK licence wishing to visit Europe after 31 October 2019 could need to get an International Driving Permit (IDP)
International Driving Permit (1949 Convention) would be required for the Republic of Ireland, Spain, Malta, Cyprus,
International Driving Permit (1968 Convention) would be needed in all other EU countries, Norway and Switzerland.
It would be required by both those driving to the Continent, and those intending to hire a car.
This content was last reviewed on 06/10/2021