Driving in Europe after Brexit: everything you need to know

UK drivers may be required to carry an International Driving Permit (IDP) after if the UK leaves the EU without an exit deal, according to the Department for Transport. In addition, the types of IDP recognised by some countries may change.

The changes to international driving rules will provide an extra complication for professional drivers, such as motoring journalists, who need to drive outside the UK as part of their job.

Currently UK licence holders can drive in any of the European Economic Area (EEA) countries – comprising 28 EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – using only their UK licence.

Outside the EEA, UK licence holders can drive in many countries if they carry the correct IDP alongside their licence. For most countries this is a 1949 IDP, but some countries require a 1926 IDP.

If the UK leaves the EU without an exit deal IDPs may be required to drive in EU and EEA countries – a 1949 IDP for Cyprus, Iceland, Malta and Spain and a 1968 IDP for other EEA countries, except Ireland which will continue to recognise UK licences.

Countries outside the EEA may require different IDPs after 29 March – only a handful of countries will continue to accept the 1926 IDP and many will require the 1968 IDP. To check which type of permit you need see the list on this page from the DfT.

How to get an IDP

You will need to apply at a main Post Office (you can find Post Offices which issue IDPs using this tool on the Post Office website).

You must be a resident of Great Britain or Northern Ireland, you must be over 18 and you will need:

  • Your full UK driving licence – photocard or paper licence
  • Your UK passport as proof of identification
  • A passport sized photo for each IDP you wish to apply for

Each IDP application will cost £5.50. Note that you may need more than one IDP – for example if you are driving from France (1968 IDP) to Spain (1949 IDP).

The 1949 IDP lasts for a year, the 1968 IDP for three years. Some countries have their own extra rules, such as requiring holders of older paper licences to also carry photo ID.