How to get an international driving licence in the UK

Zorica Lončar
21.01.22
2 minute read

Planning an overseas trip? If you’re taking your own car on a ferry or are thinking of hiring one, you’ll need to check if you need an international driving licence.

In this guide, we’ll cover which countries require an international driving permit (IDP) and walk you through the process of getting one. The good news is that it should be relatively straightforward to apply for an IDP.

We’ll even throw in another quick tip to help you on your travels - the Wise multi-currency account and international debit card.

But more on that later. Let’s get your international driving licence sorted first.

Who needs an international driving permit?

You’ll need an international driving permit (IDP) to legally drive in over 140 countries worldwide¹. This includes the US, India, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. In these countries, your UK driving licence on its own will not be sufficient.

You don’t need an IDP to drive in most EU countries, provided you’re only a temporary visitor on a short stay. However, if you only have a paper GB driving licence, you may still need an IDP. Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein also don’t require an IDP².

There’s an easy way to find out whether or not you’ll need an international driving licence. Simply use the IDP Checker tool on the Post Office website - enter your country and it will tell you the requirements for driving there.

How to get an international driving licence in the UK

You can get an IDP in the UK before your trip by visiting a branch of the Post Office. There’s a fee of £5.50³ to apply, and you can get your IDP over the counter. You can find your nearest participating branch here.

You can apply for your permit 3 months before you travel. And once you have it, you’ll need to make sure you take both the IDP and your GB or Northern Ireland driving licence with you on your trip¹.

What do you need to apply for an IDP?

Before you visit the Post Office to apply for your international driving licence, make sure you have the following documents ready¹:

  • Your full valid GB or Northern Ireland Driving Licence - photocard or an older paper licence
  • Your valid passport as proof of photo ID (if you only have an older paper licence)
  • A passport-sized photograph of yourself

You must be over 18 years old to apply for an IDP³.

How long does an IDP last?

Once you receive your international driving permit, you can use it for between 1-3 years depending on the type of IDP needed for the country you’ll be driving in¹.

Get travel spending sorted with Wise

With the necessary paperwork out the way, it’s time to start planning your trip. For a convenient, money-saving way to cover everything from car hire to fuel costs, check out Wise.

With a Wise multi-currency account, you can hold 50+ currencies at once and send money all over the world for low fees. But even better for travellers, you can also get a Wise debit card for use in 200 countries.

This clever contactless card automatically converts currency at the fairest exchange rate every time you spend, with no foreign transaction charges. There’s only a tiny fee to convert the currency, or it’s free if you already have the currency in your account.

Join Wise today


And that’s pretty much it - all the essentials you need to know to get an international driving licence in the UK.

As long as you have the right documents and do your homework on the driving requirements in your destination country, you should find it all pretty straightforward. Enjoy your trip!


Sources used for this article:

  1. Post Office - international driving permit
  2. Gov.uk - driving abroad
  3. Gov.uk - IDP

Sources checked on 20-Jan-2022.


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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