Driving in Europe after Brexit: what do I need to know?

If you’re planning on driving in Europe this summer, here’s what you’ll need to do if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 12 April...

Range Rover in Europe

Tens of thousands of Brits go on holiday in Europe each year, but if the UK leaves the European Union (EU) on 12 April without a deal, the rules regarding driving there will change. 

In addition to your UK driving licence, you will need to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) in order to drive your own car or a hire car in other countries. 

The UK Government will set up arrangements for its citizens to drive in Europe post-Brexit, but until these are in place, you will need an IDP. 

Driving in Europe

Which IDP do I need? 

There are three different IDPs, although only two are used in most EU states and European Economic Area (EEA) countries. 

If you’re travelling to Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia or Sweden, you will need a 1968 IDP, which is valid for three years or as long as your UK licence if that expires earlier. 

If you are travelling to Cyprus, Malta or Spain, you will need a 1949 IDP, which is valid for 12 months. 

There's also a 1926 IDP, which will only be required if you want to drive in Liechtenstein.

If you’re visiting the Republic of Ireland, you won’t need an IDP, because it doesn’t require non-EU drivers to have one. 

It’s important to note that if you’re driving through France to Spain, you will need to get a 1968 IDP to drive in France and a 1949 IDP to drive in Spain. 

Driving in Europe

Where can I get an IDP and how much will it cost? 

You can get an IDP only over the counter from any of 2500 Post Offices around the UK. Each costs £5.50, so if you need to get both most commonly required permits, you’ll have to pay £11. 

In order to get each IDP, you need to present the cashier with your UK driving licence photocard and a passport-spec photograph of yourself. If you want to present your old paper driving licence instead of your photocard, you will also need a valid UK passport as proof of identity.

Driving in Europe

What if I live elsewhere in the EU? 

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 12 April, UK nationals living in the EU won’t be able to use an IDP alongside their UK driving licence in order to drive. They will therefore need to exchange their UK licence for a local licence before that date. 

They might also have to re-take their driving test in their country of residence in order to continue driving. 

Read our guide to driving in Europe to find out what else you need to know

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