Applying for an international driving permit

I live in France and drive here on a British licence. How can I obtain an Interna­tional Driving Permit so I can drive on a holiday out of the EU. T.G.

25 April 2018
By Oliver Rowland

International Driving Permit (IDPs) are documents (lasting a year in the UK version) that you obtain to accompany your driving licence and thus meet requirements in certain non-EU countries – however obtaining one in your situation appears difficult.

Luckily, relatively few countries insist on the permit for a holder of a UK licence. A list issued by the RAC of places where it is essential or recommended can be found here

For example, one is not needed in America, where a UK licence on its own is acceptable for trips of up to three months. Places where one is vital, according to the RAC, include Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Bahrain, Brazil, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, India, Indo­nesia, Iraq and Iran, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, UAE and the Canberra area of Australia.

It appears there is a Catch 22, however, as the DVLA said British IDPs cannot be issued to people who are not UK resident. This was confirmed to Connexion by the AA and RAC, the main UK bodies that issue IDPs.

One reader said he obtains his permit from a post office on visits to the UK, however he has retained a UK address.

France will not issue a French IDP to a holder of a UK licence, despite issuing them to holders of most other EU licences. The licences section at the prefecture of Loire-Atlantique at Nantes, which provides this service, said this is because the UK did not sign the November 8, 1968 Convention of Vienna. It said holders of British licences would have to exchange them for a French one before applying for an IDP. If, on the other hand, you have a French or other valid EU licence and want a French IDP (which last three years), note that you can now only apply by post to Nantes and not at local prefectures and it is likely to take longer - so leave plenty of time if going somewhere where a permit is required.

The ‘Inter­natio­nal Dri­ver’s Document’ and ‘International Driver’s Licence’ available on the internet have no official status and are not IDPs.

If you are going to one of the countries in the RAC’s list and plan to take your car or to hire one, we suggest seeking advice from one of its consulates.

Note that people driving in France with a non-EU licence must have an IDP or a translation of their licence that has been ‘legalised’ in their home country or by a sworn translator in France.

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