UK licence holders who live in the UK can drive in all EU and EEA countries using their UK driving licence. This will change if we have a so called “Hard Brexit” that is; leave without a deal that includes things such as driving licence requirements. The way things are going it's highly likely we will need an IDP.
What is an IDP?
While we don’t currently need one for the EU and EEA countries, we do for many others. As a Brit abroad an IDP lets you drive in over 140 countries around the world.
The IDP is a hangover from when licences were wordy and paper based. Essentially, the IDP translates your licence details into several languages. Should you be stopped when abroad, a foreign official can easily check your entitlement to drive the vehicle you are in. The permit is used as a complement to your UK driving licence rather than a replacement–so make sure you have both with you when you drive abroad.
So Do I need One?
If you are taking your motorhome out of the country after 29th March 2019 then you are likely to need one. There are three different permits - the one you’ll need will depend on the country you’re driving in. Depending upon where you are travelling you may need more than one!
If like many couples you share the driving. Or your contingency plans in the event of illness etc means the partner who rarely drives might have to, then it makes sense for both to get a permit.
Which One Do I need?
A 1949 Convention IDP covers Ireland, Iceland, Spain, Malta and Cyprus.
A 1968 Convention IDP covers you in all other EU countries, including Norway and Switzerland
A 1926 Convention IDP Liechtenstein
You can check which ones you need on the Government Website
Note that if you're heading over to Ireland you don’t need one. While they signed up to the convention, they don’t require an IDP and your regular licence will suffice.
How Do I Get One?
Until quite recently you could obtain an IDP from the big automobile clubs but as of 1 Feb 2019 they are only available from main post offices. Check here to find the nearest post office to you that issues IDP's
How Long Does it Take to Get One?
Getting an IDP at Post Office counter takes less than ten minutes. But don’t leave it to the last minute trying to get the best value for money. You can post date your permit to start on any date up to three months in advance.
What do I need? How Much Will it Cost?
A single IDP will cost £5.50 Two will cost £11 etc. You'll need a passport sized photo.
Driving to Spain Via France?
The majority of motorhomers heading to Spain will do so via France. If you're one of them then you’ll need to purchase both the 1949 and the 1968 versions of IDPs
What if I'm Already Living in Spain, Portugal, France, etc.
You'll need to swap your UK licence for a Local one before the 29th March. Don’t dither because if the UK leaves without a deal, you likely can not drive without taking a local test to get a valid licence.
When you come back to the UK, you’ll be able to use your EU licence legally here. And if you return for good, you should be able to swap your foreign licence for a UK one without taking another test here.
There are some suggestions that, because it is only a translation of your entitlement and our modern licences are utterly familiar to European Police offers, They will not need a translation and will never ask to see one!
That maybe be true in a few instances, but for a trip to the post office and a couple of quid it’s not worth the risk to go without. And besides, another form of photo ID on our travels can come in handy and might save us handing over passports to some sites that still insist on some ID being deposited.
The guy who caused all this trouble in the first place got his early!