International driving permits

Do you need an international driving permit to drive overseas? It depends where you’re headed and from whom you’re hiring a car. David wants to know about driver’s licence requirements for when he visits the UK early next year. In today’s Travel SOS, Leon gives him the lowdown and shares some handy resources for finding out more.

Q. David
I’m visiting family in Kent next year and I want to do a long road trip through the English countryside. Do I need a special permit to do this?

A. While many countries require you to have an international driving permit (IDP), it is only recommended for others. The RACV has a fantastic table that shows you where you need a permit and where you don’t, and the Australian Automobile Association also has a handy tool for working out where you’ll need one the next time you travel.

As for your UK trip, you are not required to have an international driving permit in addition to a valid Australian driver’s licence. That said, some car rental companies will ask you to have a permit, mainly for their insurance purposes. Depending on where you are, it is a criminal or civil offence to hire a car overseas without such a permit.

driving overseas

Ensure that the IDP for which you apply is relevant to the type of vehicle you intend to drive, otherwise you won’t be covered and could be in trouble with the law.

Most insurance companies won’t cover you for any damage you cause in an accident if you don’t have an IDP, so the $39 it will cost you to get one could be worth a lot more in the long run.

And it’s valid for 12 months, unless your Australian driver’s licence expires beforehand. You must always present your IDP with a valid Australian licence, otherwise the permit is worthless.

It also pays to remember that, just because you’re a foreigner driving in another country, you are not excused from knowing the local road rules. So, best butter up on your destination’s road regulations and laws before you set off.

For more information, including all the documentation that you’ll require for your application, head to

Have you ever driven a car overseas? What was your experience?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.


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