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Travelling in a hire car: Do I need an International Driving Permit when driving abroad?

You have booked the trip and reserved the hire car. Now you are wondering whether you need to have an International Driving Permit to drive abroad.

As a rule:

With an EU driving licence you can drive without any problem in any EU country and any country in the EEA (European Economic Area).

  •  EU member states
  • EEA (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein)

However, if you still possess a paper licence, it is advisable to carry a printout of COUNCIL DIRECTIVE of 29 July 1991 on driving licences (91/439/EEC), even if your paper licence does in principle entitle you drive a hire car.

Countries outside the EU and EEA

If you wish to travel outside the EU or EEA, it is possible the regulations might require you to be in possession of an International Driving Permit.

To be on the safe side and avoid any problems when driving abroad, in addition to your EU driving licence you should be able to present the following documents:

  • Passport 
  • International Driving Permit

In countries like the USA and Canada to play it safe it is best to have an International Driving Permit. Mostly it is sufficient just to present an EU driving licence to be able to hire a car, but an EU licence alone may not be sufficient in the event of a police check. So the best advice is to be able to present an International Driving Permit and also your passport (not a copy). In some countries like Australia, New Zealand and Egypt it is obligatory to be in possession of an International Driving Permit.

In the UK you can apply in person at selected Post Office branches.
What you need to bring:

  • Your full UK driving licence - photo card licence or older paper licence 
  • The £5.50 application fee 
  • A passport sized photo signed on the back 
  • Proof of identification, e.g. passport 

The cost is only £5.50: no additional charges.

Do I need an International Driving Permit to drive a hire car?

Where is my EU driving licence valid and where do I need an International Driving Permit?

Driving licence/permitWhere is valid?
EU licenceEU and EEA member countries
International Driving Permit plus passportNon-EU and EEA countries