In order to drive abroad, you’ll need to obtain an international driving permit. It’s a document that allows you to drive a vehicle in a foreign country if you also have a national driving license with you so that you have proof you’re allowed to drive.
European countries require foreigners from outside Europe to have the permit with them at all times, while they’re driving. The rules are different for those who actually reside in Europe and have one of the national licenses issued by EU countries.
How to Get the Permit?
The permit is issued by the driving authorities that issue a national license as well. It’s issued based on the national license and there are no tests or additional steps to take if you already have a license. All that you need to do is to pay a fee and fill out a form and you’ll get your permit in a matter of days.
It’s also important to have a copy of a national license and provide two photos for the permit to be produced. You can also get the permit yourself, but there’s usually a line to wait in.
The Cost of Getting a Permit?
An international driving permit is one of the least expensive documents you could get. It costs about $20 to produce a permit and there are no additional medical exams or tests to take. You’ll also have to provide two photos in order to create a permit and there’s some cost to that.
If you get the permit in person you’ll also have to provide physical copies of documents and forms and that comes with some extra cost, but it’s not anything to worry about. Getting the permit online is more convenient anyway.
A Permit or a License
The proper term of the document is an international driving permit. It’s often called a license by mistake and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, if you find a site offering you “an international license” or see the term used on any document, chances are that it’s a fraud of some kind, so look for some trusted options like you can find on Truely.
There are resources online to help you find a reputable source and make sure that all of your documents are in order before you take a trip. Chances are that if something seems to be too inexpensive, or too good to be true, it probably is.
Having a License Issued by a European Country
If you have a national driving permit issued by an EU country, you won’t need any other documents to drive in the EU. All EU countries recognize each other’s driving documents as well as insurance policies and you can drive across Europe without having to worry about it.
Getting an EU driver’s license, however, requires you to be a resident for a while and to pass the tests required for new drivers even if you have a driver’s license issued abroad.
There’s no change in regulations for the UK drivers since the country has left the EU. EU citizens can still drive their own vehicles in the UK, without a need for an international permit. Their license is valid in the UK for 3 years after which they need to obtain a UK one.
UK citizens can also drive in the EU without a need for an international permit and they can exchange their national permit for one of the EU countries without having to pass a driving test. These rules may change over time, as the relationship between the UK and the EU are redefined.
What Happens When Your Permit Expires?
If an international permit expires, you won’t be allowed to drive until you renew it. That can be done online and the process is the same as it is with getting the permit in the first place. It can be done while you’re abroad. The permit expires after a year.
If a national license expires, an international permit becomes invalid as well. They usually last for about five years. Renewing those online can be a bit trickier and in some cases, it can’t be done at all.
Who can Drive with an International Permit?
Anyone above the age of 18 can drive using an international driving permit. This is the case even when your country of origin allows you to drive if you’re below that age. Those over 18 years will also need to have an insurance policy while driving in Europe and that policy could be more expensive if you’re a young driver.
The permit can only be used to drive a personal vehicle and for commercial purposes you’ll need to obtain a special license that will usually be provided by your employer.
What The Permit Can’t Be Used for?
It’s important to note that the permit can’t be used as proof of identification. It’s a document that’s only valid when you have a national permit with you and it can be used only for driving or renting a car and nothing more. If an authority requires you to show an ID it needs to be another one.
For the most part, that ID needs to be a passport if you’re a foreigner. It too needs to be up to date or your license and permit won’t be accepted even if they haven’t expired yet.
European Driving Culture
Driving culture in Europe is a bit different than in the US and that’s noticeable when you’re on the road. It’s a good idea to learn about this cultural difference beforehand, but also to spend some time observing the drivers on the road in front of you and learn from it.
The regulations and traffic laws apply to foreigners with international permits as well and you’ll do well to learn it as well, and to try to stick to the rules at all times. It will make you and everyone else a lot safer and help you avoid any issues with the traffic authorities while taking a trip.