The RAC is warning travellers wanting to drive in many countries outside Europe that from the end of this month they will only be able to purchase International Driving Permits that enable them to do so from the Post Office.
This means motoring organisations will no longer issue IDPs – the official document that effectively validates UK driving licences internationally – as they have done for many years.
While an IDP is not a replacement for a UK driving licence, which still must be carried if hiring or driving a car abroad, UK drivers may require one to drive legally in many countries and independent states worldwide.
However, there are three separate international conventions – 1926, 1949 and 1968 – that countries requiring IDPs may work to so it is important to ensure the right IDP is obtained for each country drivers are planning on visiting.
Currently, the UK is only able to issue IDPs to the 1926 and 1949 conventions, but as of 28 March it will formally ratify the more widely recognised 1968 Vienna Convention. This means any UK driver with an existing International Driving Permit may find from 28 March 2019 it is not valid in many non-EU countries that operate to the 1968 IDP convention.
Carrying the wrong documentation may result in not being able to drive when abroad. Anyone needing a 1968 IDP to use soon after 28 March will only have a small ‘window’ of time to obtain the correct documentation as they can only be bought over the counter from the Post Office from 1 February and only become valid for travel on 28 March. A 1968 IDP has the added benefit of being valid for three years from the issue date as opposed to the 1926 and 1949 ones which are only valid for a year.
The decisions to ratify the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic and for the Post Office to be the sole issuer of IDPs arose as part of the Government’s preparations for the UK to leave the European Union on 29 March. While the requirement to obtain an IDP for travel within European Union countries after the UK formally leaves the bloc will depend on what the Government agrees with the EU, the ratification of the 1968 convention will also bring changes to drivers heading to non-EU states.
RAC spokesperson Nicholas Lyes said, “It is important for those planning to drive abroad from 28 March 2019 that they check they have the correct documentation.
“There are some countries where previously UK driving licence holders required a 1926 or 1949 IDP, but after this date that version will be superseded by the 1968 IDP. Anyone with an existing IDP for the country they want to drive in who is travelling and returning before 28 March 2019 is not affected.”