Friday, 3 April 2015

Documents: IDP (International Driving Permit)

What is the International Driving Permit (IDP)? It is a document born out of a series of treaties between different countries. It essentially allows you to not have to take a driving test in each country, with your home licence being sufficient, but needing a special new document to declare that. Increasingly there are less countries that require you to have one, but the moment you leave the European Union it is an essential piece of paperwork. This guide will help you through the process.

Firstly, there are two ways to apply for the IDP. They follow much the same system, one is done in person, the other is done by post. In order to do this in person you need to find your nearest post office branch that offers this service, because not all branches do it. Use the handy little branch finder on the post office website (link). Enter your postcode or town, on the 'Products and Services' drop down menu, scroll to the 'Driving' section then hit the check box for 'International Driving Permits'. Alternatively, if you want to do this by post (and incur a few extra pounds cost), then head on over to the AA website and use their guide found here, or the RAC website here.

So before we begin, some quick points about the IDP.
  • Cost: £5.50 per IDP (in person), £8.50 (AA by post), £8 (RAC by post)
  • IDP Duration: 12 months from start date
  • IDP Processing Time: 10 minutes (in person), about 10 working days (by post)
  • Place of Application and Nationalities: Post Office/AA/RAC and UK Citizens
  • Application Date: you can apply up to 3 months in advance of the start date

So how did we do it? Firstly here is our little check list of things you will need per person:
  • Passport Photo 35 mm x 45 mm (x1)
  • Printed Application Form (x1)
  • Passport (if applying in person), or photocopy of passport main page (by post)
  • Driving Licence and Counterpart (in person), or photocopy (by post)

Step 1 - The Application Form and the IDP

Below is a scan of the application form that you can get at the Post Office. The online/by post form looks slightly different and can be found here (AA) or here (RAC).

Fill out all the details and select which type of permit your require (1926 versus 1949). For the Mongol Rally you will definitely need a 1949. However, if you're mad enough to want to go and visit Iraq (or Somalia, or Brazil) then you will need to apply for the 1926. For further information a list of countries and guidance can be found here.

Once you have filled in all the necessary details, show the person at the counter your driving licence and counterpart and your passport (another form of photo identification will do if your passport if off at an embassy somewhere). Give them your passport photo (signed on the back), it doesn't need to be attached (at least I didn't bother), and the application form. They'll go about their routine of hand writing details onto the permit, stamping it multiple times, and no doubt asking you a multitude of questions about your upcoming trip!

Finally once that is all done (it took about 10 minutes for me) you will have a nice pale brown looking piece of card that you probably could have made at home. A copy of the one I applied for last year is below:

If this guide has been helpful (and saved you some time and worry), and you would like to say thank you, then feel free to donate a couple of quid to our charity, Anthony Nolan, through our Just Giving link.

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