Thousands of Brits unwittingly driving illegally in Europe! Find out how you could be risking hefty on-the-spot fines and having your vehicle impounded here

Thousands of Brit tourists could be unwittingly risking big fines and having vehicles confiscated while travelling in Europe.

Recent stories covering post-Brexit driving in Europe have raised the likelihood of Brits needing an International Driving Permit (IDP) – but for many this is, unknowingly, already the case.

Read on to see if you’ve been driving illegally when abroad. Image credit: Wikipedia

The recent spotlight on the IDP has uncovered a legal anomaly that could be leaving thousands of British tourists at risk of hefty on-the-spot fines or even having their vehicle confiscated while driving in Europe.

Here’s what you need to know about staying legal in Europe…

Why could I be driving illegally in Europe?

Are you one of the thousands of drivers who passed their test before the early 1980s? If so, it’s possible you still have a green paper licence rather than the pink paper licence or photocard that’s currently issued.

It’s this green paper licence that could be leaving you open to fines and having your vehicle confiscated while driving abroad.

But my green paper licence is legal – what’s the problem?

As members of the EU, for now, we enjoy free access to European roads so don’t need to buy an IDP – provided we hold a photocard or pink paper licence.

While your green licence is perfectly legal in the UK – many EU countries demand that anyone holding this version of the UK document must also purchase an IDP.

What about the pink paper licence?

We’ve covered that in the table below.

Really? So what countries demand an IDP to go alongside the green paper licence?

Popular destinations for Brit drivers – such as France, Germany and Spain – are included on the list. Here’s the full rundown of countries that require the IDP.

Here’s a list of the countries in Europe and beyond where you need an IDP to go with your green paper licence.

Country Green paper licence Pink paper licence
Belgium IDP is required IDP not required
Bulgaria IDP is required IDP not required
Chile IDP is required IDP not required
Croatia IDP is required IDP not required
Cyrprus IDP is required IDP not required
Czech Republic IDP is required IDP not required
Denmark IDP is required IDP not required
Estonia IDP is required IDP not required
Finland IDP is required IDP not required
France IDP is required IDP not required
Gabon IDP is required IDP not required
Germany IDP is required IDP not required
Greece IDP is required IDP not required
Hong Kong IDP is required IDP not required
Ireland IDP is required IDP not required
Italy IDP is required IDP not required
Latvia IDP is required IDP not required
Luxembourg IDP is required IDP not required
Malaysia IDP is required IDP not required
Malta IDP is required IDP not required
Netherlands IDP is required IDP not required
Portugal IDP is required IDP not required
Romania IDP is required IDP not required
Slovakia IDP is required IDP not required
Slovenia IDP is required IDP not required
South Africa IDP is required IDP not required
Spain IDP is required IDP not required
Sweden IDP is required IDP not required

How to get an IDP?

The good news is, getting hold of an IDP is easy and relatively cheap. Here’s how all you need know.

An IDP lasts for one year, cost £5.50 and you can find out more on the IDP here.

To get and IDP you will need:

Be 18 years or over

Hold a valid UK driving licence

The best place to get an IDP is at the Post Office. Head to your local branch and the process is a simple application form.

You’ll need to bring:

Your full UK driving licence – photocard or older paper version licence

The £5.50 application fee

A passport sized photo signed on the back

Proof of identification – such as a passport

If you’re travelling via Eurotunnel, and need one, you can get an International Driving Permit, you can pick one up from the AA’s Eurotunnel shop. Find out more here.


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