The distinction between and IDP and an IDL is not always clear. Therefore, please be aware that an International Driving Licence is NOT the same thing as an IDP. An International Driving Licence is not a legally recognised document. In fact it is probably easiest to say that an International Driving Licence does not really exist. The term is often misused when referring to an International Driving Permit.
An IDP is needed to travel in non-EU countries and also countries that use a different alphabet to that of the British/American variety. The IDP is, put simply, a translation of all of the important information on your driving licence into eight different languages, thus making it easier for the officials in the visiting country to read it.
An IDP can only be used in conjunction with a full and valid UK driving licence. You must be 18 years or older to apply for one. You can apply for an IDP by post, at selected post offices and at the Eurotunnel. The IDP is slightly larger in size than a passport, complete with photograph and important information.
A permit such as this will allow you to drive in most countries overseas and there are 140 countries that recommend or require it. These countries include, the USA, Brazil and Hong Kong. The permit will be valid for 12 months from the date of issue.
The International Driving Licence can only be used in conjunction with your full UK driving Licence and both should be carried with you at all times when driving abroad. The IDP should give you piece of mind, when travelling abroad; should you be stopped by foreign police or officials and you are unable to speak the language, handing over your International Driving Permit, should provide them with all the information they require.
So, in summary. An International Driving Licence is not a legally recognised document – be weary of anyone selling them online and trying to tell you otherwise. In order to drive in many non-EU countries or countries who do not use the roman alphabet, it is recommended, and in many cases, required that you have an International Driving Permit in addition to your UK licence.
For a detailed list of countries that require an IDP visit our Which Driving Licence