Tips and Inspiration for your European holiday

If you are planning on driving whilst in Europe, it is recommended that you obtain an international licence, officially called an International Driving Permit (IDP), prior to your departure from Australia (or your home country). An IDP is an internationally recognised form of identification, and in many cases is a pre-requisite for hiring a car. 


Do I need an International Driving Permit for Europe?


It is compulsory in some European countries to present an IDP, as well as your current Driver's Licence from home, when collecting your hire or lease vehicle, or when pulled over by police.

 

In my own experience, on the past couple of occasions when renting a car in Europe we haven't been asked to present an international drivers licence - our Australian licence has been sufficient.  However, for the sake of $40, I would rather be safe than risk a fine for not having one if pulled over by the police for any reason. 


UPDATE June 2017: I have recently made car hire bookings for my upcoming trip to Europe in July 2017.  As you'll see from the photos below, the confirmations clearly expressed what licence/s are required to be presented on collection of the vehicle.  The car rentals I have made for Germany and France require only regular drivers' licence from home but the rental in Switzerland requires both the regular licence and an IDP to be presented.


German can rental requirementsConfirmation of our German car rental indicates that only a regular driver's licence from home is required.


Swiss IDP requirementsIn Switzerland, we'll need to present an International Driving Permit as well as a regular licence in order to collect our hire car.

UPDATE August 2017:  On collection of our hire car in Geneva, we were NOT asked to present our International Driving Permit.


However, it is worth keeping in mind that the requirement to hold and International Driving Permit may be a law of a specific country and not necessarily a requirement of a rental car company.  If you are pulled over by police whilst driving in Europe, you may be fined for not holding a valid IDP if that particular country requires foreign drivers to present one. (See the comment by Suzanne below.)


According to the RACV website, failure to hold an International Driving Permit can result in exclusion from your travel insurance policy for a loss caused whilst driving overseas.  If you plan to drive in Europe without an IDP, I strongly recommend you check the conditions of your travel insurance regarding this.


DriveAway Holidays car hire in Europe

 

IDPs can be purchased from your local motoring organisation (RACV, NRMA, etc) by presenting your current drivers’ licence and a passport-sized photo. The International Driving Permit is valid for 12 months, and costs around $40 (2017 price). IDP's are usually issued on the spot.


Visit the Australian Government's Smart Traveller website for further details about international drivers licences.


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Comments   

# Suzanne 2017-08-24 21:10
We travelled in France and Italy in May this year. Pulled over in Siena (our GPS took us through the walled city) and fined twice. 50 euro for being in the wrong place and 400 euro for not having an international licence (that hurt!)
We have been told that the Italian law changed in January and you need an international one!
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# Carolyn 2017-08-28 17:37
Ouch, Suzanne. A 400 euro fine must have really hurt! Thanks for letting me know me about the Italian law change.
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# Nicky 2017-05-25 15:41
Hi Carolyn
Have had clarification that most hire car companies do not need you to have the permit, but it may be a legal requirement in the country in which you are driving. If you are stopped by police and they ask to see the permit, they can fine you if it is a legal requirement in that country. I also haven't been asked for a permit on the occasions I have driven overseas, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.
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# Carolyn 2017-05-25 16:15
Thanks for the clarification, Nicky. My understanding is the same as yours in that the IDP may be a government requirement rather than a hire car company requirement. Like you, I'd rather be safe than sorry. Trying to explain to a foreign speaking policeman why I don't have an IDP isn't something I'd want to have to do!
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# Carolyn 2016-02-01 15:11
Quoting Warner Dakin:
Last September, the RACQ charged us $39 each to stick a photo we supplied onto a bit of paper and stamp it. We did not use them in Italy and have not needed them over our last few trips. It serves no purpose that our driver's license would not cover, and might be worth it at say $10. It might have made sense back in 1949 when it started. I understand that the money from this ripoff goes to the Australian Automobile Association presumably for supplying the blank permits.

Thanks for your comments, Warner. I can understand your annoyance at paying for an IDP and then not having to show it. I must admit we haven't been asked to show ours the last few times we have collected a rental car but I prefer to have one just in case we come across an officious employee who insists on seeing one.
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# Warner Dakin 2016-02-01 10:53
Last September, the RACQ charged us $39 each to stick a photo we supplied onto a bit of paper and stamp it. We did not use them in Italy and have not needed them over our last few trips. It serves no purpose that our driver's license would not cover, and might be worth it at say $10. It might have made sense back in 1949 when it started. I understand that the money from this ripoff goes to the Australian Automobile Association presumably for supplying the blank permits.
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# mick 2017-08-20 11:03
I am having the same issues. Drove in France for a month recently. no worries and no need of an IDP to rent the vehicle.
Now wanting to do the same thing in Italy. It appears to be more difficult and I wonder if I will need this totally useless piece of paper. Quite clearly little more value than making an obscene amount of money for the automobile clubs rather than serving any useful purpose.
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# Carolyn 2015-06-01 10:09
Quoting Daniel:
Can i get an IDP while overseas?
I am in Europe and want to travel around by car...

Hi Daniel,
As far as I'm aware the IDP must be issued in your country of residence. It might be worth a quick email to your State's motoring association to ask them. However, you may find a car rental company that is willing to rent you a car on presentation of your standard driver's license.
Safe travels.
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# Daniel 2015-05-30 02:55
Can i get an IDP while overseas?
I am in Europe and want to travel around by car...
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# Carolyn 2013-11-01 19:45
Hi PKC54,

That's good to hear that your Queensland drivers license was sufficient. On some of the occasions I've hired cars in Europe I haven't been asked for an IDP either, but I like to be a 'boy scout' and always be prepared just in case I need to show it!
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# PKC54 2013-11-01 18:51
Have hired cars in Republic of Ireland, France and Crete and just shown my Qld Drivers License.
Having said that I did get the IDP before I left but haven't needed to use it.
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# Carolyn 2012-12-20 17:58
Hi Nidhi,
Not all European countries require the renter to show an International Driving Permit when hiring a car, however it is always a good idea to have one anyway.

The rental agreement and/or voucher you receive for your car rental should state whether an IDP is compulsory or not, however, for the minimal cost involved in obtaining one, I always think it is better to be safe than sorry.

Regards,
Carolyn - Holidays to Europe.
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# Nidhi Shrivastava 2012-12-20 16:50
Yes you need it.
Reply

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