Licence Bureau has warned UK drivers that their driving licences may not be valid in the European Union (EU) in the event of the nation exiting with no withdrawal agreement in place.
After March 2019 UK drivers looking to drive on business or pleasure in EU countries, or looking to hire a car will need to be in possession of both a UK driving licence, and one or both of two different International Driving Permits (IDPs).
The warning from Licence Bureau follows the Department of Transport (DoT) publishing a detailed guidance document on the 13 September entitled ‘Driving in the EU if there’s no Brexit deal.’
‘It’s something businesses and individuals need to be aware of, to start thinking of developing contingency plans should the issue arise,” explained Malcolm Maycock, managing director of Licence Bureau
“The DoT document will be particularly useful for companies to help them manage the passage of their people between countries. We hope its findings won’t become reality but welcome it being published six months before the Brexit deadline,” he added.
Currently UK driving licences are valid in the EU. If you hold a UK licence, you can drive for both work and leisure purposes throughout the EU without other documents.
According to the DoT, there are two types of IDP required by EU countries. Each is governed by a separate United Nations convention – one IDP is governed by the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic and the other is governed by the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic.
The IDP version required depends on which EU country you are visiting and whether it is party to the 1949 or the 1968 convention.
Each type of IDP is valid for a different period. The 1949 convention IDP lasts for 12 months. After 28 March 2019 in the EU, a UK issued 1949 IDP would be recognised in Ireland, Spain, Malta and Cyprus.
The 1968 convention IDP is valid for 3 years, or for however long a driving licence is valid if that date is earlier.
The UK ratified the 1968 convention on 28 March 2018, as a part of its EU exit preparations. The 1968 convention will come into force for the UK on 28 March 2019.
After 28 March 2019, a UK-issued 1968 convention IDP would be recognised in all other EU countries, plus Norway and Switzerland.
IDPs are available from Post Office counters at a cost of £5.50 and take around five minutes to complete.