Can I hire a car if I have a foreign driving licence?
The very short answer is yes; you can hire a car or van as long as you’re a fully qualified driver, and you’re prepared with all the additional documentation that might be required of you. So what documentation is that, you might ask. And we’d reply - aha, that’s very much the operative question, isn’t it?
Now, giving a full answer involves going into a lot of different variables and mitigating factors. What’s more, the wide-ranging changes introduced by Brexit - together with the staggering impact of the recent global pandemic - have complicated the details even further for countless travellers.
So it helps to start out at the painfully obvious basics. To hire any kind of car or van in any country, you’ll always need a full, valid driving licence at the bare minimum. Depending on where you’re planning on driving, and where you got your licence, you may also need an International Driving Permit, and possibly a temporary local licence as well. You may also need to pay a small additional cost. OK, that broadly covers the majority of situations different travellers might find themselves in - so now let’s get down to brass tacks.
Driving in the UK
• If you’re hiring or driving a car in the UK with a UK photocard licence, you’re immediately good to go.
• If you’re hiring or driving a car in the UK with an older green version of the UK driving licence, you’ll still be absolutely fine.
• If you’re hiring or driving a car in the UK with a driving licence that’s written in a language that does not use the Latin alphabet (for example Cyrillic), you may need an International Driving Permit.
• If you hold a driving licence from an EU country, you may find that the requirements vary between different UK hire companies. Some will require you to have an International Driving Permit no matter what country your licence was issued in. Others (like us) will only require an IDP from non-EU licence holders.
To be clear, here at Intack our requirements for foreign licence holders are as follows:
• No special requirements from UK driving licence holders
• No special requirements from EU driving licence holders (i.e. no need for additional documentation or an International Driving Permit
• For holders of foreign driving licences originating from a non-EU country, there is an additional insurance premium of £28 on all hires
• Licences written in non-Latin scripts must be accompanied by an International Driving Permit
Driving in the EU or European Economic Area
• If you’re hiring or driving a car in the European Union or European Economic Area with a UK photocard licence, you should be good to go.
• If you’re hiring or driving a car in the European Union or European Economic Area with an older green version of the UK driving licence, you will probably need an International Driving Permit.
Driving outside the UK and the EU
• If you’re hiring or driving a car outside the UK and European Union, you will probably need an International Driving Permit. At the time of writing it’s required by 140 countries around the world - the AA has published a full list of these on its website.
• Whatever kind of licence you hold, some specific companies may also require you to apply for an additional local licence when you arrive at your destination. You may or may not need an International Driving Permit in addition to this, but you’ll probably find that most hire companies recommend getting one anyway.
A few final things worth remembering
What we’ve outlined above are all just broad guidelines, intended to give you a general idea of what to expect when you’re hiring in certain countries. As we’ve hopefully conveyed, a lot of it comes down to the discretion of the individual car hire company, so for total peace of mind it’s often a good idea to try and get any answers to your questions directly from them.
You may also find it helpful to contact the local authorities in the place you’re planning on staying, so that you can get further reassurance that you’ll have all the documentation you’ll need in case you’re stopped by any officers.
Here’s a particularly important one; don’t get an International Driving Permit mixed up with an International Driving Licence. There’s one key difference between them - only the first one actually exists! There’s no such thing as an International Driving Licence, as that would imply that it could do the job of both an International Driving Permit, and your national driving licence. In reality, there’s no substitute for either of these documents, so if the country you’re travelling to requires an IDP, you’ll need to make sure you take your regular licence too. Simple as that.
How can I get an International Driving Permit?
It’s pretty straightforward to get yourself an International Driving Permit - you just have to apply at your local Post Office. The IDP itself is valid for 12 months, and if you’re not embarking on your trip immediately, then you can even defer its start date by up to three months before you go. Ideal for getting yourself prepared early on!
So, that’s all the essentials covered. If you’ve got any further questions or you need any additional clarification, we’re only too happy to see what we can do here at Intack Self Drive. We like to make everything as simple and straightforward as we can when you come to hire a van, car or minibus. Plus if you’re thinking about using your vehicle for something more long-term, our Flexi Hire services are designed to give you the very best value on long-term hire. Feel free to explore the details right here on our site, or give us a ring on 01254 57811!