Hi There I would be very grateful for any help here. I have been living out of the Uk for 13 years. I have the paper license which is valid for a long time but the plastic ID card is out of date. I read that i cannot get the plastic ID because i am no longer resident in the uk. Problem is i want to take a holiday in the uk and hire a car and most companies won't accept the paper driving license, only the plastic id. Will an international driving permit issued in my current country of residence be ok.

all help much appreciated



Drivers Licences regulations are mostly based on place of residence. So since you are no longer a UK resident, your UK licence may no longer be considered valid.

So the issued International Driving Permit (IDP), togeather with the Drivers License it was issued against, is what you must use.

Depending on who issued your present Drivers Licence, an IDP may not be needed.
It is, however, advised to have one to avoid any 'confusion':

It can come in handy when you're renting a car in the UK, stopped by law enforcement, and in many other situations as it's an international document which can help you sidestep confusion about a driver's license local officials may be seeing for the first time.

Driving in Great Britain on a non-GB licence - GOV.UK

  • gives no information if a IDP is mandatory for a specific country since it doesn't ask from which country the DL is
  • While I agree that having an IDP may well help the OP and is a good idea, the original question was whether a rental could be accomplished without the plastic card. Whether an IDP + the paper license are enough will be up to the individual rental agency, and perhaps even to the identity and attitude of the clerk behind the counter. Nov 15 '19 at 3:00
  • @DavidsupportsMonica My first UK Drivers Licence was a red book. A green paper one had been announced (where the corner with the year of birth could be torn off). All of those expired at some point. But a IDP, which describes the the Drivers License is only valid against the Licence it is issued against, not another that the IDP wasn't issued against. Nov 15 '19 at 7:26
  • I don't disagree. If the national issuance authority of the OP's country will issue an IDP against the OP's paper license, an IDP might be helpful to have. But whether the IDP/paper combo will be enough to rent a car will ultimately be up to the rental agency. Nov 15 '19 at 15:23
  • An IDP is only needed if the foreign driving licence does not have all details also written in English on it. Also, you can only get an IDP by applying for it in the country where the driving licence was issued, and the IDP can be used in any country except the country where it was issued
    – Scott Earle
    Nov 26 '19 at 8:32
  • @ScottEarle It may also be needed if the driving classes differ radically from that of the host country, which in the past was often the case. Nov 26 '19 at 8:42

I am also a UK expat who has not been resident in the UK since 2004. I had the photo-ID driving licence since 1999 or 2000, and so it expired while I have been out of the UK. However, I do have a driving licence that I got in Thailand soon after moving here. I got the Thai licence on the back of having a valid UK licence at the time. Now I have to renew my Thai licence every five years.

A few years ago I travelled to the UK, and was told by the car rental company at Heathrow Airport that they accept any foreign driving licence as long as it's from a Geneva Convention (1949) country. The only reason they will require an International Driving Permit (IDP) is if the foreign driving licence does not have the information written in English, and for that purpose the IDP serves as a translation.

I had got an IDP in Bangkok in anticipation of perhaps needing one, but it turns out that because the Thai driving licence has information written in both Thai and English, I did not need the IDP in the UK.

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