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I am an Australian citizen, my partner is a British citizen, and we want to drive from the U.K. into France and onwards to Berlin for a few days. My license is (obviously) Australian, but I am a U.K. permanent resident, and my passport shows I have right to abode—basically forever. My partner doesn't drive, but our car is UK registered with road tax, MOT and insurance.

My question is would I still require a international driving permit? Bear in mind, I live in the U.K., so I can no longer obtain one through Australia, as you collect in person from state recognised motor clubs. And to obtain one in the U.K. I require a UK license, but our trip is planned for next week, and would be unable to get the new license in time.

  • Would you require one if you came directly from Australia? Being a UK resident does not exempt you from anything but it might not be necessary in the first place. Maybe something you could inquire about on our travel website? – Gala Mar 5 '16 at 18:39
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    "bare in my" = "bear in mind"? As I understand it, in France, you don't need an IDP per se, you just need a French-language license, or a translation if the license isn't in French. The IDP basically serves as a translation. In practice, though, most French police officers read enough English that I think you'd probably get away with not having one. If you want to play it safe, get a certified translation done by a professional translator. I don't know the situation in Germany, however. – phoog Mar 6 '16 at 0:13
  • If you live in the UK you are required to exchange your license within 12 months of becoming resident. This costs £43 and takes up to 3 weeks. – Michael Hampton Mar 7 '16 at 20:24
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Since you do not have an EU issued, or an EU converted licence, national laws will apply. If you intend to drive in France this means:

If you come to France for a short stay (for holidays, for example), you can drive with your license. It must be valid and be written in French or accompanied by a translation or an international permit.

For Germany you also need it to be translated:

When staying in Germany on a temporary basis (e.g. as a tourist), you are permitted to drive a motor vehicle if you have a valid Australian state/territory licence together with an official translation into German.

So while you don't need to have an IDP, you need to have some kind of official translation of your licence to both French and German. (I haven't checked the laws of Belgium and the Netherlands, but if you're trying to get from France to Germany using those countries I guess similar laws would apply, and you'll need to have a Dutch translation as well). I'm not sure where you would be able to get those translations though.

Note that these are what you should do officially, in practice an English language licence is usually enough to drive in the EU, but you won't be able to count on this if you encounter a strict police officer.

Note that if you intend to stay in the UK for long term, you should definitely convert your licence to a UK one. You can still drive your car while the conversion is in progress (as in the UK you don't need to have your licence with you while driving), and you'll be able to use that licence easily while in the EU. Note that your converted licence is still only valid for short term trips in the EU! You have to do the conversion while your licence is valid, and within the first 5 years of you moving to the UK, after which you would need to retake the driving exam.

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