Driving abroad - where do I need an international licence

What licensing rules apply when driving in other countries

Where do I need an international licence?

You are still required to produce your own licence for inspection when hiring a vehicle overseas; an IDP should be seen as a translation of your licence and not a replacement.

All countries in the EU benefit from a ‘mutual recognition’ agreement in respect of driving licences.

Under the agreement, Irish driving licence holders can drive in any EU country on their existing Irish driving licence so long as it’s current and valid. .

An Irish licence holder must be age 18 with a full licence to drive in most EU Countries.  The following countries (Austria, Germany, Hungary, United Kingdom and Norway) allow a full licence holder to drive at the age of 17. 

Other countries

When driving in non-EU or EEA countries, an international driving permit (IDP) is required. This is recognised internationally and allows you to drive in most but not all countries across the world.

An IDP is available to Irish residents with a current full Irish driving licence. The permit is valid for one year from date of issue or to the expiry date of the licence if less than a year.

There are two types of IDP:

  • 1949 UN Convention IDP. More common type; recognised in most countries
  • 1926 UN Convention IDP. Needed for driving in Brazil, Iraq, Nigeria and Somalia

How to get an IDP

To obtain an IDP you will need:

  • Valid full Republic of Ireland driver licence
  • Passport-size photo
  • Completed application form
  • Fee – €10.00

If you require both types of permit, please send two photographs, two completed applications and double the fee to €20.

Apply to:

AA Travel

Maryland House
20/21 South William Street
Dublin 2

Who is ineligible?

You cannot be issued with an IDP in Ireland if:

  • You have a learner permit (provisional driving licence)

Where can I use my IDP?

You can use your permit in any of the countries that have signed the 1926 or 1949 UN Convention on road traffic. In addition, many other countries that are not signatories to the 1949 convention recognise the IDP and accept it in their territory.

A list of countries that recognise IDPs is available online but you should contact your embassy or consulate in advance of travel to confirm whether or not an IDP is recognised by the country you will be visiting.

Note: even when you hold an IDP, you should always carry your own driving license when travelling abroad, as you may be required to produce this licence for inspection, for example, when hiring a car abroad.

Irish Licence Holders taking up residence abroad

A Learner Permit is not valid to drive or exchange in Northern Ireland or any other country outside of Ireland.

Where an Irish licence holder takes up residence in another EU country or the European Economic Area (EEA) – Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland they can drive on their existing Irish driving licence so long as it’s current and valid. They can also exchange their current licence at any time it that country and within 10 years of its expiry.

Irish licence holders taking up residence in any of the following countries; Australia, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Japan, Jersey, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, *New Zealand and *Taiwan may exchange their current full driving licence in that country and within 1 year of its expiry.

*Note; Motorcycle and Car are the only categories recognised for exchange of Irish licences with New Zealand and Taiwan.

Where an Irish licence holder exchanges their licence for a New Zealand licence and they have held their driving licence for less than 2 years, then they will have to do the stage 2 test in New Zealand.

The various States in Australia generally  recognise  Irish driving licences  in respect of a car or motorcycle entitlement for exchange to their licence for a car or motorcycle. Truck or bus licences are not exchanged.

Ontario, Canada

An agreement to allow for mutual exchange of driving licences between Ireland and Ontario has been agreed and legislation is expected to be put in place shortly. This exchange agreement will allow Irish Licence holders to exchange their car driving licence for a category G or G1 as appropriate in Ontario.

Ontario licence  holders can exchange a G or G1 driving licence  for the category B (car) restricted to automatic transmission.

A decision was made to prioritise Ontario due to the high number of Irish residents there.  Now that we have reached this agreement, it should be possible to proceed very quickly to agreements with the other Canadian provinces.