Differing driving habits around the world can sometimes make moving or going on holiday to different countries a little tricky. With varying laws and regulations, it’s important that you have a good understanding of wherever it is you’re going, and what you need in order to stay safe on the road. There are lots of things you should consider when driving in another country, such as car rental, car rental insurance, and what paperwork you need to be eligible to drive there. Here’s everything you need to know about preparing to drive abroad.

Do I need an International Driver’s Licence?

Thousands of people commonly search for an ‘International Driver’s Licence’ online every month. However, there is actually no such thing as an International Driver’s Licence, it isn’t a legally recognised document.

This is often confused with a driving permit, which is used alongside your Australian driving licence to allow you to drive in different countries. Taking this into account, you should be wary of any websites that try to get you to apply or pay for an International Driver’s Licence.

What is an International Driving Permit?

If you’re looking to drive in another country, there’s a good chance you’ll need an International Driving Permit. This is an official United Nations and Australian Government document that advises local authorities and car rental companies that you’re eligible to drive in Australia. They’re slightly larger than a passport and include a photo ID. Using these will allow you to drive in over 150 countries, however, they are used as a compliment to your own driving licence, so don’t forget to take that with you as well.

This type of permit translates your licence into nine different languages and is valid for 12 months. Most countries use the 1949 IDP but some use the 1926 convention IDP, so be sure to check which one you need before applying.

How to apply for an International Driving Permit

Before applying for an International Driving Permit, check the age required to hire a car in the country you’re travelling to. Legally you must be 18 to apply for an IDP but in some countries you need to be 21 to hire a car. /p>

It’s fairly simple to apply for your IDP but you cannot apply for your permit over 3 months before your trip. It’s eligible for 12 months so may cover multiple trips, but if you’re looking for a lengthy stay, make sure you get cover before it expires. Here is what you’ll need to apply for your IDP:

  • A valid Australian driving licence

  • A recent passport-sized photo (less than 3.5mm-4.5mm)

  • It will also cost $39 (AUD)

You can apply online, or head down to a local post office. It will take roughly 3-5 working days to receive your permit, so make sure you leave enough time before you head off on your travels. When applying online, only use the recognised authority in your state – which you can find here.

If 12 months pass and you’re looking to renew your IDP, you can renew online but try to allow 10 working days for this to be processed.

Driving in Europe

Making sure you have the right documents to drive in other countries isn’t the only hurdle when it comes to international driving, different rules and habits can make it difficult once you’re on the road.

If you’re heading out to the UK, Gibraltar or Cyprus, they drive on the left-hand side of the road, with the driver sitting front right, the same as here in Australia. Anywhere else in Europe and you’ll have to be prepared to drive on the opposite side of the road. Be particularly careful when approaching roundabouts or junctions as this is where it can get really tricky.

Always make sure your car is properly insured. Most rental companies will offer basic cover, but this will often not include vulnerable parts of your vehicle such as the windscreen or tyres.

To ensure you’re covered for all eventualities, we offer $10,000 of excess insurance, so you won’t have to pay out in case of damage or theft. It would also be advisable to ensure you have the right equipment should you suffer a breakdown, particularly if you’re travelling long distances.

Driving rules and etiquette vary around the world, but if you do your research on wherever it is you’re going, you should avoid any unnecessary stress. Enjoy your travels!

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