If you are planning on heading out to Orlando any time soon then you may be in for a shock when you hand over your driving licence at the car rental location. As of the turn of the new Year, anyone driving in the state of Florida not only requires a valid UK license but a something on top too. Recently, Craig Duncan (Oh, how we miss him!) received an email from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles:

Customers that wish to drive in Florida without obtaining a Florida driver license will be required to have an International Driving Permit to accompany their out-of-country license. This applies to any vehicle, including rental vehicles. The International Driving Permit must be in the customer’s name and from their country of residence.

This is the information from the Florida Statutes:

322.04(c)(1)Persons exempt from obtaining driver license-

(c) A nonresident who is at least 16 years of age operating a motor vehicle of the type for which a Class E driver license is required in this state if the nonresident has in his or her immediate possession:

(2) An International Driving Permit issued in his or her name in his or her country of residence and a valid license issued in that country.

When did the law change, and why? January 1, 2013. The purpose of the permit is for the English translation. Obviously, a license issued in the UK is already written in English, so the permit is admittedly a little redundant but that is technically the law at this point.

What will happen to British drivers who drive without an IDP?
Without an IDP, a driver is therefore driving without a valid license and if stopped, law enforcement has the option of 1/ arresting the driver and taking him/her to jail 2/ giving the driver a citation with a mandatory court appearance.

Hope this helps,

Deputy Communications Director
Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles

You might see this and panic. I for one had never heard of an International Driving Permit but they are extremely easy to obtain. The easiest way to do it is to head to your local Post Office.

By arranging it with the Post Office you’ll get the following:

  • Covered for just £5.50: you may be charged additional fees elsewhere
  • Valid for 12 months: use your permit on as many trips as you like
  • Flexible start time: post date your permit. They can delay the start date of your permit up to 3 months from confirming your application. up to three months from when you apply

Once you’ve got your international permit, you’re legally covered to drive in many overseas countries – just make sure you’ve also got your UK driving licence with you.

Apply over the counter

You’ll need to apply in person, so check which Post Office branch near you issues International Driving Permits.

  1. Pick up an application form and fill it in. Make sure you’ve got your dates right – you can only apply up to three months before you want to start using your permit.
  2. Bring your full UK driving licence (or provisional licence and pass certificate), the £5.50 application fee, a photo of you (passport-sized and signed on the back) and your proof of identity with you when you come back in with your completed application. See a list of accepted identity documents.
  3. They’ll sort everything out and give you a receipt for your payment.

Things to remember

  • You must be 18 or over to apply.
  • Always carry your UK driving licence and passport along with your International Driving Permit when abroad.
  • Hiring a car? Check your rental conditions in advance in case you need to carry anything extra.
  • If you’re travelling on business, or not just for leisure, check the local regulations to see if you need a local driving licence.
  • Make sure you’ve got the right permit – you can’t use a UK-issued International Driving Permit to drive in the UK.