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Driving Abroad - Getting an International Permit

Driving in a foreign country can bring a whole new set of challenges, you will be travelling on roads you are unaccustomed to and the driving laws and regulations will be significantly different. Acquiring a list of the country's driving laws before you travel is highly recommended.

You will be required to bring your GB driving licence with you when you drive abroad, which is also valid within the European Economic Area. In certain countries you will be required to have an international driving permit (IDP). International driving permits are issued by the RAC and the AA are valid for 12 months and currently cost £5.50. To apply for an IDP you will need to be over the age of 18, have passed a driving test and be resident in Great Britain. For further information go to the Direct.gov website Driving in other Countries on a GB licence.

Tips for safe driving abroad

You should protect yourself from the risk of carjacking or car theft by staying alert to danger, parking in well lit places and by not leaving valuables on display in your vehicle.

Check what side of the road you should drive on before you travel.

What are the speed limits? You need to be aware of the speed limits on highways, in built up areas and driving through towns or villages.

Are you allowed to use a mobile phone while driving? Many countries have banned the use of mobile phones while driving as they can cause a distraction.

What is the legal alcohol limit for drivers? Some countries have a zero tolerance policy and the penalty can be severe so if you are unsure it is best to not drink any alcoholic beverages before you get behind the wheel.

  • What are the parking rules?
  • What are the minimum and maximum ages for drivers?
  • No matter where you are you and all your passengers should use your seat belts, whether there are penalties for not doing so or not.
  • Never pick up hitchhikers or offer lifts to strangers.
  • Ensure you have adequate car and liability insurance.
  • Don't overload your vehicle as doing so could be dangerous.
  • Take regular breaks on long journeys and don't drive when you are tired.
  • Remember to purchase a comprehensive car insurance policy to cover you in the event of damage or theft.

Driving Abroad for US Citizens

It is advisable to check if your US driving licence will be valid in your destination country, if not you should apply for an International Driving Permit before you travel. You can apply for an International Drivers Permit from the National Automobile Club or from the American Automobile Association. Ensure you carry your licence or permit with you along with additional identification if required.

The local driving style of the country you are visiting may be different from what you are used to, so be prepared and expect the unexpected. For example drivers in Buenos Aries tend to use a more aggressive driving style than those in the US, and often seem to ignore traffic regulations.

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