Driving regulations differ from country to country, so to stay on the right side of the law you need to do a little bit of research before you plan to drive abroad. At Hertz Car Rental, we’re always happy to answer any questions you may have on driving abroad, but to start you off, here’s a quick guide to what you’ll need to be able to drive in Europe and the USA if you hold a UAE driving licence.

What is an International Driving Licence?

Firstly, it’s important to know that there is no such thing as an International Driving Licence or IDL, so beware of any website that offers these. The correct permit is called an International Driving Permit, or IDP, and is issued by the official licencing organisation in your country of origin. This permit is recognised in over 140 countries around the world, including all European countries and the USA.

You use an IDP alongside your UAE driving licence, so this does not replace your standard driving licence but acts as an internationally-recognised permit to drive abroad. You’ll need to carry both your UAE and your IDL with you when driving abroad, as the authorities may ask to see both documents.

What does an IDP look like?

An IDP is slightly larger than a passport in size and has a photo-ID section, so it can be used when hiring a car from Hertz, or whenever you’re asked for proof of ID. It translates information on your UAE licence into several different languages, so that authorities in other countries can access your information quickly and easily.

An IDP is valid for 12 months from date of issue. Bear in mind that you may be restricted to driving certain classes of vehicle, so you will need to check with the UAE licencing agency. You will also need to have held your UAE licence for at least a year before applying for an IDP to drive abroad.

Do I always need an IDP?

For UAE licence-holders, it’s not always essential to have an IDP, and there are over 50 countries that now partner with the UAE, meaning you don’t have to apply for an IDP to drive in these countries. Fortunately, this includes most of the European member states, as well as the USA.

The UAE driver’s licence is now accepted in:

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Mauritania, Djibouti, Comoros, Tunisia, Iraq, Palestine, Spain, France, USA, UK, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Netherlands, Slovakia, Ireland, Austria, Greece, Sweden, China, Poland, Canada, Turkey, Norway, Latvia, New Zealand, Serbia, South Africa, Finland, Hungary, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Singapore, Austria, Slovakia, Luxembourg, China, Finland, Romania, Denmark and Serbia.

Drivers from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait may have different restrictions regarding the validity of driving licences and the requirements for IDPs. To be sure you’re using the correct licence and have everything you need to be able to drive abroad, check with your licencing agency before you travel.

If you do want to get an IDP to allow you to drive in countries not listed as accepting UAE licences, then you can order it up to three months before you travel. Remember, though, it is valid for 12 months from the date of issue, so if you’re spending some time abroad then it may be wise to order it as close as possible to your departure date, so that your IDP doesn’t expire while you’re still abroad.

Don’t forget that you’ll need to make sure that you have insurance to drive, and that the car is correctly maintained according to the country’s regulations (such as having a valid MOT in the UK). You may also need to produce an IDP if you are hiring a car abroad, as it will act as a proof of ID in the same way as a passport or official ID card.