Why did I need an international permit to collect a hire car in Spain?

I hired a car through InterRent in Spain for collection in Jerez but the company refused to give it to me when I handed over my old-fashioned paper driving licence.

It said I needed an international driving permit (IDP) to go with it.

In the small print of my voucher there was a clause that said an “international driver’s licence is mandatory for non-EU driving licence holders and must be presented with an original driver’s licence”.

I expect this may just be enforced for paper licences but it may be down to the individual rental office.

In the end things worked out as I had booked through a broker and, after some back and forth, it refunded me as the confirmation email stated clearly that the documents required were a passport and driving licence.

I have done some research with other car rental companies, and got different answers about what kind of licence they would require.

I’m going to update my paper licence as soon as is practical and, in the meantime, get an international driving permit for when I travel abroad.

JM, by email

An international driving permit is an official, multi-language translation of your driving licence and, according to the government website, you do not need one to drive in Spain, provided the trip is for less than six months.

After encountering this problem you approached a number of other rental firms to ask their requirements and some warned they would not accept your paper licence, and wanted either a photocard or IDP.

In its terms and conditions, InterRent says a licence without a photo “would not be considered as a valid licence … therefore, it will request the international permit”.

In 2015 the paper counterpart to the photocard driving licence was abolished but paper licences issued before 31 March 2000 are still valid.

The AA advises you might need an IDP in some EU countries if you still have a paper driving licence (or your licence was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man). If you are hiring a car abroad, check with the firm before you go to avoid a stressful situation at the airport. If you’re not sure, get an IDP just in case. They cost £5.50 and are available at a post office.

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