International driving permits
Have you got yours yet? Or are you still hoping that Brexit won't happen at the end of March and touring Europe won't be affected?
Well, the Post Office is ready for Brexit, with plenty of International Driving Permits. As I need an IDP for my Big Stupid Trip of a Lifetime, I thought I'd get all my bases covered and nipped out at lunchtime.
First things first, don't just go to your local Post Office. Not every branch can issue them - you'll need to check which one near you can supply an IDP (you can find out on the Post Office website). All you then need is a passport photo (of yourself, obviously) and your actual passport, your driving licence and the £5.50 fee. No forms to fill in – just rock up at the counter and the staff can sort it all out for you. Simple.
Well, simple if you need one. Turns out, the IDP comes in three flavours – and you need to know which one to have for different countries. Basically, driving abroad is covered by one of three conventions: a 1926 version for Lichtenstein, Somalia and Mexico; a 1949 one for most of the developing world (but also apparently Canada); and a 1968 one, covering everywhere else – including most of Europe apart from Lichtenstein.
Of course, that means I need two out of three to do the BSTL: 1926 for Mexico; 1949 for most of the rest of South America. I decided that I might as well get one of each flavour as well, just to be on the safe side: if I want to nip to Switzerland or Luxembourg before setting off – to enjoy one last European ride before going to the other side of the Atlantic – I'd need a 1968 one anyway. Plus there's a little bit of me that quite liked the completeness of having the full set. Despite it costing £16.50.
So there we go: another planning hurdle cleared. Now I just need to remember which IDP to hand over at which border…