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Overseas car insurance

Your Australian car insurance won't cover you while driving overseas and your licence might not be valid anyway. But, there are still ways to protect yourself.

Planning on driving overseas? It's important to have a licence which is recognised by your destination country and adequate insurance to cover any incidents.

However, an Australian driver’s licence might not be enough and it's unlikely that your current car insurance will offer protection while you're overseas.

What's in this guide?

  • Getting a valid licence
  • Getting an International Driving Permit
  • Getting overseas car insurance
  • Travelling overseas with your own car

Getting a valid licence

The first step to getting overseas car insurance is to make sure you have a valid licence. In many cases, you can do this by getting an International Driving Permit.

An International Driving Permit (IDP) translates your current Australian licence into 9 languages and is recognised in 98% of countries.

Many countries will not allow you to rent a car if you do not have an IDP. If you're found to be driving without one, you may be subject to fines or penalties.

Getting an International Driving Permit (IDP)

To be eligible for an IDP, you must be over 18 and hold a provisional (P1 or P2) or full (unrestricted) licence. Interim licences are not accepted. Once you have an IDP, they're valid for 12 months.

You can apply for an IDP through the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) or its affiliates, including NRMA, RACV, RACQ, RAA and RAC. If you're in NSW, you can apply for an IDP at your local Service NSW centre.

IDPs are used in conjunction with your licence, so you'll still need to take your Australian licence with you.

Which countries require an International Driving Permit?

An International Driving Permit is accepted in over 98% of countries, including Croatia, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Singapore and Sweden. It's also recommended in many countries, including Italy, the UK and the US. Some rental car companies in these countries will require an IDP.

  • Check this registry to see which countries require or accept an International Driving Permit.

Getting overseas car insurance

Rental car insurance. If you're renting a car, the rental company usually requires you to have adequate insurance and will often organise this for you. In many cases, it's included in the price of the rental. However, this insurance can come come with a high excess, which means you may have to pay several thousand dollars towards a claim. Consider taking out additional rental car excess insurance or buying a travel insurance policy which includes rental car excess insurance. This will cover the cost of the excess for you, if your rental car is damaged.

Existing car insurance. If you're borrowing a car from a friend or relative, you may be covered by their existing insurance policy. Always contact the insurer directly to check. If you're not covered, you may be able to add your name to the policy for an additional fee.

Temporary car insurance. Some overseas insurers offer policies specifically designed for international visitors. Some useful search terms include:

- Specialist car insurance in (your destination country)
- Temporary car insurance in (your destination county)
- Car insurance for IDP holders in (your destination country)
- Car insurance for non-residents in (your destination country)

You may need to work with a specialist broker or underwriter. For example, ERS specialises in insuring high-value cars temporarily visiting the UK.

If you plan on driving through multiple countries, check your insurance is valid in all of these countries.

Travelling overseas with your own car

If you're taking your own car overseas and it's registered in Australia, you'll likely need a Carnet de Passages en Douane.

The Carnet de Passages en Douane, or CPD Carnet, refers to customs documents which cover the temporary admission of motor vehicles to foreign countries.

Pronounced car-nay, the documents are essentially a passport for your car. They're valid for 12 months and let drivers temporarily import their vehicles for touring purposes only. It means you don't have to pay customs duties and other taxes that would apply to a permanent move.

You'll also need to arrange temporary overseas car insurance.


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Written by

Andrew Munro

Andrew Munro was the global cryptocurrency editor at Finder. During his time he covered all aspects of cryptocurrency and the blockchain. Before he became cryptocurrency editor, he was a content writer for Finder covering various topics over his nearly 5 years in the role. Prior to joining Finder he was a web copywriter. Andrew has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New South Wales. See full profile

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4 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    JohnMarch 29, 2019

    I am from Australia traveling around Europe, I brought a car in England and would like to insure it in Europe. Can you help.

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiMarch 30, 2019

      Hi John,

      Thanks for getting in touch!

      While you are using your car in Europe, you would need international car insurance and you can get find them from the European car insurance providers.

      Aside from this, you would need an international driver’s permit and you can get them from the Australian Automobile Association. The last thing you need is a Carnet – which serves like your car’s passport and you can find information on how to get a carnet on the information above.

      As a friendly reminder, carefully review the Product Disclosure Statement of the product before applying. You may also contact the insurance provider should you have any questions about their policy.


    Default Gravatar
    PeterMay 5, 2018

    My wife and I will be travelling to Italy in a couple of weeks. We will be staying with friends and borrowing their car to drive around in. We will be away for a period of 7 weeks. Both of us have Australian and IDP’s licenses. No accidents in last 10 yrs. Both over 60 yrs of age.
    Third Party Ins is compulsory in Italy and they have it. However, it does not cover repairs to the car we borrow and I would like to obtain this type of cover if possible. The insurer in Italy does not offer this kind of cover – only Third Party. Our Travel Ins company (Covermore) do not provide it. Neither do a number of other Australian insurers I have spoken to. I am seeking advice as to whom I can get such cover from, even if it means taking out a fully comprehensive policy. Any suggestions about who to turn to?

      JeniMay 6, 2018Finder

      Hi Peter,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      I understand that you are looking to get a car hire excess insurance Although we don’t provide specific recommendations or suggestions, our page about rental car insurance excess might help. You may use the table for your reference on which provider offers car hire excess insurance in Australia. You can compare them in terms of international or domestic cover, eligible driver age, features, and starting price per day.

      You may click the company name to be redirected to our review page and read further details about how they work including their coverage. Once you are ready, just click the ‘Get quote’ button and request a quote from the main page of the insurance provider.

      As a friendly reminder, please ensure that you read the insurer’s Product Disclosure Statement or Terms & Conditions for additional information before taking out a policy and consider whether it is right for you.

      I hope this helps.

      Have a great day!


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