Want to drive in Brasil? Grab your licence and get ready for a history lesson.

Cast your mind back to 1926. The world was a different place back then. Al Capone was running the streets of Chicago. Winnie the Pooh was just published. Lufthansa was a brand new airline in Weimar Germany. That April, an international convention was signed in Paris, regulating traffic laws in the signatory countries. A follow-up convention held under the auspices of the recently-formed United Nations was held in 1949.

signatory page
Thanks Mr. Guimaraes

Most countries in the world have ratified the 1949 convention, but, sadly, not Brasil! Along with Iraq, Nigeria and Somalia, the only countries that signed up in 1926 but “forgot” to upgrade their ratifications 23 years later.

So, what does this mean, practically?

Within the EU and EEA area, an Irish driving licence is automatically accepted once the driver is of the legal age and has no restrictions.

Outside this area, one must apply to the AA, to get a 1949 IDP (International driving permit) that’s valid for one year. If you want to drive in Brasil, Iraq, Nigeria, or Somalia, you’ll need to additionally apply for the 1926 version, and pay the princely sum of €20 for the privilege of both. That gets you one year of worry-free driving, and a fancy little booklet you can show your friends. Remember those old war movies where spies would be demanded “Show me your papers!”. It looks a little like that.


Plus the 1926 version has a handy list of signatory nations that no longer exist, like Tangier (Now in Morocco), Dantzig (now Gdansk, in Poland), the French coast of Somaliland, and both Southern and Northern Rhodesia! (Now Zimbabwe and Zambia).


But most importantly, that list includes Brasil. I’m almost hoping I get checked by the Polícia here just to get the chance to use it.