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Driving in the EU after Brexit – what you need to know

Although the UK formally left the EU on 31 January 2020, the Government has agreed a transition period that is due to last until the end of 2020. This means businesses and motorists are not required to take immediate action as all EU laws and regulations continue to apply in the UK during the transition period. Therefore there is currently no need to carry a Green Card when driving to the EU, the EEA, Switzerland, Serbia and Andorra.

However, what comes after the 31 December 2020 is yet to be agreed as we await the outcome of negotiations between the UK and EU regarding our future relationship. To help you and your business better prepare for the coming changes, we have outlined some of the potential requirements for driving in the EU below.

 

woman in car driving

Green Card

A motor insurance Green Card is used as a quick way to demonstrate that you have adequate cover in place to drive in Europe. After the UK has fully left the EU at the end of 2020, it is possible that all UK drivers will be required to carry a Green Card when driving in Europe.

If you plan to take a Commercial Trailer weighing over 750kg or a non-commercial trailer weighing over 3,500kg it’s also likely to require a separate Green Card and need to be registered with the government before travel.

Green Cards are generally free to obtain but some insurers may charge an administration fee – all you need to do is contact your insurance company and request one – but you should apply for it at least 14 days before you are due to drive in the EU to make sure they have time to issue it.

 

International Driving Permit

For the time being, a UK driving licence is still valid when driving in countries that are members of the European Economic Area. However, this could change following the transition period and drivers using cars in EU countries could be required to apply for and carry International Driving Permits as well as their UK licences.

International Driving Permits (IDPs) can be purchased at main Post Office branches for £5.50, and there are three different types used in the EU – so depending on which country you will be driving in you could need:

  • 1949 IDP – Malta, Spain, Cyprus and Ireland*. This is valid for 12 months.
  • 1968 IDP – For driving through or in all other EU countries. This is valid for three years, or until the expiry of your driving licence (whichever is sooner).
  • 1926 IDP – Liechtenstein. This is only required if you will be driving in or through Liechtenstein.

*Please note: In January 2019 the UK Government confirmed that there would be no need for an IDP to drive in Ireland after Brexit.

 

gb sticker on car

GB car sticker

If you are taking your own UK-registered car abroad, then you are required by law to display a GB sticker while driving in any of the 27 EU countries – which includes the Republic of Ireland.

Currently, this is only a requirement if your vehicle does not have the blue EU registration plates that include the ‘GB’ initials, but when the UK leaves the EU drivers will need a separate sticker even if they already have the ‘GB’ number plate.

As the transition period is set to run until 31 December 2020, there is no need to take any action yet regarding driving in the EU. However, as negotiations between the UK and EU progress things could change and new requirements could be in place by the end of the year.

Mathew Kiff, Transport and Logistics at BHIB, said:

“Following Brexit it’s business as usual as far as driving in the EU is concerned, as the rules and regulations remain unchanged during the transition period. However, it is worthwhile being aware of the potential changes that could apply if a deal isn’t agreed”.