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Green Cards – an update on driving in the EU after Brexit

Although the UK formally left the European Union on 31 January 2020, uncertainty remains regarding whether a Free Trade Agreement will be agreed and ratified following the end of the Transition Period on 31 December 2020.

If no agreement is reached then UK motorists driving in the European Economic Area (EEA), as well as in Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland, on or after 1 January 2021 will be required to carry physical proof of motor insurance when they travel – commonly referred to as a Green Card.

To make sure you are prepared for this eventuality, we have provided a quick update below with everything you need to know. For more information, read our previous guide: Driving in the EU after Brexit – what you need to know

Green Card after Brexit

What is a Green Card?

A Green Card is a physical document that acts as evidence that you hold the minimum legal motor insurance cover required for the country you are visiting.

 

When is a Green Card required?

If a deal that removes the need for a Green Card is not agreed, you will need one in any of the following circumstances:

  • If you are travelling in the EEA, Andorra, Serbia and/or Switzerland and will return on or before 31 December 2020 then you will not require a Green Card.
  • If you are travelling in the EEA, Andorra, Serbia and/or Switzerland on or after 1 January 2021 then you will require a Green Card to prove that you have the required insurance, regardless of the level of cover provided on your policy. This rule will apply even if you have a foreign use extension on your current policy.
  • You will also require a Green Card if you are driving from Northern Ireland to Ireland.
  • For those travelling with caravans or trailers you must have two Green Cards issued – one for the caravan/trailer and one for the towing vehicle. The Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Act 2018 came into force from 28 March 2019, which means drivers must register any trailer weighing over 3500kg and any commercial trailer weighing over 750kg before towing them abroad.

 

What will happen if I travel without a Green Card?

If you travel without a Green Card it is highly likely that you will not be allowed to cross the border or gain access onto a ferry. If you are allowed to continue your journey but are then stopped and held at the roadside without the necessary paperwork you could be fined and have your vehicle impounded.

 

Will my driving licence be valid to drive in the EU after 1 January 2021?

In the event of a ‘no deal’, the Department for Transport has said that drivers may need to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) in order to drive in the EU. This would need to presented in conjunction with your UK driving licence.

IDP’s cost £5.50 and are available over the counter at any Post Office. To find out more, visit: https://www.gov.uk/driving-abroad/get-an-idp

It is important to note that there are difference types of IDP depending on which country you will be driving in:

  • A 1949 Convention IDP covers these EU countries: Spain, Malta and Cyprus
  • A 1968 Convention IDP covers all other EU countries as well as Norway and Switzerland
  • A 1926 Convention IDP is required for driving in Liechtenstein

An IDP is not currently required to drive in the Republic of Ireland as long as you hold a valid UK driving licence.

If you have any questions or require any more information regarding Green Cards and IDPs, contact us now.