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Mon, 21/12/2020
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What Are The Rules On Driving In The EU After The Brexit Transition?

As we approach the end of the Brexit transition period on 31st December 2020, it’s important to be aware of the changes that will come into play on 1st January and how they will affect the way people from the UK can drive in Europe. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know.

Although talks are ongoing between the UK and EU during the Brexit transition phase, there’s a chance you might need to make some changes to be able to drive in the EU after 31st December 2020. Please continue to get up to date information at and check any relevant documentation where necessary.

What Documents Do You Need To Travel In Europe?

Until 31st December 2020, you will need:

  • Your Certificate of Motor Insurance if you drive in the EU. This has details of your insurance cover that you'll need to provide if you have an accident.
  • At least six months on your passport.

From 1st January 2021, you will need:

A Green Card.

  • Your Certificate of Motor Insurance.
  • The logbook (V5C) for the vehicle.
  • An International Driving Permit (IDP), whether you’re hiring a car or driving your own.
  • A GB sticker on your vehicle, even if it already has a Euro plate, which is a number plate displaying both the EU flag and a GB sign. You won’t need a GB sticker to drive outside the UK if you swap a Euro plate with a number plate that only has a GB sign and not the EU flag.

It is always best to read the latest Government advice for any changes or updates.

What Is A Green Card?

Under the European Union 2009 motor insurance directive, any vehicle legally insured in one EU country can be driven between other European nations on the same policy. However, from 1st January, you are very likely to need a Green Card. Insurers will generally provide them free of charge, but will require around a month’s notice.

The Green Card (or International Motor Insurance Card) is a document that shows that you have the minimum insurance cover needed by law in the country you're visiting. The green card is only proof of a minimum level of third-party cover, so it will not necessarily match the level of cover that you pay for in the UK. 

We advise that you check with your insurer to find out what level of cover you would receive.

It’s possible you'll need a Green Card to drive in the following countries after 31st December 2020:

  • Countries in the European Union (EU)
  • Countries in the European Economic Area (EEA)
  • Andorra
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Serbia
  • Switzerland

If you are planning on taking a trailer or caravan on your travels, you will need separate green cards for them.

If you’re driving a vehicle that is registered and insured in your host country, such as a local rental car, you won’t need a green card.

Green cards typically last for up to 90 days. If you’re driving on a separate trip in a country that recognises green cards, you’ll need to get another one from your insurer.

We don't yet know for sure whether you will actually need a green card from 2021, but keep your eyes peeled for an announcement before the end of 2020 if you are planning to travel. As always, if you are unsure of anything related to your policy, check with your insurer.

What Is An International Driving Permit (IDP)?

An International Driving Permit (IDP) is an official, multi-language translation of your driving licence. It’s currently required in certain countries outside the EU but it is also likely to be needed within the EU from 2021.

The permit you may need depends on which country you’re visiting and how long you plan on staying. You also need to check you have the right IDP for the countries you’re driving through – you might need more than one.

There are two different types of IDP you might need in Europe, known as the 1949 and 1968 IDPs:

  • The 1949 permit covers any visits to Cyprus and Andorra and longer trips to Ireland, Spain, Iceland and Malta.
  • The 1968 permit covers driving in all other EU countries that require IDPs, plus Norway and Switzerland.

You can apply for an IDP at your local Post Office if you are 18 years old or above and have a valid UK driving licence.

The government is involved with negotiations about this and has promised more details later in 2020. You can read the current position here.

Do I Have To Take Another Driving Test To Drive In Europe?

IDPs apply only for visiting other countries. EU and EEA licences will continue to be accepted in the UK for visitors and residents. 

However, if you are a UK licence-holder living in another EU country, then you may need to exchange your UK licence for one issued by that country. In some countries, this may mean needing to take another driving test.

The government has issued specific advice for each country.

Do You Need To Make Any Motoring Changes Due To Brexit?

What happens after the transition period will be determined by the future relationship between the UK and the EU. There will be specific arrangements in place for each country. As and when these updates happen, all the latest information should be on the or Money Advice Service website.

We advise checking the terms of your cover with your insurance provider before travelling. Should you have any questions regarding any of our insurers’ approaches to Green Cards, please don’t hesitate to contact them directly.