Driving in the EU after Brexit

There are some changes in the rules around driving in the European Union (EU), and EU nationals driving in the United Kingdom (UK), now that the UK has left the EU. Here’s what you need to know.

Will my motor insurance policy continue to be valid in the EU/EEA?

During the implementation period up until the 31 December 2020 you will continue to be able to use your UK driving licence to drive in countries in the European Economic Area (EEA). This is all EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

This means that pretty much everything will stay the same until the end of the year. So, UK licences will still be valid for visiting EEA countries during transition.

If you’re driving a UK-registered and insured vehicle with a fully comprehensive UK motor insurance policy, you will continue to have at least third-party motor insurance cover for travel to EU or European Economic Area (EEA) countries. Some motor insurance policies may offer continuation of your comprehensive motor insurance policy in the EU or EEA. We advise checking the terms of your cover with your insurance provider before travelling.

If you’re taking your own vehicle, you also need to take your log book (V5C) and your insurance certificate.

What happens after the implementation period will be determined by the future relationship the UK has with the EU. There will be specific arrangements in place for each country. You can check what these are from the government website.

Driving in the EU or EAA after 31 December 2020

After the implementation ends in December 2020, you’ll need to carry an insurance green card when driving in the EU, EEA and all other countries that recognise green cards. These can take from a week to a month to process and are usually provided free of charge from your insurer. Check with your provider how long it will take and if there is a cost.

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.

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.

You may also need to put 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.

Will my driving licence still be valid for driving in the EU and EEA and will I need any other permits?

During the implementation period up until 31 December 2020 you will continue to be able to use your UK driving licence to drive in countries in the European Economic Area (EEA). This is all EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

UK drivers may also need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in the EU and EEA. These can be bought at Post Offices.

The permit you may need depends on:

  • which country you’re visiting
  • how long you’re staying.

You do not need an IDP to drive in any EU and EEA country, or Switzerland, for stays of up to 12 months during the implementation period.

You may need an international driving permit (IDP) if you’re going to drive outside the EU.

The rules for driving abroad may change after 31 December 2020.

An IDP currently costs £5.50. You’ll need to find out if you need an IDP for the country you want to visit. If you’re travelling through more than one country, you might need more than one type of IDP. You may also need an IDP if you’re planning to hire a car. It’s advisable to check this with your car hire company.

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.

If you’re driving through multiple countries which require different types of IDP – for example, if you’re visiting both France and Spain – you’ll need to get both types of permit, meaning you would pay £11 in total.

Do not apply for an IDP if you’re moving abroad. You’ll need to either exchange your UK licence for a local one or apply for a new one in the country you’re moving to.

Along with the above, you may also need to put 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.

I’m a UK national living in an EU country, what happens to my UK driving licence?

If you are resident in an EU country you will need to exchange your driving licence for a local one. The deadline for doing this depends on which country you live in.

This could mean needing to retake your driving test in the EU country you live in to be able to carry on driving there.

Will I need to carry any additional paperwork when driving in the EU?

You’ll need to carry an insurance green card when driving in the EU, EEA and all other countries that recognise green cards. These can take from a week to a month to process and are usually provided free of charge from your insurer. Check with your provider how long it will take.

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.

You also need to check you have the right international driving permit (IDP) for the countries you’re driving through – you might need more than one IDP.

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.

If you’re taking your own vehicle, you also need to take your log book (V5C) and your insurance certificate.

You may also need to put 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.

Find out more about insurance when driving abroad after Brexit on the GOV.uk or Money Advice Service website.

If I’m towing a trailer or caravan, will I need a separate green card for the trailer?

Yes, some EEA and EU countries require a separate green card as proof of insurance for your trailer, including caravans. If you’re travelling with a trailer, contact your insurance provider to get two green cards: one for the towing vehicle, and one for the trailer.

I’m an EU national living in the UK, what happens to my EU driving licence?

EU issued driving licences will continue to be valid in the UK.

The UK expects drivers coming from the EU into the UK to carry an insurance green card, or evidence of their insurance cover.

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