Driving in Europe after Brexit

All you need to know about your Green Card

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Now the UK has left the EU, there are some important changes you need to be aware of if you plan to drive abroad. Our guide explains what you need to know, including what a Green Card is, why you’ll need it and how you can get one.

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What has changed in regard to driving in Europe after Brexit?

UK drivers can still cross the border into Europe – including driving into the Republic of Ireland. However you will now need to get a Green Card from your insurer, and be able to produce it when asked by the relevant authorities.

What is a Green Card?

A Green Card is an international certificate of insurance – a physical document that you must take with you when driving through the European Economic Area (EEA) as well as Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Switzerland. A full list of the EEA countries can be found on the Government website.

In addition to the Green Card, drivers should always carry their licence too.

Do I need a Green Card?

Yes. If you are driving outside the UK then you need to contact your insurance provider to send you a Green Card before you travel. You’ll need to take a hard copy – either an original or print-out.

How do I apply for a Green Card?

You should contact your insurance provider, who will post you a Green Card. It’s recommended you apply six weeks before you travelling, and allow more time if demand is likely to be high.

If your insurer sends your Green Card through email or instructs you to download a copy, you’ll need to print it off – presenting a digital version is not enough.

If you print a copy, the information must be clear and readable. The acceptable size of paper is minimum of A6 to a maximum of A4 – and the back page should be blank.

The Green Card must also be printed in black text on plain white paper, or you can use green paper (with black text). No other colour will be valid.

What do I need to apply for a Green Card?

Your insurance provider will need to know:

  • Your policy number
  • Your name, address and vehicle registration
  • Your travel dates
  • Whether you’ll be towing a trailer or caravan (some countries require the vehicle being towed to have its own Green Card).

You don’t need to provide details of where you’re travelling to unless you’re planning to drive outside the countries covered by a Green Card.

What countries do I need a Green Card for?

You need a Green Card for driving through the EU nations, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Serbia.

How long does a Green Card last?

Green Cards are usually valid for 15 days, but your insurer may be able to extend it if you plan on staying abroad for longer. Let them know when you apply.

How much does a Green Card cost?

Some insurers state they do not charge for issuing a Green Card, but it’s worth checking with your own provider to see if there is an administration fee.

What should I do if I need to travel at short notice?

If you need to drive abroad at short notice, you can either:

  • Contact your insurer and explain the urgency to see if they can email you a Green Card as soon as possible. You’ll then need to print it off
  • Hire a car in the country you’re visiting and arrange local insurance cover

Will drivers in Northern Ireland need a Green Card?

You won’t need a Green Card to drive in Northern Ireland. However, some insurers in Northern Ireland are automatically issuing Green Cards to their customers who are residents because they are likely to frequently cross the Irish border into the Republic.

Will one Green Card cover me for all my cars?

No – for each vehicle you drive you need a separate Green Card. If you are towing, you may also require separate Green Cards for the caravan or trailer (as well as separate insurance in some cases).

What happens if my insurance renews while I’m driving abroad?

It’s best to compare prices and set up a new policy before you travel – you can then arrange a Green Card to run alongside.

You will generally be able to arrange for a policy to start 30 days in advance.

Will my Green Card cover me to hire or borrow a car in the EU?

You shouldn’t need to apply for a separate Green Card if you’re hiring a car in the EU. The insurance that comes with the car from the rental company should cover you.

Do I need a GB sticker on my vehicle?

You don’t need a GB sticker if your number plate has UK identification. However, you will need to display a GB sticker clearly on the rear of your vehicle if your number plate has a Euro symbol, a national flag of England, Scotland or Wales or numbers and letters only (with no flag or identifier)

If you’re driving your car in Spain, Cyprus or Malta, you must display a GB sticker no matter what is on your number plate.

What happens if I don’t have a Green Card when driving abroad?

If you can’t produce a Green Card when asked by the authorities, you’re likely to be fined and will be at risk of having your vehicle seized.

You may need to show your Green Card and proof of insurance at border crossings, when moving between EU and EEA countries or during police checks.

Do I need to carry a physical copy of my Green Card?

Yes, you should keep a physical copy of your Green Card along with your driving licence in a safe place, so you can produce it when asked while you are travelling.

Do I need anything else to drive in Europe now that the UK has left the EU?

Depending on where you are travelling and the type of licence you hold, you may also need additional documentation.

If you have a paper driving licence or one that was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man, you may need an international driving permit (IDP) to visit certain EU countries and Norway.

The Post Office sells IDPs for £5.50 and they can only be issued to drivers who are aged 18 or over, residents of Great Britain or Northern Ireland and have full UK driving licences.

The golden rule is to check with your insurance company.

How can I find cheaper car insurance?

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