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Driving in Europe: The Brexit Edition

Driving in Europe: The Brexit Edition

If the UK leaves the European Union (EU) without a deal, drivers will need to beware! There are a number of things which could affect their ability to drive legally on the continent after the Brexit deadline.

Driving licences and International Driving Permits (IDPs)

Currently, UK drivers only need a full UK driving licence to be allowed to hire a car or drive their own within the EU.

That could end after Brexit, in which case they will need what’s known as an International Driving Permit (IDP) in addition to their UK licence.

These can be purchased from many post offices around the country and cost £5.50 and are valid for one to three years depending on which country or countries the driver intends to be in.

Expats living in the EU might have to get a local driving licence for the area and country they’re living in, and, in all likelihood, have to pass a driving test in that country to apply for one.

Driving insurance

As with driving licences, at present you only need to take the same documentation you have in the UK with you when driving in the EU, but you shouldn’t need any special additional insurance.

However, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, you’ll also need a ‘Green Card’.

At the moment, Britain is part of a zone which covers all countries in the European Economic Area, but after Brexit it’s likely the Green Card will be needed as proof of insurance in the UK.

If you do not carry a Green Card in any country where it is required, you may be accused of driving without insurance, and could be subject to a fine, having your vehicle seized, or prosecution.

Green Cards can be obtained from your motor insurer, but a month’s notice is usually required.

National identifiers

Currently, you need to display a ‘GB’ sticker on your car if driving within the EU. This could also be printed on your number plate.

In a no-deal Brexit scenario, those cars with a ‘Euro-plate’, which displays both the EU flat and a GB sign, may also have to have a sticker slapped on their car. Those with number plates only displaying the GB sign and not the EU flag won’t.

Accident claims

At present, drivers involved in crashes within the EU can make insurance claims via a UK-claims representative or the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB).

After Brexit, it’s possible that any claim can only be made in the EU or EEA country the accident occurred. If the driver being claimed against is uninsured, or untraceable, it’s likely no compensation will be paid to UK drivers.


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Published 18th February 2019