With Brexit a little over a month away there’s still a huge amount of uncertainty around whether a deal on Britain’s exit from the EU will be reached.
For drivers that translates into uncertainty about what they will need to do to drive legally on the continent after March 29.
The details of any possible deal are vague but a no-deal scenario is expected to have the biggest effect on drivers so here’s what we know about its likely impact.
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the current mutual recognition of driving licences between the UK and EU is expected to end. That will mean that British and Northern Irish driving licences will no longer be valid in Europe without additional documentation.
It means UK visitors will need additional permits and any British expats living in Europe will need to obtain a local driving licence.
Until March 29, expats can apply to exchange their GB or NI licence for one in their country of residence. After March 29, they will have to sit the driving test in that country in order to obtain a valid licence.
International Driving Permits
If the mutual recognition of licences ends, UK drivers visiting Europe will need at least one International Driving Permit (IDP).
The permits were previously available via 89 Post Offices, the AA and the RAC. Since earlier this year they have been available from around 2,500 Post Offices but not from any other organisation.
They cost £5.50 and are valid for between one and three years, depending on they type required.
There are three IDPs, each only valid in certain European countries.
- 1949 Convention IDP: This is for UK licence holders wishing to drive in Spain, Malta, Cyprus or Iceland
- 1968 Convention IDP: People visiting any other EU country, or Norway or Switzerland will require this type of permit
- 1926 Convention: For those travelling to Liechtenstein
Only the Republic of Ireland does not require foreign drivers to carry an IDP
In some cases travellers may need more than one IDP. For example, somebody driving through France and then on to Spain will need both a 1949 and a 1968 IDP.
You will not need any additional insurance to drive in Europe after Brexit.
However, in the event of a no-deal Brexit you may need a Green Card in addition to your regular insurance documents.
Britain is currently part of a Green-Card-free circulation zone with all the countries within the European Economic Area (EEA) as well as Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland. This means all UK drivers with insurance are automatically covered to drive there.
After Brexit, the UK will cease to be part of this zone and drivers will have to carry a Green Card as proof of cover.
Green Cards can be obtained from your insurer. Currently there is no charge for this but the Government has warned some insurers could start asking for a fee. You should allow a month’s notice before your trip when applying for one.
This affects anyone planning to take their vehicle to Europe after March 29, including businesses, holiday makers and anyone travelling between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
You may also need separate Green Cards for your car and any trailer.
If you are involved in a crash or road incident after a no-deal Brexit the Government says you should not expect to be able to make a claim via a UK-based claims representative or the UK Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB).
Instead, UK residents involved in a road incident may need to bring a claim against either the driver or the insurer of the vehicle in the EU or EEA country where the accident happened. This may involve bringing the claim in the local language.
In the event of an accident caused by an uninsured or an untraced driver, UK residents may not receive compensation if there is a no-deal Brexit. This will vary from country to country.
Number plates and national identifiers
Under international conventions, you should already display a GB sign on your car when driving outside of the UK.
This can appear as a sticker or a GB sign on your number plate.
Under a no-deal Brexit, from March 29, if your vehicle has a “Euro-plate” displaying both the EU flag and a GB sign you may also need a GB sticker.
You will not need a GB sticker if you replace a Euro-plate with a number plate that features the GB sign without the EU flag.