Brexit and driving in Europe from 1 January 2021

The United Kingdom (UK) left the European Union (EU) on 31st January 2020 with a Withdrawal Agreement and subsequently entered into a transitional period which ended on 31st December 2020. The UK Government has announced that discussions with the EU to agree the terms of the future relationship between the two have been successful, and a trade deal has been confirmed. However, not all of the details are fully known.

Your motor insurance remains valid for travel outside of the UK on or after 1 January 2021 but there are some important points you need to be aware of.

Green Cards & Log Book (V5C)

If you’re taking your own vehicle, you will need to carry a green card when driving abroad.

A Green Card is an international certificate of insurance that proves that a UK motorist has the required third party insurance to drive within the EU. It proves that the driver is suitably insured to drive in these countries. The driver needs to have a physical copy of the Green Card when travelling, as digital copies are not currently accepted. If customers arrive at the border without a physical Green Card, they will not be allowed to drive in that country. However, as of July 2020, their Green Card no longer has to be printed on green paper. A black and white copy is now acceptable.

Brexit and driving in Europe from 1 January 2021
Brexit and driving in Europe from 1 January 2021

It is important to note that where a trailer or caravan is being towed, a separate Green Card is required for the towing vehicle and the trailer/caravan: so two Green Cards would be required whenever a trailer or caravan is being towed.

Green Cards can be obtained directly from your motor insurance provider – many of whom now have a dedicated web portal set up for requesting these.

You should also carry your vehicle log book (V5C document) with you when driving. If the original has been lost, damaged or destroyed, then you will need to obtain a replacement from the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

GB Stickers

Your vehicle (and any caravan/trailer being towed) must display a GB sticker if your number plate doesn’t include the required GB identifier.

International Driving Permit (IDP)

It may also be necessary for you to carry an IDP from 1 January 2021. The type of permit you may need will depend upon which country you’re visiting and/or how long you’re staying. There are three types of IDP which can be purchased from the Post Office for £5.50 – you will need a valid GB or Northern Ireland driving licence to get and IDP.

Business Travel

There are extra actions you will need to take if you’re travelling to the EU for business. Business travel includes activities such as travelling for meetings and conferences, providing services (even with a charity), and touring art or music.

Full details including information on visa/work permits, professional qualifications and earning money whilst in the EU can be found here.

Other changes to be aware of when visiting Europe

Check your passport expiry date as you may need to renew it earlier than planned. If you’re travelling to an EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, on the day of travel your passport will need to be less than 10 years old and have at 6 months left before it expires. These rules do not apply to travel to Ireland.

If you have an existing European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will be valid if you’re travelling to an EU country, but you should look to have travel insurance in place as well.

You are not able to take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries – although there are some exceptions for powdered baby milk, baby food products or pet food required for medical reasons.

There are also updates to the rules on taking pets with you – and you should allow at least 1 month to arrange the required Animal Health Certificate (AHC) as the existing pet passport scheme can no longer be used.

For further details on all of the above, please visit the website.

If you have specific questions relating to your motor insurance or insurance on an overseas property located in the EU, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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