Driving in the EU and green cards

With travel abroad beginning to open up once again, it’s worth remembering that the regulations have changed with regards to driving abroad.

As the UK has now formally left the European Union and the Transition Period has ended, UK motor insurance customers driving in the European Union, European Economic Area, Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland will need physical proof of motor insurance when they travel, commonly referred to as a Green Card.

Although some motor policies include an overseas extension, this will only provide you with the minimum legal cover required, similar to third party only cover and would not cover you for loss or damage to your own vehicle. There may also be restrictions on the countries this extension covers.

Green Cards

A green card is a physical document that acts as evidence that the minimum legal motor insurance cover required is in force for the country being visited – or driven through – whilst driving outside of the UK. And it’s not enough to have a scanned or electronic copy of your green card – you need to have a printed copy with you (although this no longer needs to be printed on green paper).

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.

If you are taking your vehicle to the EU for less than 12 months, you should carry one of the following documents with you:

  • your vehicle log book (V5C), if you have one
  • a VE103 to show you’re allowed to use your hired or leased vehicle abroad

We are happy to help our clients obtain a Green Card. Please contact us well in advance of your planned travel – at least two weeks – to ensure that the Green Card is issued in time for your departure. We will need to know where you’re travelling to and for how long.

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.
You do not need an international driving permit (IDP) to visit and drive in the EU, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein. You might need an IDP to drive in some EU countries and Norway if you have:

  • a paper driving licence
  • a licence that was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man

Check if you need an IDP.

You will not need an IDP to drive when visiting Ireland if you have a UK driving licence.

GB stickers and number plates

You do not need a GB sticker if your number plate includes the GB identifier on its own or with the Union flag (also known as the Union Jack).

You do not need to display a GB sticker to drive in Ireland.

You must display a GB sticker clearly on the rear of your vehicle if your number plate has any of the following:

  • a Euro symbol
  • a national flag of England, Scotland or Wales
  • numbers and letters only – no flag or identifier

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

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 private 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 Gov.uk 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.

FOCUS Oxford Risk Management

FOCUS Oxford Risk Management Ltd are experts in providing bespoke insurance, mortgage and protection solutions.

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