Travelling after Brexit October update

Travelling after Brexit October update

Brexit – what does it mean for my travel abroad?

Uncertainty remains on whether the UK leaves the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement (a ‘no-deal Brexit’). If this happens, UK motor insurance customers driving in the European Economic Area, Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland will need physical proof of motor insurance when they travel, commonly referred to as a Green Card.

What is the Green Card and why do I need it?

The Green Card is an internationally accepted physical document which proves that you have valid insurance to drive your car abroad. If there is a no-deal EU exit, it will be illegal for UK motorists to drive in Europe without it, whether travelling for business or pleasure, regardless of whether your policy provides the foreign travel cover extension.

Where can I drive with it?

The Green Card system currently comprises 47 countries. This includes all European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) countries, Switzerland, Russia and other members in the Middle East and surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. You may also need it if travelling from the UK including Northern Ireland to Republic of Ireland.

How do I apply for a Green Card?

Responsibility of issuing Green Cards lies with the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB), who have given delegated permission to insurers. This means that, if you are planning to drive in the EU after 31st January 2020 (*updated 12/11/19), you will need to contact your insurer directly. Fiveways Insurance will do this on behalf of their clients so please call us with your travel plans up to a month before travelling.

Are Green Cards free?

The Department of Transport issued a statement in September that Green Card issuance would be free. However, individual insurers may charge a small administration fee. Please call us to find out more.

How quickly will the process take?

If a no-deal Brexit goes ahead, the MIB and all insurers will no doubt be very busy. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) suggested motorists should ideally apply one month prior to travelling, so it’s worth planning ahead to avoid disappointment or disruption.

What if I have an accident whilst driving in the EU?

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, UK motorists suffering a road traffic accident may have to make a claim with the foreign insurer directly. In uninsured and ‘hit and run’ cases, the MIB or equivalent would ordinarily pay compensation costs. However, this may not be the case and so access to compensation claims could vary from country to country.

Can I tow a trailer?

Yes, you can tow a trailer. Separate to a Green Card, you must register with the DVLA, any  commercial trailer over 750kg and all trailers over 3,500kg before they can travel in Europe.

You may also need a separate Green Card for the trailer as well as the towing vehicle. This includes leisure trailers such as caravans as well as HGV trailers.

Do I need more than one Green Card?

If you have a fleet insurance policy, or have more than one vehicle, you will also need a separate Green Card for each vehicle, along with a separate one for trailers in some cases too.  To find out more, speak with us so we can explain how many you require.

Will I definitely need a Green Card to drive in Europe?

You will need a Green Card if there is no deal in place after the UK exits the EU. A deal may still be reached, which may mean that a Green Card will not be required. We will update this page if there is an update from the UK government.

What will happen if I travel without a Green Card?

If travelling without a Green Card, it is highly probable you will not be allowed to cross the border or gain access onto a ferry. If however, this isn’t the case and you are allowed to travel and then subsequently stopped and held at the roadside because you have not travelled with the correct paperwork, you could be fined and have your vehicle impounded. Please note generally speaking, there is NO cover under motor policies to pay fines and release fees if impounded.

Will my driving licence be valid to drive in the EU after October 2019?

In the event of a “no deal” situation, the Department for Transport has indicated that you may need to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in the EU. You would need to show your IDP in conjuction with your UK Driving licence.

The IDP is issued by the Government via Post Offices, so you will need to contact The Post Office for information on how to obtain one (as we cannot issue nor arrange for the issue of IDPs).

It is important to note that there are different types of IDP:

  • A 1949 Convention IDP covers these EU countries: Andorra, Iceland, Ireland, Spain, Malta and Cyprus; or
  • A 1968 Convention IDP covers all other EU countries plus Norway and Switzerland

To drive in Republic of Ireland you will not need an IDP for visits up to 12 months on a UK photocard or UK licence.

Which one you will need will depend on which country you will be driving in, and you may need more than one IDP if travelling through different countries with different requirements. For example, if you travel to Andorra through France, you will need both the 1949 IDP and the 1968 IDP.

Complicating matters further is the timing of when an IDP is required by some countries. In France, you will need an IDP immediately after the UK leaves the EU, no matter how long your trip is. However, in Spain, you will not need an IDP until 9 months after the UK has left the EU. Even then you will still not require an IDP if your visits are less than 6 months.


Whether you are planning on a small trip to France with your family, or you are a haulage or courier business operating in and out of Europe, motor insurance is likely to change. Stay on top of the game by calling our trusted team at Fiveways Insurance. Simply call us on 01952 812380 or 01785 251790 to find out more.

Share this

Let your friends, family and colleagues know about changes to travel requirements following Brexit