Travelling Post Brexit – 31 January 2020 update

Travelling Post Brexit – 31 January 2020 update

The UK is set to leave the EU today (31st January 2020) with a withdrawal agreement. There is set to be a transition period for the next 11 months up to 31st December 2020.

During the transition period, things will largely continue to operate as they did before. The UK and the EU will continue to negotiate a trade deal. It will be then that we know the future requirements for International Driving Permits and Green cards.

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 at least the legal minimum valid insurance to drive your car abroad. From 1st January 2021, unless the UK and EU sign a deal to formally recognise insurance certificates as they currently do, you will need a Green Card as proof of insurance.

Where is it valid?

Your motor insurer will stipulate the geographical limits of the foreign use cover within your policy. Up until 1st January 2021, you only need a Green Card if you are travelling outside of the EU. It is possible you will need a Green Card for any foreign travel after the 1st January 2021. This may also include travelling between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. We will have to see what the UK and EU negotiate regarding travel agreements.

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 01st January 2021 (*updated 31/01/2020) 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.

Although you do not yet need a Green Card by law, Insurers are still providing Green Cards when requested.

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?

Whilst it should not take too long to issue a Green Card, it can take a little time to be sent if they need to come to you in the post. We recommend calling up to 1 month before you need to travel.

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

Up until 1st January 2021, you can continue to report claims in the usual way. Be sure to take lots of information and photos at the scene of the accident, and take down any third party details.
After 1st January 2021, things may change so check back on our website for updated information nearer the time.

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. Your motor insurer should provide you with two Green Cards should you need one for the towing vehicle and the trailer.

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?

The UK has left the EU with a deal in place, and therefore you do not need a Green Card to travel in the EU during the transition period. Following this period, after 1st January 2021, yoou may need a Green Card if a deal is not struck to recognise current UK issued insurance certificates.

What will happen if I travel without a Green Card?

Following 1st January 2021, 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 31st January 2020?

As with Green Cards, your driving licence remains valid during the transition period, and you do not need to get an International Driving Permit to drive in the EU.
Following the transition period from 1st January 2021, you may need a IDP to drive in the EU.

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.

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