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Driving in Europe post-Brexit, what you need to know before you travel

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With uncertainty surrounding the future of the UK’s relationship with the EU, more and more people are wondering how Brexit will affect their travel plans in the coming weeks and months. If you have a holiday booked and you’re planning to drive in Europe, it’s always a good idea to plan ahead. If you regularly drive when you visit European countries, or you’re travelling in Europe this summer, and you’re thinking about hiring a car, here’s everything you need to know about driving in Europe post-Brexit.


What happens if there’s a no deal?

Requirements for drivers travelling abroad will largely depend on how the UK exits the EU. If there is a no deal Brexit, it is highly likely that motorists with a UK licence will need to buy an International Driving Permit, or an IDP. This will be required in addition to your UK driving licence. There are 3 different types of IDP, but only two are in use in EU and EEA nations. These include:

  • 1949 IDP: this permit is designed for drivers travelling to Ireland, Malta, Cyprus and Spain and it is valid for one year.
  • 1968 IDP: this permit is valid for travel in all other EU countries. It is valid for 3 years provided that your licence doesn’t expire before that time period. If this is not the case, the permit will expire at the same time as your UK driving licence.  

From the 12th April 2019, UK licence holders will not need an IDP to drive in Ireland


How can I get an IDP?

If you need an IDP to drive abroad, the only place you can get one is the Post Office. The majority of branches will be issuing IDPs, and the process of buying an IDP should take a matter of minutes. You don’t need to do anything before you go to the post office. An IDP costs £5.50. If you’re driving in Europe, and you’re planning to visit countries that use different types of IDP, for example, France and Spain, you’ll need both a 1949 and a 1968 IDP. You may need an IDP to rent a car overseas, so even if you don’t plan to take your car away with you, it’s a good idea to have one.




Will I need to change my number plate?

UK number plates are distinguished by the GB lettering on vehicle number plates. You won’t need to change your number plates when the UK leaves the EU, but it is advisable to display a GB sticker on the back of your car, even if you have a number plate that is marked with GB.


What documents will I need to take with me?

If you’re driving in Europe, it’s wise to take your vehicle documents with you. In the event of a no deal, make sure you have your vehicle log book, or V5C, and a VE103, which confirms that you’re able to use a hire car in Europe.





Post-Brexit insurance

If the UK exits with no deal, UK drivers may be required to carry an insurance Green Card. Currently, when driving in the EU, in EEA countries and in Serbia, Switzerland and Andorra, you don’t need a green card, however, if there is a no deal exit and an arrangement is not made to allow UK drivers to continue driving in the EU without a Green Card, motorists will be required to buy a Green Card. If there is a no deal scenario, and you’re planning to drive in Europe, contact your insurance provider to obtain a Green Card. If you’re going camping or touring, and you’re taking a caravan or a trailer, you’ll need a separate Green Card.


Preparing to drive in Europe post-Brexit

There is still a great degree of uncertainty about Brexit and how the UK will leave the EU. If you have a trip booked, and you have plans to drive in Europe, keep an eye out for the latest updates from the Department of Transport and the DVLA. If there is a no deal Brexit, you may need to ensure you have an International Driving Permit before you travel, and you should also check your insurance, as you may need to obtain a Green Card.

Brexit will impact drivers, but it’s not clear when changes will come into force and what kinds of modifications will need to be made just yet. In the event of no deal, drivers will need to make preparations to ensure they are able to drive overseas, and it’s best to do this in advance of your travel date to eliminate last-minute stress.


Louise Boxall

Louise has 10 years experience in Travel Journalism, Blog Writing and Research in the Travel Insurance sector. Louise’s goal is to provide interesting, informative articles on subjects we know will interest our customers.

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