Driving in Europe After Brexit: What You Need

The UK formally left the EU in January 2020, and at the start of 2021, the UK and EU reached a deal about their relationship post-Brexit. But what does that mean for you if you intend to take a trip to Europe by car?

Whether you’ll be driving your own car, or you intend to rent a car on the continent, this is your essential guide to driving in Europe after Brexit.

Driving in Europe after Brexit – What Documents Do You Need?

First, you’ll need a green card. This basically proves that you have car insurance cover. As a rule of thumb, every vehicle needs its own green card. So if you travel with a trailer or a caravan, you’ll need one green card for your car, and one for your trailer or caravan.

You may also need to register your trailer before you can drive it through certain EU countries.

Also, each green card is tied to a specific insurance policy. So if you happen to renew your policy while driving in Europe, you’ll need two green cards – one for your old policy, and one for your new one. Speak to your insurance provider if this applies to you.

Your insurance provider should be able to provide you with a green card for your trip. Just make sure you give them enough notice before you leave – no less than 30 days before you travel.

What is an International Driving Permit (IDP)?

If you have a UK photocard driving licence, then you don’t need to worry about an IDP. However, if you’re travelling to Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, and if you have an old paper-based driving licence, then you may need an IDP. You may also need an IDP if you obtained your licence in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey, or the Isle of Man.

What Do I Need to Rent a Car in the EU after Brexit?

If you intend to rent a car on a continent, it’s a good idea to get an IDP regardless. The car rental agency may require one as part of their rental agreement.

Please note that the laws regarding IDPs vary across the continent. So if you’re unsure, contact the embassy of whichever countries you’ll be driving in. There’s a directory of embassies on the government’s website, which you’ll find here.

IDPs cost just £5.50. Head to the government’s website to apply for an IDP. You can also get one over the counter at the Post Office.

Driving in Europe After Brexit – What Other Documents Will I Need?

  • Your vehicle logbook (V5C).
  • GB sticker. In most countries you don’t need one of these if there’s a Union Jack on your number plate, though you do need one if your number plate has an English flag, a Scottish flag, or a Welsh flag. If you intend to drive in Spain, Cyprus or Malta, you’ll need a GB sticker regardless.
  • Your certificate of motor insurance. Technically, your green card will act as proof in itself that you have insurance. But it’s worth taking your certificate too, just in case you get involved in an accident while overseas.

Can I Take Pets to Europe After Brexit?

You’ll need an animal health certificate (AHC) for any animal that joins you on your travels. As of 1 January 2021, standard pet passports are no longer valid for travel across the EU.

The government also advises that:

  • You must microchip any dogs, cats or ferrets that travel with you.
  • You must vaccinate animals against rabies, and you must not travel until 21 days after the primary vaccination.

Your vet should be able to help you with vaccinations and your AHC. But for more information, check the government’s guidelines.

What If I Have an Accident While Driving in Europe After Brexit?

If you get involved in an accident while driving in Europe after Brexit, first contact your insurer. They will be able to give you through the next steps and give you more guidance.

If you need medical attention while driving abroad, you can apply for a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). This gives you access to state healthcare during a temporary stay in the EU. Head here for a detailed guide on GHICs.

What If I Breakdown While Driving in Europe After Brexit?

Many breakdown companies offer European cover, which will provide essential assistance should your car breakdown on the continent. Getting help overseas can be stressful enough. But crucially, this level of cover ensures that you’ll deal with mechanics and representatives who speak the same language as you.

You can add breakdown cover to you Go Girl car insurance quote for complete peace of mind.