department of Transport information on motoring in Europe post Brexit and the need to obtain Green Cards & GB stickers

18th November 2020

The Department of Transport has issued information about driving in Europe after Brexit happens.

Background

  • A ‘Green Card’ is proof of motor insurance cover when driving abroad.
  • UK motorists should prepare to carry ‘Green Cards’ as proof of insurance cover when driving in the EU, EEA, Switzerland, Serbia and Andorra from 1 January 2021, including in Ireland.
  • All UK motor insurance policies will continue to provide third-party motor insurance cover for travel to EU and EEA member states so UK motorists will not need to purchase additional third-party motor insurance policy cover to meet that country’s minimum insurance requirements.
  • You may still need to contact your insurance broker or company if you want the same level of cover as you have in the UK.

Additional information

 UK motorists wishing to travel to EU and EEA member states, Switzerland, Serbia and Andorra should prepare to carry Green Cards for journeys from 1 January 2021 onwards, including in Ireland.

  • Motorists should contact their Motor Insurance provider 6 weeks before travel in order to be provided with a Green Card for their vehicle and caravan or trailer. Insurers may charge an administrative fee for issuing a Green Card.
  • New rules on Green Cards mean that they can now be printed out by policy-holders on white paper.
  • Motorists will need to carry multiple Green Cards if:
    • They have fleet insurance – motorists need a Green Card for each vehicle
    • The vehicle is towing a trailer or caravan – motorists need one for the towing vehicle and one for the trailer / caravan (motorists need separate trailer insurance in some countries)
    • Motorists have 2 policies covering the duration of the trip, for example, if the policy renews during the journey

Extra detail:

  • Rules on Green Cards have changed so that they no longer need to be printed on green paper. This means that policy holders can print them on white paper at home.
  • UK motorists must carry a physical copy of their Green Card when driving abroad – Green Cards will not be accepted in an electronic format, and so motorists must print out their Green Cards or request a physical copy from their insurer before travelling.
  • The process for obtaining a Green Card varies depending on the insurer. Some insurers will require motorists to request a Green Card, whereas some insurers will send Green Cards to policy holders automatically. Motorists should contact their insurer if they are unsure about how to obtain a Green Card 6 weeks before travel.
  • Whether insurers provide Green Cards electronically via email or post physical copies to policy holders, or both, will depend on the insurer. If motorists do not have access to a printer or need a physical copy of a Green Card, they should contact their insurer 6 weeks before travel.
  • If a motorist’s policy is due for renewal during the period of travel, motorists will be required to obtain two Green Cards – one for each policy. If motorists change insurers, motorists should ask both their current and their new insurer to provide a Green Card.
  • Motorists may be required to show their Green Card at the border when entering the EU/EEA or moving between EU/EEA member states, but this will depend on the border authorities of the relevant country. Motorists may also face police checks while driving abroad and will need to present a Green Card if they are involved in an accident.
  • A Green Card is required to cover each vehicle insured under a policy, so motorists will need a Green Card for each individual vehicle included in a multi-car policy.
  • Government is working on the UK remaining  part of the Green Card-free circulation area but this has not yet been agreed.

EU Motorists Driving in the UK

  • EU motorists should prepare to carry a Green Card or other valid proof of insurance when driving in the UK from 1 January 2021.
  • Valid insurance discs will be accepted as proof of insurance for Irish motorists driving in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Background

  • The Government is maintaining the requirement for third-party motor insurance cover for travel to the EU because it is a requirement for remaining part of the Green Card-free circulation area.
  • Remaining part of the Green Card-free circulation area would provide significant benefits to motorists and the insurance industry, enabling continuation of the existing insurance processes between the UK and the EU, and removing the need for Green Cards and checks of insurance documents.

Questions and Answers

 Will motorists have to purchase additional motor insurance policy cover in order to travel to the EU or EEA from 1 January 2021?

No, they will not have to purchase additional third party motor insurance cover from 1 January 2021 in order to drive their car to EU or EEA countries. This will continue to be a mandatory requirement for all policies sold by UK insurance providers.

 Will motorists need to start carrying a Green Card as proof of third party motor insurance cover when travelling to the EU or EEA? If so, where can they obtain one and how much will it cost?

 The Government intends for the UK to remain part of the Green Card-free circulation area and we meet all of the requirements needed to remain a part of it from 1 January 2021.

However, in the event that the European Commission does not make a decision ensuring that UK registered vehicles will not be checked for proof of insurance, drivers of UK registered vehicles will need to carry a motor insurance Green Card when driving in the EU and EEA. We continue to urge the Commission to issue a decision on the UK’s membership in the green card-free circulation zone.

In the meantime, motorists should prepare to carry a Green Card for journeys from 1 January 2021 onwards. These can be obtained from a motorist’s insurer as an electronic document to be printed out on white paper. Insurers may charge an administrative fee for issuing a Green Card.

Do Northern Irish motorists need a Green Card to drive in Ireland?

 Yes, motorists should prepare to carry a Green Card to drive in Ireland from 1 January 2021.

 Will Green Cards be checked at borders when driving in the EU?

Motorists may be required to show their Green Card at the border when entering the EU/EEA or moving between EU/EEA Member States, but this will depend on the border authorities of the relevant country. Motorists may also face police checks while driving abroad and will need to present a Green Card if they are involved in an accident.

Do I need a Green Card for each vehicle insured under a multi-car policy?

 Yes, a Green Card is required to cover each vehicle insured under a policy, so motorists will need a Green Card for each individual vehicle included in a multi-car policy.

What if a policy is due for renewal when driving abroad?

If a motorist’s policy is due for renewal during the period of travel, motorists will be required to obtain two Green Cards – one for each policy. If motorists change insurers, motorists should ask both their current and new insurer to provide a Green Card.

Do motorists need to request a Green Card or will they be sent one automatically?

The process for obtaining a Green Card varies depending on the insurer. Some insurers will require motorists to request a Green Card, whereas some insurers will send Green Cards to policy holders automatically. Motorists should contact their insurer if they are unsure about how to obtain a Green Card 6 weeks before travel.

Will motorists be provided with a physical copy of a Green Card?

Whether insurers provide Green Cards electronically via email or post physical copies to policy holders, or both, will depend on the insurer. If motorists do not have access to a printer or require a physical copy of a Green Card, they should contact their insurer 6 weeks before travel.

Will Green Cards be accepted electronically or is a physical copy required?

UK motorists must carry a physical copy of their Green Card when driving abroad – Green Cards will not be accepted in an electronic format, and so drivers must print out their Green Cards or request a physical copy from their insurer before travelling.

Do you have to pay for a Green Card?

Insurers may charge an administrative fee for issuing a Green Card. 

What if the UK does not secure access to the Green Card-free area?

If we are not able to secure continued access to the Green Card-free circulation area before the end of the transition period, UK motorists driving to EU or EEA countries will be required to carry a Green Card as proof of third party motor insurance cover. These can be obtained from a motorist’s insurer as an electronic document to be printed out on white paper.

What if motorists drive abroad without a Green Card?

It will be illegal to drive abroad without a Green Card from 1 January. Motorists may be prosecuted, face penalties or fines, or have their vehicle seized.

Do motorists need a separate Green Card for their trailer or caravan?

Yes, motorists need one for the towing vehicle and one for the trailer / caravan (motorists need separate trailer insurance in some countries).

Do EU/EEA motorists need a Green Card to drive in the UK?

EU/EEA motorists should prepare to carry a Green Card or other valid proof of insurance when driving in the UK from 1 January 2021.

GB stickers

  • UK motorists should display a GB sticker on the rear of their vehicle and trailer when driving outside the UK, including in the EU/EEA, even if they currently have a number plate which includes the GB identifier under the EU logo.
  • It is not an offence under Irish law for GB or Northern Ireland registered vehicles to drive in Ireland without a GB sticker attached to the vehicle.

Background

  • As set out under international conventions, ‘GB’ is the distinguishing sign for the whole of the UK and this does not change as a result of the UK leaving the EU. All UK-registered vehicles should already display the distinguishing sign when driving outside the UK, including in the EU/EEA, and this does not change at the end of the transition period.

Questions and Answers

Do UK motorists need a GB sticker when driving in the EU/EEA?

Yes, motorists should display a GB sticker on the rear of their vehicle and trailer, even if they currently have a number plate which includes the GB identifier under the EU logo.

Do UK motorists needs a GB sticker when driving in Ireland?

No, it is not an offence under Irish law for GB or Northern Ireland registered vehicles to drive in Ireland without a GB sticker attached to the vehicle.

Do UK motorists need a GB sticker if their number plate has the EU logo on it?

Yes, motorists should display a GB sticker on the rear of their vehicle and trailer, even if they currently have a number plate which includes the GB identifier under the EU logo.