Black and White is the new Green

12th June 2020

This week BIBA responded to the Department for Transport (DfT) on five minor proposed legislative changes to proof of insurance requirements from visiting motorists entering Great Britain.

Two of the proposed changes are needed to give effect to the rule changes to the Green Card system agreed in June 2019 at the 53rd General Assembly of the Council of Bureaux (the body that manages the Green Card system).

The first change authorized national motor insurers’ bureau, on a voluntary basis, to issue green cards that are in black ink on white paper, and also to send them directly and electronically by e-mail or any other facility to their policyholder, who can later print them in black ink on white paper.    Issuing Green Cards in black ink on green paper is still permitted, but all countries must recognize black on white Green Cards from visiting motorists.  BIBA supports this change.

The second change prescribes a new format of Green Card.  The format is similar in the existing version except that the rear page is now optional.  BIBA had no comment to make on this change.

The UK legislation on these two points will be amended as soon as possible after 1 July 2020.

The DfT is also taking the opportunity to make other minor changes to ensure existing rules are applied consistently to all members of the Green Card fee circulation zone, and also to start bringing in more modern practices.  It recognizes the move to allowing Green Cards to be printed by motorists themselves, and on white paper, is a welcome step but wishes to go further towards fully digital.  The DfT is working with all Council of Bureaux and participating countries to encourage a move to a digital Green Card as soon as possible.  So in anticipation of this move, the third proposed amendment – which would take effect from 1 January 2021 –  would allow visiting drivers to present an electronic copy of their Green Card.  In practice this will mean that instead of printing off a hard copy of a document emailed by their insurer, a driver will be able to show the electronic document on a smart phone or other device.  It should be stressed that at present this is a change to UK legislation for motorists visiting Great Britain only and has not yet been adopted by other participating countries.  So GB motorists travelling outside the GB will continue to need a Green Card for now.  BIBA supports this change.

The fourth proposed change updates the Motor Vehicles (Third Party Risks) (Amendment) Regulations 1972 to allow Andorran and Serbian motorists to provide alternative proofs of insurance.  This puts motorists from those countries in the same position as all other countries forming part of the Green Card free circulation zone.   BIBA had no comment to make on this change.

The fifth change is to allow an insurance policy document to be presented, for any vehicle from the Green Card free circulation zone, in electronic format i.e. the same as would be allowed for Green Cards.  BIBA supports this change.

BIBA also took the opportunity to reiterate our members’ wish that the UK remains in the green card free circulation zone after 31 December 2020 in view of the challenges that not being part of this would bring due to the risk of low awareness amongst GB motorists of the need for a green card  – and also in particular the unique situation of frequent cross border travel on the island of Ireland.