Driving in the European Union after Brexit

Driving in Europe - What you need to know

Brexit has caused confusion over many issues, not least the rules around driving abroad. Here are some of the main things you need to know about driving in Europe after Brexit.The information below assumes Britain leaves on March 29 without a deal.

Driving licences

You will still be able to drive in the EU with a British driving license. However, whereas at the moment you only need your driving licence, under a no-deal Brexit you will probably need an international driving permit too. This is, in essence, a translated version of your driving licence (though not a substitute for it; you will still need to carry your licence itself). It costs £5.50 and you can apply for one at the post office.

There are two types of international driving permit. The first falls under the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic and the second derives from the 1968 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic. You need the 1949 variant, which is valid for 12 months, to drive in Cyprus, Ireland, Malta and Spain, and the 1968 one, which is valid for three years, to drive in any other EU country. You may be turned away at the border, or face a fine, if you don’t have the right permit.

As well as an international driving permit, post-Brexit you will need a GB sticker whether or not you have a Euro plate.

Car insurance

It’s also likely that you will need a green card – a document from your insurer stating that you have adequate car insurance for the country you’re in. You just need to phone up your insurer and ask for one, and contrary to what's been reported elsewhere, it should be free. Different countries have different requirements, so if you’re driving in more than one country, you may need multiple documents. The card must have at least 15 days’ cover left on it when you enter an EU country.

Do you need a visa?

Indications are that the European Union will classify British visitors as having visa-free status, the same as citizens of nations like the US, Japan and Australia.This would mean that your passport must be valid for at least six months if you are visiting the EU. It would also mean that you could only stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa, and you may, in theory, be asked to show a return or onward ticket.

You will, however, need a document called an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System), which the EU is planning to introduce in 2021 for visitors from non-EU countries. It costs £6.30 every three years and is really just a security check, introduced in response to concerns about terrorism and migration. It should take about 10 minutes to fill in.

European Health Insurance Card

It is not yet known whether the UK will still be covered by the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme, which guarantees reciprocal healthcare between EU countries. The current official guidance is that it won’t, and you’ll need to take out travel insurance.

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