As uncertainty surrounding the UK leaving the EU continues to fill the headlines, the impact of a no-deal Brexit is bound to cause worry and confusion for many people with upcoming travel plans. Whether you’re planning on driving in the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), Andorra, Serbia or Switzerland
for business or leisure after the cut-off date 29 March 2019, it is now known that in the absence of a specific Brexit deal, all motorists will have to carry a physical green card to cross international borders.
Here, we lay out a simple insurance guide for drivers who are planning on driving in
European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), Andorra, Serbia or Switzerland after March 29 and cut through the confusion about what documentation is needed for UK policy holders.
What new documents will I need?
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, all UK drivers hoping to cross a European border – even if that is from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland – will need a Green Card. This is essentially a certificate to prove your UK insurance policy provides you with the minimum cover required by law to drive abroad.
If you drive without a Green Card, the ABI has warned that you could be breaking the law, as you would technically be driving without insurance. This could put your vehicle at risk of being seized and you could be fined or even prosecuted.
From 28 March 2019, all commercial trailers weighing over 750kg and non-commercial trailers and caravans weighing over 3,500kg must be registered with the DVLA before travel to or through most EU and EEA countries and a separate Green Card will be required.
In addition to a Green Card, if no Brexit deal is struck, UK driving licence holders will also need an IDP (International Driving Permit), which vary dependent on the country of travel. For example, if you are travelling to Ireland, Malta, Spain or Cyprus, you may require a 1949 IDP, which is valid for 12 months. If you are travelling to any other EU countries, you may require a 1968 IDP which is valid for up to 3 years. Do your research ahead of time! And don’t forget, if you are driving through more than one country, you may need multiple permits (when driving through France to Spain for example). More information about IDPs can be found on the Government website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/international-driving-permits-for-uk-drivers-from-28-march-2019.
When will I need to get a Green Card and how do I get one?
To get a Green Card ahead of your journey, you must apply for one through your motor insurer. Although there is no guarantee that the document will be needed post-Brexit, official advice states it is best to apply sooner rather than later to ensure you can travel.
Lead times on Green Cards vary dependent on the insurer, motor customers wishing to drive their vehicle to the EU, EEA, Andorra, Serbia or Switzerland on or after 29 March 2019 will have to obtain a Green Card. It is best to get in touch with your policy provider as soon as possible. Application times vary from 6 days up to 4 weeks, but on average it should take around 2 weeks for your Green Card to arrive. Most insurers now have dedicated email addresses or customer phone lines to deal with the anticipated influx of requests in the lead up to Brexit Day.
You can apply for an IDP through the AA, Post Office or Government website and these can be done on the spot in store or take 10-15 days to arrive if applied for online.
As it looks increasingly likely that a ‘no-deal’ exit may happen, insurers are rolling out their Green Cards from now, so drivers can apply in time for the cut-off date. At Cowens, we want to ensure all of our customers make the necessary arrangements with their insurers to guarantee security of their travel plans. If you have any questions about the potential changes to EU travel or need any assistance with the documents needed to drive abroad after 29 March, consult a Cowens Group expert at or call tel:01623649931.