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How to make sure you're insured to drive abroad

How to make sure you're insured to drive abroad

Whether you’re road-tripping around the Ardennes or off to a conference in Calais, if you’re planning on driving abroad there’s a few things you ought to know.

Daniel Hutson From the Motor team
4
minute read
posted

What’s a green card?

The Green Card system was originally created to help make it easier to drive between countries in Europe by creating one recognised European document. The Green Card is now recognised as an international certificate of insurance and proves to foreign authorities that you have the minimum compulsory level of insurance for the country that you’re driving in. You don’t need to have it in the EEA, but you may be asked to produce the document by the local authorities in some countries.

Possession of a Green Card guarantees that if you’re in an accident caused by a foreign vehicle, you’ll be compensated in the country of the accident.

How can I get a green card?

You should be able to get a Green Card through your insurance provider. The responsibility for issuing the cards in the UK rests with The Motor Insurers’ Bureau, but they have delegated the responsibility for issuing and printing them to individual insurance providers. 

In total, there are 47 countries signed up to the Green Card scheme, including all 28 European Union countries, as well as Middle Eastern nations, Russia and some countries in North Africa.

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What is an International Driving Permit?

An International Driving Permit (IDP) is an internationally recognised permit that allows you to drive abroad when accompanied by a UK driving licence. They are valid for 12 months from the date of issue.

It sounds a bit technical but, in most cases, you’ll need a 1949 Convention IDP. You will only need a 1926 Convention IDP if you’re about to go driving in Brazil, Iraq or Somalia.

How can I get an international driving permit?

You can get your international driving permit via the AA or by applying at your Post Office. IDPs cost just £5.50.

Remember that having a permit is not the same as having insurance for driving abroad.

What do I need to do before my trip?

Once you’ve sorted out your car insurance for driving abroad, there are a few other important things to do to prepare for your trip including:

  • check the rules – depending on where you are going, the rules of the road could be quite different from here at home. Even driving laws and requirements in neighbouring countries differ. It may also be a good idea to check the drink driving laws in case they differ from the UK
  • check your equipment – consider whether you need to carry any additional items in your car. Certain countries, such as France for example, require you to have the following in the car: reflective hazard triangles, fluorescent jackets and a portable breathalyser. When traveling to most countries, your car must display a GB sticker on the back (unless there is already a GB on your number plate). Failure to do so may result in an on-the-spot fine
  • check your documentation – it’s worth being organised and collecting all the documentation you’ll need in the event that you run into difficulties on your travels. You’ll need your passport, your driving licence, vehicle registration document (V5), breakdown policy, travel insurance documents, emergency helpline numbers and, last but not least, your car insurance certificate.