European car insurance

Planning a road trip to Europe? If you’re taking your car over to the continent, find out whether driving in Europe is covered by your regular car insurance.

Planning a road trip to Europe? If you’re taking your car over to the continent, find out whether driving in Europe is covered by your regular car insurance.

Alex Hasty
Insurance and finance expert
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Last Updated 23 FEBRUARY 2022

Will I need extra car insurance to drive in Europe?

Not necessarily. All UK car insurance policies provide minimum third-party cover to drive in EU countries. This offers cover if you injure someone or damage their car, but it doesn’t give you cover for injuries to you or damage to your own car.

Be aware, though, that many policies have a limit on the number of days that you’re covered to drive in Europe – 90 days in a year for example. 

How do I get European car insurance? 

Check your policy to see whether you need to let your insurance provider know that you’re planning to drive in Europe. 

If you want to have the same level of cover you have in the UK (fully comprehensive, for example) or want European car insurance for a longer period than is provided as standard, contact your insurance provider to see if you can extend your cover. You may need to pay extra for this.

It’s also worth discussing the specifics of your journey with your insurance provider, so they can tailor the cover to your trip. 

Which European countries are covered by European car insurance?

UK car insurance gives you third party cover in EU countries, plus: 

  • Andorra
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Norway
  • Serbia
  • Switzerland

If you’re driving outside of these countries, you may need a Green Card, which you can get from your insurance provider. 

What is the Green Card system?

The Green Card is designed to help cars move more easily across Europe. It acts as an internationally recognised car insurance document.

You don’t need a Green Card to drive in the EU, but you may need to carry one to drive in other countries including Turkey, Russia, Albania, Ukraine, Israel, Morocco and Tunisia.

If you’re involved in an accident in a foreign country, having a Green Card guarantees that you’ll be compensated in that country if the other driver is found to be at fault.

Temporary car insurance for Europe 

If your existing insurance doesn’t give you the cover you want to drive throughout Europe, you could consider a temporary car insurance policy. If you’re going on holiday and need cover quickly, you can opt for a policy that fits the length of your trip. 

Policies are available from one hour up to 28 days. You might find it easier to take out a separate temporary policy than to amend your existing cover.

What documents do I need to drive in Europe?

As well as a full, valid driving licence, you need your: 

  • Vehicle’s registration document (V5C) – the original, not a copy. Or if you’re driving a rental car, a VE103 to prove you’re allowed to use it abroad.
  • Car insurance certificate 
  • Passport(s) 
  • Travel insurance documents 
  • If you’re hiring a car, you may need a DVLA check code.

And check the rules on COVID-19 documentation, restrictions, vaccinations and testing for all the countries you’ll be travelling through on the GOV.UK.

What else should I know before driving in Europe? 

If you’re driving your car in Spain, Malta or Cyprus, you’ll need to display a UK sticker regardless of what’s on your number plate.

You’ll also need a UK sticker if your number plate has: 

  • a GB identifier and a Union Jack
  • a Euro symbol
  • an English, Scottish, or Welsh national flag
  • no flag at all. 

Driving on the other side of the road means you must legally prevent your headlights from dazzling other drivers.

Many European countries require you to carry specific gear, such as a high-vis jacket. Each country has its own laws, so check before you go.

Consider European breakdown cover. While your car insurance may extend to the rest of Europe, your breakdown cover might not. 

Handy tips for driving in France 

If you’re driving to Europe, it’s highly likely that you’ll be driving through France. Here’s a few things to know before you go:

  • Everyone drives on the right in France. This means that at roundabouts, you give way to traffic on the left.
  • Don’t forget to carry change for motorway tolls. You can also get a toll tag if you don’t want to bother with cash.
  • Speed limits in urban areas are 50km/h (31mph). On the motorway or autoroute, it’s 110-130km/h (68-80mph) 

Can I compare European car insurance quotes?

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Frequently asked questions

Which countries are part of the Green Card system?

There are currently 47 countries, including all 27 European Union countries and EEA countries, involved in the Green Card system. Some countries outside the EU are also part of the system, including Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine.

If you have UK car insurance you don’t need a Green Card to drive in the EU, but you might need it to drive in other countries.

What should I do if I’m involved in an accident in Europe?

If you’re on holiday in Europe and find yourself in a car accident, you should call your insurance provider – once you’ve made sure everybody’s safe and well, of course.

How does Brexit affect driving in Europe?

Now that the UK has left the EU, you’ll need to carry your UK driving licence when driving in Europe. If you have a paper driving licence or your licence was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man, you may need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some European countries. You can get one from the Post Office.

The rules for taking your pet abroad have also changed – you can no longer use a pet passport and need to get an animal health certificate instead.

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