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Do I need a Green Card to drive in Europe?

Do you need a Green Card to be able to drive your car in Europe? Read our guide to keep up with the latest requirements.

Do you need a Green Card to be able to drive your car in Europe? Read our guide to keep up with the latest requirements.

Written by
Rory Reid
Car and technology expert
Last Updated
20 NOVEMBER 2023
5 min read
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Do I need a Green Card to drive in the EU?

You don’t need to carry a Green Card to drive in the EU (including Ireland), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Serbia or Andorra.

But you’ll still need valid vehicle insurance. You can use your insurance certificate to prove to police or border authorities that you have the right paperwork.

Which countries will I need a Green Card to drive in?

You may still need to carry a Green Card to drive in:

  • Albania
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Moldova
  • Russia
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine.

Outside Europe, you may also need a Green Card to drive in Iran, Israel, Morocco and Tunisia.

For information on what you need to drive abroad, call your insurance provider or visit

Am I insured to drive in the EU?

All UK car insurance policies give you a minimum of third-party cover if you’re driving in the EU or European Economic Area (EEA) countries.

Even if you have comprehensive or third-party fire and theft car insurance in the UK, it’s possible you’ll only have third-party cover while driving abroad.

That means you won’t be covered if your car is damaged or stolen, but you will be covered for the cost of damage to someone else’s car.

Find out more about car insurance for driving in Europe. You could also consider taking out European breakdown cover.

What is a Green Card?

A Green Card is an international certificate of insurance that provides visiting motorists with proof of the minimum compulsory insurance cover required by the law of the country they’re visiting.

Do I need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in the EU?

You don’t need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in the EU, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway or Liechtenstein if you have a photocard driving licence issued in the UK.

You may need an IDP for some EU countries and Norway if you have a paper driving licence or a licence that was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man. Check with the relevant embassy to confirm.

You may need an IDP in some countries if you’re there for an extended stay.

See if you need to apply for an IDP.

How do I get an international driving permit (IDP)? 

You can get an IDP over the counter at the Post Office. They can only be issued to drivers aged 18 or over with a full driving licence, who live in Great Britain or Northern Ireland. You’ll need a passport-style picture, plus your passport for identification if you have a paper UK driving licence.

When abroad, you should always carry your UK driving licence and vehicle log book with you.

How do I apply for a Green Card?

You need to ask your insurance provider for a Green Card. They’ll usually post it to you, which can take up to six weeks, so make sure you allow plenty of time to apply ahead of your trip.

Some insurance providers might let you print the Green Card at home. If you choose this option, you’ll need to print it double-sided and in colour – it must have a green background by law. You’ll also need to trim off any white edges so that the green shows edge to edge.

Your insurance provider may charge you an admin fee to send you a Green Card.

Some insurance providers may email you a Green Card.

Please note that even if you bought your car insurance through Compare the Market, you need to apply for a Green Card from your insurance provider. Compare the Market can’t provide you with a Green Card.

What happens if I want to travel at short notice?

You’ll be fine if you’re travelling in the EU or EEA states, as you won’t need a Green Card.

If you’re travelling elsewhere and haven’t had chance to get a Green Card from your insurance provider, one alternative is to hire a car in the country you’re visiting and arrange local cover.

What information do I need to provide to get a Green Card?

Your insurance provider will need to know: 

  • Your insurance policy number
  • Where you’re travelling
  • Your travel dates
  • Whether you’ll be towing a caravan or trailer. This is because some countries require that the vehicle being towed has a Green Card.

Will one Green Card cover multiple cars?

You’ll need a Green Card for each of your cars. This is the case even if you have more than one car insured on a single policy.

You’ll need multiple Green Cards if:

  • You have fleet or multi-car insurance (one for each vehicle)
  • You have more than one insurance policy that covers the duration of your trip.

You may also need a separate Green Card for a trailer or caravan you’re towing– and you may need separate trailer insurance.

You’ll need to show your Green Cards if you’re involved in an accident.

Which countries are in the EU or EEA? 

The EU countries are (in alphabetical order): 

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • Czechia (the Czech Republic)
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden.

The European Economic Area includes all the European Union countries, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

How long is a Green Card valid?

Green Cards are typically valid for 90 days. Let your insurance provider know if you’re going to be abroad for longer so they can extend it.

If your car insurance is set to renew while you’re away, it’s best to shop around for another policy before you go and arrange a Green Card to run alongside the new policy.

Frequently asked questions

What do I need to know about driving in Europe after Brexit?

If you’re driving your car in Europe, you must display a UK sticker on the back (unless your number plate has a Union Jack on it).

Depending on the country you’re visiting, you may also need:

  • An emissions permit in some European cities
  • Headlight converter stickers
  • A reflective jacket and warning triangle.

Will there be insurance checks at the border?

This depends on the country and the border authority. Some may ask you to show proof of car insurance and, if required, your Green Card.

This is more likely if you’re travelling from an EU/EEA country into one outside the region. You may also have to show your card if you’re stopped by police.

Do I need a Green Card to drive in France?

No, you don’t need a Green Card to drive in France.

Do I need a Green Card to drive in Spain?

No, you don’t need a Green Card to drive in Spain.

Do I need a Green Card to drive in Ireland?

No, you don’t need a Green Card to drive in Ireland.

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Rory Reid - car and technology expert

Rory Reid is a car and technology expert. He serves as the main presenter on Auto Trader’s YouTube channel and was previously a host on BBC Top Gear and its sister show Extra Gear. He is also a presenter on Fifth Gear. Previously, he hosted Sky TV’s Gadget Geeks, CNET’s Car Tech channel, BBC Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition and on the YouTube channel Fast, Furious & Funny.

Learn more about Rory

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