Do I need a Green Card to drive my own car in Europe?

UK residents can still drive their cars on the continent and drive across the border into the Republic of Ireland, even though the UK has left the EU. However, according to the new rules following Brexit, you need to get a Green Card from your insurance provider. Read our FAQs to find out all you need to know… 

UK residents can still drive their cars on the continent and drive across the border into the Republic of Ireland, even though the UK has left the EU. However, according to the new rules following Brexit, you need to get a Green Card from your insurance provider. Read our FAQs to find out all you need to know… 

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
4
minute read
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Posted 14 JANUARY 2021

Am I insured to drive in the EU?

All UK car insurance policies provide a minimum of third-party insurance for drivers in European Economic Area (EEA) countries. The EEA is made up of EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Switzerland is also included, as it’s part of the European single market, as are Andorra and Serbia.

If you have comprehensive or third-party fire & theft car insurance in the UK, it’s possible you’ll only have third-party cover when driving abroad. Some insurance providers (but not all) maintain the UK level of cover abroad, so you’ll need to check. If you are dropped to the minimum level of cover, you can ask your insurance provider for a foreign use extension. There may be a charge for this.

Do I need to do anything else now we’ve left the EU?

The golden rule before driving abroad is to check with your insurance provider that you have everything you need ahead of time.

As we’ve now left the EU, the rules around driving in Europe have changed. Drivers will need additional proof of car insurance in the form of a Green Card. This is an international certificate of insurance – a physical document that drivers must take with them when travelling. It’s needed across the EU and in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Serbia and Andorra. In addition to the Green Card, you should always carry your driving licence with you too.

Usually, you don’t need an international driving permit (IDP) to visit and drive in the EU, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein, but you may need one for some EU countries and Norway if you have a paper driving licence or one that was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man.

You can get an IDP over the counter at the Post Office for £5.50. They can only be issued to drivers who are aged 18 or over, residents of Great Britain or Northern Ireland and have full UK driving licences.

How do I apply for a Green card?

You need to get your Green Card from your insurance provider, who will send it to you through the post. It can take up to six weeks, so make sure you allow plenty of time to apply ahead of your trip. Allow more time if possible as demand is likely to be high.

Some insurance providers are offering to send Green Cards via email. If you opt for this method, you’ll need to print it double-sided 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.

You might be charged an administration fee by your insurance provider to get your Green Card.

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

What happens if I want to travel at short notice?

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

How long does a Green Card last?

Green Cards are normally valid for 15 days but, if you’re going to be abroad for longer, tell your insurance provider as they may be able to extend it. If your car insurance is up for renewal while you’re away, it’s best to shop around for a competitive policy before you go and arrange a Green Card to run alongside the new policy. You can normally arrange for a policy to start 30 days in advance.

Will drivers in Northern Ireland need a Green Card?

Some insurance providers in Northern Ireland are automatically issuing Green Cards to their customers because they may make frequent crossings across the Irish border.

What information do I need to provide?

Your insurance provider will need to know your policy number, your travel dates and whether you’ll be towing a caravan or trailer. This is because some countries require the vehicle being towed to have its own Green Card.

You don’t need to provide details of where you’re going, unless you’re planning to drive outside the countries listed above.

Would a Green Card cover me for all my cars?

You’d 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 car insurance policy.

You will need multiple Green Cards if:

  • you have fleet or multi-car insurance (one for each vehicle)
  • your vehicle is towing a trailer or caravan (one for the main vehicle and another for the trailer or caravan – you may also need separate trailer insurance)
  • you have more than one policy that covers the duration of your trip

You will need to show your Green Cards if you are involved in an accident.

Will there be checks at the border?

Depending on the different border authorities, you may need to show proof of car insurance and your Green Cards. This could be at the border, when moving between EU/EEA countries, or during police checks.

If you do not have a Green Card when asked, you might be fined or have your car impounded.

What do I need to know about travel insurance after Brexit?

It is more important than ever to have travel insurance in place. Travel insurance will cover emergency medical treatment costs, as well the cost of emergency repatriation to the UK, and provide cover if your baggage is lost or stolen, or your trip is cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.

This will make it more important than ever to have travel insurance in place. Travel insurance will cover emergency medical treatment costs, as well the cost of emergency repatriation to the UK, and provide cover if your baggage is lost or stolen, or your trip is cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.

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