Do I need a Green Card to drive in Europe?

If the UK leaves the EU without a Brexit deal, there will be big changes for drivers taking their cars to the Continent or driving across the border into the Republic of Ireland – mainly, the need to get a Green Card from their insurance provider. Read our FAQs to find out all you need to know…

Daniel Hutson From the Motor team
minute read

What happens if/when the UK leaves the EU?

As with all things associated with Brexit, this situation for drivers is complex. The golden rule, no matter the outcome, is to check with your insurance provider when planning to drive abroad. If the UK leaves Europe with a deal, UK car insurance policies will probably be automatically accepted in Continental Europe and the Republic of Ireland, as they are now.

Split 1

However, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, drivers will need additional proof that they’ve got insurance. This will be in the form of a GREEN CARD. This is an international certificate of insurance – a physical document that drivers must take with them when they travel. It will be required across the EU and in the other countries listed above.

Following a no-deal Brexit, you might also need an international driving permit (IDP) if you are driving to the countries listed above (apart from Ireland). You can get an IDP from a Post Office branch at a cost of £5.50. See government website for details.

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. You should apply for your Green Card at least two weeks before you travel, even if the no-deal Brexit hasn’t yet taken place. 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 will need to print it double-sided in colour – it must have a green background by law. You’ll also need to trim any white edges so 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 there is have a no-deal Brexit, it will then be against the law to drive in the countries listed above if you don’t have a Green Card - so you shouldn’t do so. An alternative would be to hire a car in the country you are 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 and 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.

Split 2

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, which means they will be entering the EU if we leave without a deal.

What information do I need to provide?

Your insurance provider will need your policy number, as well as 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.

Split 3

Will there be checks at the border if there’s a no-deal Brexit?

If there's a no-deal Brexit, you may be asked for proof of car insurance at each border you cross, or you may be subject to a police check. If you do not have a Green Card you might be fined or have your car impounded.

What about travel insurance after a no-deal Brexit?

There may be some changes to travel insurance policies if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

At the moment, UK citizens are entitled to a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which is valid in EEA countries and Switzerland. This entitles you to state-provided medical treatment on the same terms as a local resident. If there’s a no-deal Brexit, the EHIC scheme is likely to be withdrawn.

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.

Looking for a quote?

Compare car insurance in minutes to see if you can save

Get a quote