European motorbike insurance
Exploring a foreign country on two wheels can be a hugely rewarding experience – so long as you have the right documents with you. And, if you’re planning a road trip to mainland Europe, there are some changes you may need to be aware of following Brexit.
Does my motorbike insurance cover me to ride in Europe?
All UK motorbike insurance policies will give you at least third-party cover to ride in EU countries. But the key thing to know is that even if you have a comprehensive policy in the UK, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have the same level of cover in Europe.
If you only have third-party European cover, you won’t be insured if your own bike is stolen or damaged. Check your policy details to see exactly what you’re covered for. If you want the same level of cover as you have on your UK policy, you might need to pay a bit more to add it as an optional extra.
Most policies will also have a limit on the number of days you’re covered to drive in Europe each year, typically 90 days.
Where does my motorbike insurance cover me to ride in Europe?
Even with only minimum third-party UK motorbike insurance, you’ll be covered to ride in every EU country.
The 27 EU nations are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
You’ll also usually be covered to ride in other European countries, including Norway and Switzerland, but check your policy to make sure.
Do I need a Green Card to ride in Europe?
You’ll need to carry a Green Card to prove you’ve got the minimum level of cover for the European country or countries you’re biking in. A Green Card acts as an internationally recognised insurance document.
While Green Cards have long been available to motorists, they haven’t been mandatory, but that has all changed now. Since the Brexit transition period ended on 31 December 2020, you’ve been required by law to have a Green Card to drive in the EU (including Ireland), plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Serbia and Andorra.
You’ll need to get your Green Card from your insurance provider. They will either post it to you, which can take up to six weeks (although it will usually be quicker), or give you instructions on how to print one out yourself. They are usually free, but you might be charged an admin fee. The good news is that they no longer need to be printed on green paper!
Legally, you must carry a physical copy of your Green Card with you when driving or biking on the continent. Digital versions, like a PDF or photo on a phone, aren’t accepted.
Do I need any other documents to ride in Europe?
As well as a Green Card, there are some other documents you’ll need to remember to take with you. Riding in Europe requirements include:
- a full UK motorcycle licence – some riders may need an international driving permit (see FAQs for more details)
- the vehicle’s registration document (V5C) – the original, not a copy
- your motorbike insurance certificate
- your passport – it must have at least six months left to run
- Motorbike travel insurance documents and an EHIC or GHIC card that gives you access to state-provided healthcare – taking and using the card if necessary can be a requirement of your travel-insurance policy, so it’s a good idea to take it with you
- a European Accident Statement – this is a standard form that you complete at the scene of an accident to make it easier to process insurance claims, although it’s not compulsory to carry one with you
From 2022, you’ll need to apply for a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) visa waiver to ride your motorbike in Europe. It’s similar to the ESTA needed to get into the US and should cost around £6.
What else should I know before riding in Europe?
There are a few more things you may need to think about before heading out on the roads in Europe:
- If you're travelling to Spain, Cyprus or Malta, you’ll always need to display a GB sticker on your bike. Elsewhere, it depends on what symbols you already have printed on your number plate.
- In many European countries you have to carry specific gear, like a high-vis jacket. Check the laws of any countries you are riding through before you set off.
- Using dipped headlights during the day is compulsory for motorcyclists in many European countries. Always check before setting off.
- European breakdown cover will avoid a costly recovery bill if your bike isn’t able to complete the trip. Your insurance policy might already include breakdown cover as standard, but make sure it extends to Europe too.
- Find out how to make an insurance claim in the country you’re visiting, just in case you hit trouble while you’re away. Policies will often have set times where things like accidents and thefts need to be reported – so you can’t wait until you get home.
Frequently asked questions
Do I need an international driving permit to ride in Europe?
Most people won’t need an international driving permit (IDP) to ride their bike in Europe, but there are exceptions.
You might need an IDP to ride in some EU countries and Norway if you only have a paper driving licence or a licence that was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man.
You can get an IDP from your local post office for £5.50. If you’re not sure if you need one, use the Post Office IDP checker tool or check with the embassy of the country you’ll be driving in.
Do I need to display a GB sticker to ride in Europe?
You won’t need a GB sticker for your motorcycle if you’ll be riding in Ireland or your number plate has the GB identifier on its own or with the Union flag.
But you will need to clearly display a GB sticker if your number plate has:
- a euro symbol (the gold circle of stars on a blue background)
- a national flag of England, Scotland or Wales
- numbers and letters only – no flag or identifier
If you’re riding in Spain, Cyprus or Malta, you must show a GB sticker, regardless of what’s on your number plate.
Can I get motorcycle insurance with 365 days’ European cover?
It is possible to get European motorbike insurance that lasts for a year. But it’s more likely your cover will be valid for around 90 days over the course of your policy. Check to see the exact limits of your policy if necessary.
What do I need to ride my motorbike in France?
France provides thrilling motorcycling experiences, but you’ll need to make sure you have these documents:
- a full, valid driving licence
- proof of insurance (third party or above)
- proof of ID (passport)
- proof of vehicle ownership (V5C certificate)
- a GB sticker if you don't have a GB number plate
You no longer need to carry a breathalyser kit with you when you’re riding in France, but you are required by law to wear a safety helmet with reflective stickers and carry a hi-vis vest or jacket with you and any pillion passenger. You’ll also need to use dipped headlights day and night.