How has Brexit changed the position for UK drivers who drive abroad?

Now that it has officially and finally happened, the UK is no longer a member of the European Union and one of the biggest and obvious impacts for the average motorist will be driving in Europe either in their own car or in a hired vehicle when they go on holiday this summer.  We are now in a period of transition when hopefully, deals can be struck between the UK and the EU so what if anything has changed for motorists?

Driving Licences

The UK has agreed a period of transition with the EU until the end of December 2020 and so for the time being, nothing will change with regard to the UK driving licence.  So anyone planning to take their car onto the continent or who want to hire whilst they are abroad within the European Economic Area will be able to carry on as before during the summer of 2020.  However, after the 31st December 2020 and on into 2021, things could well change.  It may be the case that UK drivers have to apply for and carry International Driving Permit UK in addition to their UK driving licences.  These are obtainable from main Post Offices at a current cost of £5.50, they are no longer available online and smaller Post Offices do not issue them.

An IDP is essentially an official multi-language translation of your driving licence and there are three different types depending on the country or countries you want to drive in and how long you are staying for:-

1949 IDP Malta, Cyprus, Spain and Ireland – although the UK government did say that an IDP would not be necessary for driving in Ireland after Brexit

1968 IDP – for travel in all other EU countries and this IDP is valid for three years

1926 IDP  Liechtenstein – only required for travel in this country alone.  Liechtenstein is the sixth smallest country in the world and is sandwiched between Austria and Switzerland

Green cards and motor insurance

Prior to Brexit, UK motor insurers had a block agreement with the EU so that UK drivers could travel under one certificate of insurance called the European Certificates of Insurance.  Post Brexit, this will probably now be replaced with the European Green Card.

Green cards confirm that the bearer of the card has insurance in place with a UK insurer.  Green cards will, in theory, be freefrom motor insurers but insurance companies are allowed to charge a fee for issuing them.  The European insurance governing bodies have indicated that they will waive the requirement for a Green Card post Brexit but the European Commission has not yet confirmed this.  The current advice from the ABI, the Association of British Insurers, is to carry the Green card whilst the uncertainty remains.  It’s a question of proof.

Being involved in a motor accident whilst on holiday

The situation may revert to the status quo which prevailed before the UK entered the EU in 1973 and this is that a British citizen may need to bring a claim against either the other driver and/or their insurer in the country where the accident occurred.  Each country may have different regulations.  If the foreign driver is uninsured or untraceable then compensation may not be forthcoming.

If you are travelling abroad with your car this summer, talk to your insurer in plenty of time about your cover, in particular, what could happen in the event of an accident.

GB sticker

You will need a GB sticker for your car even if your car is displaying the blue EU number plates featuring the GB initials.  Prior to Brexit, if a car had the blue EU registration plate then it did not also need to display a separate GB sticker.

Low Emission Zones – LEZ

The UK is not the only country introducing Low Emission Zones and banning diesel vehicles from city centres.  If you want the absolute low down on where you can drive and in what type of vehicle then the current zones can be found on this useful website.  Some countries also have a sticker system which is unique to them so if you are driving through more than country, it pays to acquaint yourself with their individual requirements.

Travelling pets

The situation remains unclear and very much depends on what type of listing the UK is given as to how this impacts the current system of pet passports and travelling pets.  If the UK becomes an unlisted country, then the current protocol of pet passports will not be valid to travel that animal in Europe.  Other steps will need to be taken and the government advice is to contact your vet at least four months prior to your travel date.  Additional precautions may involve:-

  • Ensuring the animal is microchipped

  • Cats, dogs and ferrets must be vaccinated against rabies before travel

  • The vet must take a blood sample at least 30 days after the animal’s last vaccination which sample is then sent to an EU approved lab for testing. The animal can only travel with acertificate that demonstrates that the vaccination is successful

  • You will need to observe a three-month window from the date of the blood test to the date of your trip

  • In the week or ten days (no longer) before your journey, you have to have your pet certified by an Official Vet (OV) to say that it is fit and healthy. This is evidenced by way of a health certificate.

There is more information listed on the government’s website, keep an eye on this for updates but most vets are staying very much on track with the new requirements and can always advise you.

For all motoring requirements during the transition period and beyond, information and updates will be published regularly online by the UK governmentThe ABI is also a good source of information and can clarify and explain both for the motor industry and private motorists what any new changes will mean in practice.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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