If you’re driving in Europe in the new year you should be aware of the new Green Card insurance regulations coming into effect on 1 January as a result of Brexit.
From the moment Big Ben rings in 2021 it will become law for motorists to carry a valid Green Card when they drive anywhere within the European Economic region.
And if they are towing a trailer or caravan, they will need a separate Green Card for that too.
Despite the change in law, incredibly, a recent survey conducted by the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) found that only a third of those asked had even heard of a Green Card and just 37% knew they would need to get one for driving in Europe from 1 January.
So what is a Green Card?
Green Cards are International Motor Insurance Certificates (IMICs). They guarantee that you hold the necessary third-party motor insurance cover required for the country or countries you will be visiting in Europe. All UK vehicle insurance provides the minimum third party cover to drive in:
- the EU (including Ireland)
The Green Card may be sent to you digitally by your insurer but you will need to print it out on paper before your journey. You will need to carry a Green Card in a physical format. In years gone by the Green Card had to be printed on green paper but that is no longer the case. However if you need to produce your document it may simplify things if you go with tradition and print yours on green paper.
The Green Card, which is typically valid for a maximum of 90 days (check your policy documents), will be needed by motorists travelling throughout the EEA — the European Economic Area — and some other countries.
You will need to carry extra green cards if:
- you’re towing a trailer or caravan (one for the towing vehicle and one for the trailer or caravan)
- you have 2 insurance policies covering your trip (one card for each policy)
- you have multi-car or fleet insurance (one for each vehicle on the policy)
Showing your green card when driving abroad
You must show your green card if you’re involved in an accident.
You may have to show your green card:
- at the border when moving between countries
- if you’re stopped by the police
We don’t know yet how individual countries will treat drivers that don’t have a Green Card when asked to present one, but there’s no point putting yourself at risk of delay, fines or prosecution for the sake of a bit of forward planning and a potential small cost.
Do I need any other extra paperwork for driving in Europe?
When driving in Europe you may also need an International Driving Permit (IDP) which allows you to drive in countries where a UK licence alone is not sufficient. An IDP can be obtained over the counter from the Post Office for £5,50.
You can use the Post Office IDP checker tool to find out if you will need a permit and find out what supporting documentation you will need when you apply.
While driving in Europe you will also need to carry your passport, driving licence and registration documents, display a GB sticker and carry a spare set of bulbs, a breathalyser, a high-vis vest for the driver and each passenger, and a first aid kit.
If you’re a tourist, you won’t need a visa for short trips to most EU countries, and you’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. But that is set to change in 2022 when you will likely need a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) visa waiver – similar to an American ESTA.
Drivers will also need to be wary of International Driving Permits (IDPs). There are three different IDPs that are recognised by countries and if you are planning a road trip through more than country you may need more than one in your luggage.
You might need an IDP to drive in some EU countries and Norway if you have either a paper driving licence or a licence issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man.
However most trips to Europe will not require an IDP. If you’re driving in the EU, Norway, Iceland Switzerland or Liechtenstein you will not need an IDP if you have a card driving licence issued in the UK. However , there are some caveats, and there are time limits on some countries, e.g. if you want to drive in Denmark for more than 90 days you will need either an IDP or to obtain a local licence. In Germany it’s six months. Whereas Andorra, Monaco and San Marino will all need an IDP for you to drive there.
IDPs will cost £5.50 and can be bought over the counter at your local Post Office as long as you live meet the criteria of living in Great Britain or Northern Ireland, have a full UK drivers licence and are 18 years and older.
They are named after the version of the convention ratified in each country:
- A 1949 IDP (Andorra, Malta, Cyprus, Vatican City),
- A 1968 IDP (all the other EU countries, San Marino, Monaco)
- A 1926 IDP
- Ireland has ratified the 1949 Convention but doesn’t require foreign drivers to carry an IDP so you won’t need an IDP to drive in Ireland.
For a full list of which countries do and do not require an IDP you can visit the Government website.
Make sure you’re not that person who forgets to take their passport with them when trying to travel into Europe. Remember you also need at least six months remaining on your passport to travel to any country besides Ireland. If your passport has more than ten years of validity (because it was renewed early) those extra months do not count.
How do I get a Green Card?
Getting your Green Card couldn’t be easier. Contact your insurer to get a Green Card or if you’re looking for a new policy with Green Card cover contact Adrian Flux. Inquiries can be handled more quickly over the phone so call 0808 167 7250 today.
You will need to provide your name, insurance policy number, registration number, dates of travel and the countries you intend visiting. Your Green Card can usually be emailed to you the same day.