model car on a map of Europe

Do you need a Green Card?

As the transition period for leaving the EU ends on 31 December 2020, and a potential ‘no deal’ looming*, here’s a reminder of what you need to know about Green Cards (Coronavirus guidelines allowing travel, of course):

What is a Green Card?

Simply put, a Green Card is a physical document that proves that your insurance provides the minimum level of cover for the country you’re driving in. It will be needed in the EEA as well as Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland. Be aware that digital copies are not currently accepted.

Who needs a Green Card?

If there is no deal, a Green Card will be needed for each and every vehicle travelling in the EEA after 31 December 2020* to prove that they have the required insurance, regardless of the level of motor cover provided on their policy. This applies even if your motor policy has a ‘foreign use’ extension.

A Green Card will be needed if driving from Northern Ireland to Ireland.

If you’re travelling with a trailer or caravan, then you will need two green cards: one for the towing vehicle and one for the trailer or caravan.

Additionally, any commercial trailer weighing over 750kg must be registered before towing abroad. All trailers over 3,500kg must also be registered. For more information on registering, see the gov.uk website.

Note that trailers will not currently require registering if travelling between the UK and Ireland.

What happens if I drive in the EEA without a Green Card after a ‘no deal’ Brexit?

If you decide to do this, then it is highly likely you will not be allowed to cross the border, or gain access onto a ferry. If, however, this doesn’t happen and you are allowed to travel and are then subsequently stopped and held at the roadside because you have not travelled with the correct paperwork, you could be fined and have your vehicle impounded. Be aware that usually there is no cover on motor policies to pay fines and release fees if a vehicle is impounded.

Can I print my Green Card out at home?

Your insurer, or insurance broker, will provide you with a hard copy. Electronic versions won’t be accepted. If time is tight, your insurer or broker can email the green card for you to print off at home and carry with you.

How long will it take to get my green card?

You have to proactively ask for your Green Card from your insurance broker (or directly from your insurer if you don’t have a broker to help you) as they will not be automatically issued. It could potentially take a few weeks (depending on your insurer) to process, so please plan ahead.

Will my driving licence be valid to drive in the EU after Brexit?

A no-deal scenario could require UK nationals to possess an International Driving Permit (IDP) in order to continue their car travels – to be used in conjunction with your UK driving licence – whether driving your own car or renting.

It is important to note there are different types of IDP and which one you need will depend upon which country you’re driving in! For more guidance click here for the latest Government guidelines and travel advice . Note you can get your IDP from the Post Office.

If you will be driving in the Republic of Ireland, you shouldn’t need an IDP if you hold a UK driving licence. This is because Ireland does not currently require IDPs to be held by driving licences holders from non-EU countries.

If you need help understanding whether you need a Green Card, then get in touch with the team for help.

*this advice is correct at time of going to press but is subject to change!

Duncan Sutcliffe
Director, Sutcliffe & Co Insurance Brokers - Worcester, Worcestershire