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Driving in the EU from 1 January 2021

Looking forward to Summer road trips in Europe? Taking the ferry to France, or renting a car in Spain? Long country roads and endless sunshine?

Well, now that the United Kingdom has left the European Union, new changes will be implemented over the next year. You should stay as up to date as possible to make the most of any European road trips, or holidays you have planned!

Here’s what we know so far…

Driving licences and international driving permits

From Jan 1st 2021, you will still need to carry your UK driving licence with you, when visiting an EU country. You may also need an international driving permit in order to drive in some EU and EEA countries from 1 January 2021.

The type of IDP that you may need will depend on the countries you will drive through. Further detail on this will be available later in 2020.

You can get an IDP over the counter at the Post Office,  these cost £5.50 and drivers must:

  • be a Great Britain or Northern Ireland resident
  • have a full UK driving licence
  • be 18 or over

Insurance for your vehicle, caravan or trailer

A ‘green card’ is proof that you have motor insurance cover when driving abroad. You should plan to carry one for the vehicle your driving in the EU and EEA from 1 January 2021.

You may need to carry multiple green cards if you have fleet insurance as you’ll need a green card for each vehicle. The vehicle you’re driving is towing a trailer or caravan – you’ll need one for the towing vehicle and one for the trailer/caravan (you need separate trailer insurance in some countries) or you have 2 policies covering the duration of your trip, for example, if your policy renews during the journey.

You will need to contact your vehicle insurance provider 1 month before you travel to get green cards for your vehicle, caravan or trailer.

Vehicle registration documents

If you’re taking your vehicle to the EU for less than 12 months, you will need to take your vehicle log book (V5C), if you have one or a VE103 to show you’re allowed to use your hired or leased vehicle abroad.

GB stickers and number plates

When visiting the EU, you will need to display a Great Britain (GB) sticker on the rear of the vehicle and trailer, even if the vehicle has a number plate with the Euro symbol or a GB national identifier, however, you do not need to display a GB sticker to drive in Ireland.

What to do if you’re involved in a road accident

If you’re involved in a road accident in an EU country you should in the first instance contact your insurer.

From 1st January 2021, any legal proceedings against either the responsible driver or the insurer of the vehicle will need to be brought in the EU or EEA country where the accident happened – this means you might have to make your claim in the local language.

You will not get compensation in some countries if the accident is caused by an uninsured driver or if the driver cannot be traced.

Get legal advice if you need more information about this.

Make sure you keep up to date with any further changes here, and enjoy your summer road trips!