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Motor Insurance and Brexit

Last Updated 11th January 2021 – 15:30

At 11pm on 31st January 2020, the UK formally left the European Union (EU) and entered into a transition period, which ended as of the 31st December 2020.

During the transition period very little changed, including travel to the EU, so there was no need to take any additional steps, and there was no need to obtain a green card, visa or permit.

Following the agreement of the UK-EU Trade deal, we have put together some useful information to help you prepare if you’re going to be driving on the Continent.

Will this guidance change?

The information shown below is correct as of the time of writing, but will be subject to change. We would recommend referrencing GOV.UK and The Association of British Insurers (ABI)  who will be updating their pages as events unfold.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a green card?

A document that you must have with you if driving your car abroad. It proves you have appropriate car insurance for the country you’re driving in

Do I need a green card when I’m travelling in the European Union (EU)?

As of the time of writing, the UK has not been included in the Green Card Free Circulation Area (GCFCA), so if you’re travelling to the EU after 31st December 2020, you’ll need to request a green card. You may have to pay for insurance again at the borders of any countries you visit, depending on their own regulations, if you don’t have one.

Wasn’t this supposed to change when a trade deal was agreed?

Yes – The Government previously advised that once a trade deal was agreed, drivers would be able to move around the EU and EEA in the same way that they did prior to Brexit. This has now changed.

It is hoped that the UK will be included in the GCFCA in the future, meaning that Green Cards will no longer be required. The links at the top of the page will be the best place to get updates regarding this.

Does a green card cost money?

A green card will be supplied free of charge.

How do I get a green card?

Contact your insurer, who will make the necessary arrangements for you. If you are one of our customers, you can contact our administration department by phone on 01227 776685 or email to admin@gsi-insurance.com

Does my green card need to be printed on green paper?

The Green Card (the International Motor Insurance Certificate ‘IMIC’) changed to being valid in black text on white paper from July 2020. The managing organisation of the Green Card system, the Council of Bureaux, has put this in place with the appropriate authorities in the participating countries.

The Green Card system has existed for over fifty years, so the name has been retained to keep with tradition.

How long does it take to get a green card?

This varies from insurer to insurer. If you are one of our clients, we will attempt to get an approximate timeframe from the company. Once it is received at our office, we will send a copy in the post to you. We can also email it to you if you require the document sooner. You would then be able to print it out on plain white A4 paper. Keep it together with your motor insurance certificate at all times.

Is there an electronic version I can use?

No. We will send you a PDF copy on request so that you can print your own, but it is not acceptable evidence of insurance in digital format. It is unlikely to be recognised by authorities abroad, so we highly recommend taking a hard copy before you travel.

Is my green card still valid if I have to renew my insurance while I’m abroad?

You will need a green card for the period you start your trip to your renewal date. You will then need another green card from your renewal date to your return date. If you take a policy with a new insurer, they will need to be contacted to request a green card for the period from your renewal date to the end of your trip. It may take a couple of weeks to obtain a green card from the new insurer, so it is worth arranging your renewal as soon as you can to give them time.

What other requirements are there?

  • A GB sticker on your car, or printed on your registration plate
  • Check your passport – On the day of your travel it must have at least 6 months left, and not be more than 10 years old
  • At border control, you might need to show a return or onward ticket, show you have enough money for your stay, and be sure to use separate lanes from EUEEA and Swiss citizens when queueing
  • Check if you need a visa for the Country/countries you are visiting
  • (Although not a recommendation on the GOV.UK website) it is worth having your driving licence with you
What countries do I need a green card for?

We recommend that you take a green card for the following countries:

  • Andorra
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Romania
  • Serbia
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

What happens if I don’t have a green card?

Without a green card, you may be refused entry to the country, or you may need to purchase insurance at the borders of each country you visit. If you are stopped by the police, they may consider you driving without appropriate insurance. This could result in prosecution, a fine, your vehicle being seized, or a combination, and will vary depending on the laws in that country. A green card and motor insurance certificate will make sure you don’t fall foul of the authorities.

Check if you need an international driving permit (IDP)

You may need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some countries. The permit you may need depends on:

  • which country you’re visiting
  • how long you’re staying

You need to have a valid Great Britain (GB) or Northern Ireland driving licence to get an IDP.

Driving in Europe

At the time of writing, an IDP isn’t required for driving in the EU, but please note that the rules for driving, passports, EHIC cards, pet travel and more may change. Check if you need to act now to make sure you can travel as planned.

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