On the 31st January 2020, the UK officially left the EU. Until that date arrived, you could not turn on the TV, radio or generally speak to anyone, without some mention as to how this would affect business, travel and trade deals going forward.
However what has become clear since this date passed is that there is still a lot of decision making to be done surrounding the move and how it will affect us going forward when we come to consider motoring within the EU.
It is anticipated that there will be significant changes to how we drive in Europe, but whilst we are in the transition period likely to continue until 1st January 2021 at the earliest, it is wise for motorists to carry out their own checks as to what is needed depending on the country before travelling.
International Driving Permit (IDP)
What is an IDP?
An IDP essentially means a translated version of your existing driving licence. This allows foreign officials to check your credentials quickly. To obtain such a permit you need to make an application via your Post Office and the current cost to apply for an IDP is between £5.50 and £8.00.
Is it a simple “One Permit Fits All”?
No, there is more than one type of IDP you may need to apply for and it is dependant on which EU country you intend to travel in. One permit originates from the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic and the second comes from the 1969 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic.
Failure to carry the correct permit for the correct country when driving means you may be turned away at the border or face other enforcement actions. However, not all countries legally require you to have a permit. This permit is likely to become a requirement however after 1st January 2021.
Does my IDP replace my Standard UK Driving Licence
No. You will need to carry both your standard photo card driving licence and your IDP as the IDP is not valid in its own right.
What are Green Cards?
A Green Card is only valid if it is printed on green paper, it does not come in the form of a card at present. Green cards contain information showing that you have adequate insurance to drive in the country specified.
How do you obtain a Green Card?
Contact your insurer who can make arrangements to issue you with a Green Card. Your insurer will want to know the countries you intend to drive in. This document needs to be obtained before you travel and realistically at least one month prior to travel.
Green Card Validity
Not only do Green Cards take on a green hue, they also need to have at least 15 days’ cover left on them when you drive into an EU country so make sure you check this before you travel.
Remember Your Suitcase
If your travel is likely to take you across multiple borders, you will need to make room to carry valid documentation for each and every country you intend travelling in.
Driving your own vehicle in the EU
Expats are being asked to exchange their UK Driving Licence for an EU licence in the country they reside. It is believed that once new ruling comes into force on 1st January 2021, they may be asked to take a further driving test if they have not swapped to an EU Licence.
Accidents and your rights
Tourists, check with your insurer prior to driving your vehicle abroad what cover is on your policy. If your insurance covers you, should an accident occur, your insurer will step in and act on your behalf and contact the other driver’s insurer and handle things for you.
However, things become tricky if you are not covered under your insurance to travel in the EU. Prior to Brexit, if cover was not present, the Motor Insurer’s Bureau (MIB) would step in and help you. Having left the EU, it is still a grey area as to whether the MIB will be able to assist you. If you are involved in a car accident with a European driver on European soil, you are likely to find yourself in the precarious and unenviable position of having to deal on your own with a foreign insurer in the language of their country.
Hope there is still enough space in your suitcase…
As well as IDPs and Green Cards, the Department for Transport recommends that you should continue to carry your V5C vehicle log book when driving abroad and if the vehicle you are travelling in is a UK-registered hire vehicle, you should also travel with a VE103 to confirm you are allowed to drive the vehicle abroad.
Depending on the country you are visiting you may also need some or all of the following:
- Reflective jacket and warning triangle;
- Emissions stickers and headlight conversion stickers
- GB sticker affixed to the rear of your vehicle
This list is not exhaustive.
If you intend to tow a trailer, you will need to register your commercial trailer if it weighs over 750kg or if you are towing a non-commercial trailer it will need to be registered if it weighs more than 3,500kg. Registration is currently only required when travelling through some EU countries but is likely to change.
Therefore it is essential that you carry out your own investigations before traveling in the EU to ensure you have obtained all documentation required until new official guidelines are agreed post-Brexit.
Guidance and more information can be found online on the Government website – Department for Transport or via the Post Office website, or alternatively speak to your insurer prior to travel who may be able to provide further assistance.