January 16th, 2020 at 1:58 pm
Currently, the UK is still on track to leave the EU that is, of course, if the General Election on December 12th doesn’t upset the applecart and there is another referendum and we end up staying in! Most people have thoroughly lost interest in the whole Brexit debate but its best to be prepared as if we do finally end up leaving and there could be significant implications for motorists.
At the moment, the UK is trying to leave the EU with a negotiated deal and part of this arrangement is to provide for a transitional period during which time, rules and regulations remain the same so that people can prepare for new regimes and this will include motoring whether you drive your own car abroad or you hire one when you are on holiday.
What is the current legal situation?
The current position is that a UK issued driving licence allows the licence holder to drive in all EU member states plus Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland – this is known as the EEA, the European Economic Area because of the inclusion of these three additional countries. Under anticipated transitional arrangements, this status quo is likely to continue under a negotiated deal Brexit whilst the finer detail is worked out and then changes phased in gradually.
If the UK leaves without a deal then the guillotine will fall and arrangements will change immediately. The government has issued advice on its website about the different arrangements that may be in place in each EU country.
What changes are likely to occur?
Some EU countries will continue to accept the UK photocard driving licence, others will require this and an International Driving Permit or IDP as well. An IDP is much more likely to be required if you are staying for a longer period overseas. You can currently buy an IDP at a Post Office for £5.50. Always check out the specific rules of the country that you are going to. If you still have a paper driving licence then this may not be acceptable.
Three different types of IDP
The government’s website lists country by country the paperwork you may require and what triggers the different requirements – usually the duration of your stay. There are three different types of IDP and it will detail which ones you need and in what circumstances. The three types of IDP are referred to by their establishment date so respectively, 1926, 1949 and 1968 but only the latter two dates are really in use. The 1949 permit relates to Iceland, Spain, Malta and Cyprus and the 1968 permit covers all other EU member states plus Switzerland and Norway.
Most countries only require IDPs for longer visits but there are exceptions to this rule, notably Cyprus, Italy and France who require one even for short stay visits. You may need more than one type of IDP depending on where you are visiting and how long you are staying, in particular, if you intend to drive across Europe and will be motoring in several different countries.
Most of the countries which make up the EU, only require an IDP after a specified period, usually three, six or twelve months. A handful of countries – Switzerland and the Netherlands – don’t require one at all.
What if you are a UK national living in a European country?
Most of the legislation surrounding IDPs relates to visiting foreign countries from the UK but what will happen if you are a UK citizen actually living abroad and currently driving on your UK driving licence? You will probably need to swap this for a licence issued by the EU member state in which you are living before Brexit happens. If you wait until after Britain leaves the EU then you might be required to take another driving test.
What about the insurance cover?
If Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal, then you will need in addition to driving licence requirements and IDPs, to obtain a Green Card from your motor insurer. This proves that you are insured to the minimum level of third party cover and insured to drive in the country of destination. This may of course not be reflective of your level of cover when in the UK. Always check with your insurer about driving abroad, what cover you have, whether you need to extend it based on location and whether there are any other country-specific requirements you need to be aware of.
European Insurance Authorities have waived the need for a physical Green Card in the event of a no-deal Brexit but this has yet to be officially confirmed by the European Commission so it is best to err on the side of caution. You will need a separate card or cards if you towing a trailer or a caravan. Allow enough time to obtain this card from your insurer – it is not physically a green card, just a statement issued by your insurer which the regulations state should be printed on green paper. The ABI is recommending to allow around a month for your insurer to provide this and they may also levy a charge.
Other things to be aware of
The government is recommending that your vehicle carries a GB sticker even if this is already present on your number plate. You should also carry your V5C logbook which is your proof of ownership of the vehicle. There is a different document if you have hired a car in the UK and then taken it abroad within Europe and this is form VE103.
Motor accident claims within the EU could suddenly get a whole lot more complicated if Britain leaves the EU without a deal.
If you are a regular European driver then it pays to familiarise yourself with what may change after Brexit and also the type of Brexit which will make an impact. There is plenty of online advice and guidance from both the government and motoring organisations which are regularly reviewed to make sure it is up to date and accurate to reflect the changing times in which we live.