Driving in Europe after Brexit

Everything you need to know

The government continues to be ineffective and punt Brexit further down the road (for better or worse, depending on your view) but that doesn’t help clear up what Brits abroad will need to do to remain road legal once we’ve left the EU.

Of course, that uncertainty means it’s impossible to predict exactly what’s going to happen, but there are a number of assumptions that can be made.

International Driving Permit

This piece of paper dates back countless decades, and carries about as much clout as a note from my Mum. Still, it’s a legal requirement in many countries, and will likely be a requirement once the UK has left Europe.

Getting one is easy enough, as they’re available in Post Offices. Not every Post Office though, only certain ones, and don’t think there’s a pattern to which ones. Fortunately the Post Office website will tell you the nearest suitable location.

Once there, get a couple of photos done in the booth, fill in a form and hand that over the counter, along with £5.50. Your information will then be copied by hand onto a piece of card, which will then be stamped. You’ll then be the proud owner of an International Driving Permit.

But, naturally, things aren’t actually that simple. There are three different versions and, while the so-called 1968 licence will cover you for most countries – except, notably, Ireland, Malta, Spain and Cyprus – quite a few (such as Australia and the United States) require the 1949 version. And then there’s Liechtenstein, who require the 1926 version.

Green Card

Motorists will require a physical copy of their international certificate of insurance, commonly referred to as a Green Card. It’s not a card, and is rarely green, but it makes more sense than the International Driving Permit so it’s all good.

It’s a physical document (no room for emails and PDFs here) that proves you have the minimum level of insurance cover required by each country you travel to, and most insurers will issue this free of charge. Right now it’s not strictly necessary, and European insurance authorities have stated they’ll waive the need for one, but it’s yet to be confirmed by the European Commission.

Until then, it’s probably best to be safe rather than sorry and ask your insurer for a Green Card anyway.

Number Plates

While UK number plates won’t need to be changed to drive in Europe, the common plates with a blue band to the left containing the EU stars and GB letters underneath will no longer be enough. They’ll be perfectly legal to drive with, but you’ll need to add an old-fashioned GB sticker to the back of your car.

Now might be a good time to get some new plates made up by a company such as Number1Plates and restore visual balance to your car, as there’s no need to keep that blue stripe anymore.

Vehicle Registration Document

It’s recommended that drivers carry their registration certificate in their car whilst abroad. That means either the V5C ‘log book’ for your own car, or a VE103 ‘vehicle on hire certificate’ for a hired or leased vehicle.

Travelling with Pets

Official government advice for travelling with pets says you should prepare as long as four months ahead of your departure, as the UK will become an ‘unlisted country’ which brings with it lots of hoops to jump through.

Dogs, cats and ferrets must be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies, with a vet taking a blood sample more than three months before travel that must be sent to an EU-approved blood testing laboratory.

You’ll also need to take your pet to an Official Veterinarian no more that 10 days before travel to get a health certificate.

Your existing Pet Passport will no longer be valid in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

Accidents in Europe

In the event of a no deal exit from the EU, dealing with the ramifications of a road traffic accident will get more complicated. The simplest advice is to ensure that your own insurance policy includes legal cover, or that you have a separate legal cover policy in place. You can then hand off all the hard work to them, in the unfortunate event of an accident occurring.

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Phil is a motoring writer for print and web, failed racing driver, car hoarder and banger rally competitor. Nominated for the Headline Auto Rising Star award and a MGMW member, Phil freelances for outlets as diverse as Diesel Car magazine, DAD.info and Cambridge Magazine, amongst many others. He also maintains a fleet of unloved motors, but spends most of his time driving an old Corvette.