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Insurance Documentation for Driving Abroad Following Brexit

The Brexit transition period will last until 31 December 2020. During the transition period, arrangements for driving in Europe remain the same as prior to Brexit.

However, the requirements for motorists following the end of the transition period are, as yet, unknown. Unless a trade agreement between the UK and the EU makes provisions for UK motorists, all UK motorists driving in Europe from 1 January 2021, whether privately owned or part of a fleet will need to ensure they carry a Green Card as proof of third-party motor insurance.

Why the need for a Green Card?

A Green Card is a European Economic Area (EEA) certification of insurance which provides motorists with evidence of the minimum level of compulsory motor insurance required by the law of the EEA country in which travel will take place.

Previously, as a member of the EU, a UK motorist was not required to show any additional motor insurance documents when travelling abroad.  However, in the event there is no agreement with the EU at the end of the transition period, it may be necessary to contact your insurer to obtain a Green Card if you plan on driving in Europe on or after 31 December 2020.

How do I get a Green Card?

Each insurer is obliged to provide a Green Card to their policyholders when requested.  Individual insurers have released their own guidance in relation to Green Cards and some may even have a cost associated when issuing but this varies from insurer to insurer.  With the approaching transition date, you should contact your insurer as far in advance as possible to obtain more information from them.

Are there any additional requirements I need besides a Green Card?

With current uncertainty over the terms of the UK’s exit, it is important you keep up-to-date and monitor any guidance issued by both the Government and insurance bodies.  A number of requirements (such as, international driving licences, permits or vehicle identification) could be subject to change and it is essential you stay diligent to ensure you can continue travelling safely and smoothly.

You do not need a GB sticker if your number plate includes the GB identifier on its own or with the Union flag. But you will need to display a GB sticker clearly on the rear of your vehicle if your number plate has any of the following:

  • a Euro symbol
  • a national flag of England, Scotland or Wales
  • numbers and letters only – no flag or identifier

If you’re in Spain, Cyprus or Malta, you must display a GB sticker no matter what is on your number plate.

You’ll need to carry your V5C log book with you if you own the car. If it is a car you have hired or leased, then you will need to get a VE103 form to show you have permission to take it out of the UK.



  1. What is a Green Card?

A Green Card* is a physical document that acts as evidence of compulsory motor insurance required by the law of the EEA country in which travel will take place.

They are not “cards” in the strict sense – they are paper documents (digital copies are not currently accepted).

*Black and White is the new Green

Insurers are now able to issue Green Cards that are in black ink on white paper and send them directly to policyholders by e-mail, who can later print them in black ink on white paper.

Issuing Green Cards in black ink on green paper is still permitted but all countries must recognise black on white Green Cards from visiting motorists.

  1. Who needs a Green Card?

From 1 January 2021, a Green Card is required for each vehicle (including fleet/commercial vehicles) from the UK travelling in the EU, EEA, Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland.  For instance, you will require a Green Card if you are driving from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland.

This is still the case even if your motor policy has a foreign use extension.

It applies to both personal and commercial use of vehicles. If you are towing a trailer or caravan you will need a separate Green Card for the trailer or caravan.

  1. What if my policy renews with a different insurer whilst I am travelling abroad?

If you think you may be driving your vehicle in one of the countries listed above after 31 December 2020 and your policy renews whilst you are abroad, you will need to obtain a Green Card for both policies before you leave.  If you are insured with different motor insurers, you will require a Green Card from each insurer as applicable.

  1. How do I obtain a Green Card?

Please contact us –  RS Risk Solutions by emailing your usual contact or phoning us on 01342 580106.  You should allow sufficient time for an insurer to process your request – please contact us at least 6 weeks ahead of your planned travel.

  1. Will there be a charge for issuing a Green Card?

Insurers may make a charge for issuing a Green Card.  This will vary from insurer to insurer.

  1. What happens if I travel without a Green Card?

From 1 January 2021, you may be breaking the law by driving your vehicle in Europe if you do not have a Green Card.  If drivers do not carry a Green Card their vehicle could be seized, they could face a fine and/or the risk of prosecution.

The following information is not exhaustive, nor does it apply to specific circumstances. The content therefore should not be regarded as constituting legal or regulatory advice and not be relied upon as such. Readers should contact a legal or regulatory professional for appropriate advice. Further, the law may have changed since the first publication of this information.

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