Green Cards – Everything you need to know for driving outside of the UK

Dec 9, 2020

What is a Green Card?

A Green Card is a physical document that acts as evidence that the minimum legal motor insurance cover required is in force for the country visited whilst driving outside of the UK.


When is a Green Card Required?

  • If you are travelling to the EEA, Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland and will return prior to the 31st December 2020, you will not require a Green Card
  • In the event that there is no deal, a Green Card will be required for all vehicles which travel in the EU on or after 1st January 2021 to prove that you have the required insurance, regardless of the level of motor cover provided on your policy. This is true even if you have a foreign use extension on your motor policy
  • You will also require a Green Card if you are driving from Northern Ireland to Ireland
  • If you are travelling with trailers or caravans, you must have two Green Cards issued; one for the towing vehicle and one for the trailer or caravan. The Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Act 2018 means that if you are a business and travelling with a trailer, you must register any trailer weighing over 3500kg and any commercial trailer weighing over 750kg before you tow them abroad


Please note: on receipt of a Green Card, if you make any changes to your vehicle, trailer or change your address etc., you will need to request a new Green Card to reflect these changes.


Requesting Green Cards

  • If you have not already spoken to us, please get in touch and we will make sure that you have what you need to drive outside of the UK after 31st December 2020
  • There may be some delays in insurers processing Green Card requests so speak to us as early as possible before travelling


Please note: where you are travelling within 7 days, insurers may be able to issue an electronic version of the Green Card which you will still be required to print to take a hard copy with you when you travel.


What happens if you travel without a Green Card?

If you travel without a Green Card, it is highly probably that you will not be able to cross the border or gain access onto a ferry. If you are allowed to travel and you are subsequently stopped and held at the roadside because you do not have the correct paperwork, you could be fined and have your vehicle impounded. Please note there is no cover under motor policies to pay fines and release fees, if impounded.


Will my driving licence be valid to drive in the EU from 1st January 2021?

  • UK citizens will not need an International Driver’s Permit to drive in the EU. The matter of free circulation continues to be discussed but the EU Commission has said that it cannot issue confirmation of the UK’s continuation in the green card free circulation area without a consultation, and that can only be done after 1 January 2021. More news to follow.
  • The IDP is issued by the Government via Post Offices, so you will need to check here if you need one
  • It is important to note that there are different types of IDP. Which one you will need will depend on which country you will be driving in:
    • A 1949 Convention IDP covers these EU countries: Spain, Malta and Cyprus; or
    • A 1968 Convention IDP covers all other EU countries plus Norway and Switzerland
    • A 1926 Convention IDP for Litchenstein
  • To drive in the Republic of Ireland you should not need an IDP if you hold a UK driving licence as Ireland does not currently require IDPs to be held by driving licence holders from non-EU countries


Will a driver need to carry vehicle registration documents?

Yes. If you are taking a vehicle to the EU, EEA country, Andorra, Serbia or Switzerland, you should carry the following documents with you:

  • vehicle log book (V5C)
  • a VE103 or letter from your employer (if it’s a company vehicle) confirming that you’re allowed to take and use the vehicle abroad


Does a driver need to display GB stickers and number plates on their vehicle?

Yes. You must display a GB sticker on the rear of the vehicle and trailer or caravan even if you currently have a number plate which includes the GB identifier.

Tags: ,

News & Insights

A hub for Yutree and industry thinking