Driving in Europe from 1st January 2021

The United Kingdom (UK) left the European Union (EU) on 31st January 2020 with a Withdrawal Agreement and subsequently entered into a transitional period which ended on 31st December 2020.

The UK Government has announced that discussions with the EU to agree the terms of the future relationship between the two have been successful and a trade deal has been confirmed.

Man with children looking at boot in car boot

We want to reassure you that you’re still covered by the terms of your car insurance policy if you’re considering driving your vehicle outside of the UK from 1st January 2021.  However, there are still some matters that have yet to be decided between the EU and UK, including access to the free circulation zone, which means that UK drivers must currently carry a Green Card when travelling outside of the UK from 1st January 2021.

We have provided some information below about Green Cards, as well as other matters which you need to know in relation to driving in the EU. We hope this will help answer most of the questions you may have. This page will be updated once further details are available.

Green Card

Currently, you will need to carry a Green Card with you when you travel outside the UK in your vehicle from 1st January 2021.

A Green Card is an International Motor Insurance Certificate which evidences that your current insurance policy provides the necessary minimum level of cover for driving in the EU country you are travelling to or through. A Green Card is personalised with your UK vehicle registration details, and might need to be carried with you when driving in the EU or the European Economic Area (EEA). While we await further details, it is best to carry your Green Card for all journeys to the EU or EEA. In addition to the basic cover which the Green Card gives you, your insurance policy provides you with full insurance cover for up to 90 days. Please check your policy documents for more information on your specific cover.

Currently, a Green Card must be a paper document and cannot be presented digitally. You can request a Green Card at no extra cost from us by calling 0345 165 0914. Please ensure that you have your travel dates available and give us 2-3 weeks’ notice to ensure that you receive your Green Card in the post in good time. Alternatively, if you prefer, we can email your Green Card to you, but you will have to print it off yourself.  Instructions on how to print it will be provided if you choose this option.

If you live in Northern Ireland, we will automatically provide you with a Green Card for the duration of your current policy, which will give you the minimum legal cover to drive in the Republic of Ireland as well as the other EU/EEA countries.

If you intend travelling to the EU when your policy is due for renewal, please ensure that you have insurance in place that covers you for the full duration of your trip. You will also need to ensure that you have a Green Card for each insurance policy, your current one and the one which will renew.

International Driving Permit (IDP)

If you hold a photocard driving licence, you will not need an IDP to drive in any of the 27 EU member states, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland or Liechtenstein.  However, if you do not have a photocard licence, you will need to carry an IDP with you.

An IDP is a permit that allows you to drive in countries where a UK driving licence alone is not sufficient. Some countries have confirmed that UK licence holders will not need an IDP to drive when visiting after the 1st January 2021, but some will require you to have one.

There are three types of IDP issued by the Post Office to UK Licence Holders resident in the UK. It may be necessary to obtain more than one IDP depending on the countries you are planning to drive in. More information about these requirements can be found on the Government’s website.

An IDP costs around £5.50. Please remember to take your UK driving licence with you when driving in the EU, as you will need this, as well as the relevant IDP. 

Log Book (V5C)

You should carry your vehicle log book (V5C) with you when driving. If the original has been lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed, you will need to get a replacement. The Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) will be able to assist you.

GB Stickers and Number Plates

You should display a GB sticker on the rear of your vehicle, if driving in the EU after 1st January 2021. Even if you currently have a number plate which includes the GB and/or EU symbol identifier, we would recommend that you still place a sticker on your car. These stickers may be obtained from several outlets such as Amazon, Wilko or Halfords.

Frequently asked questions

Does the Green Card have to be printed on green paper?

The Green Card system has existed for over 50 years and, traditionally, it has always been printed on green paper.  However, in July 2020, the law changed to allow Green Cards to also be valid if printed in black text on white paper.  Therefore, it is now acceptable for a Green Card to be printed on white paper. Ageas Green Cards will be issued on white paper. This change will also enable you to easily print your Green Card at home, if you wish to.

What countries will the Green Card cover me to drive in?

Once you have your Green Card, you will be covered to drive in the following countries:

Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

What happens if I travel to the European Countries listed above and I don’t have a Green Card?

A Green Card is evidence that you have valid Insurance that covers you in the event of an accident whilst driving in that country.  If you are not carrying a Green Card when it is required, then you will not legally be able to drive.  If you do attempt to drive in the EU without holding a Green Card while it is mandatory to do so, you may be accused of driving without valid insurance and could be subject to a fine, having your vehicle seized or be prosecuted.

Does the Green Card cover all the drivers on my policy?

All drivers named on your policy, who hold a full UK/EU Licence, are covered and will be named on the Green Card.

What if I am towing a trailer or Caravan?

You will need to provide us with the registration and/or chassis number, as this may require a separate Green Card.

What happens to my Green Card if I cancel my policy?

The Green Card will become invalid from the date of cancellation and you should either return it to us or destroy it. You will not be able to use this Green Card to drive outside of the UK if the insurance policy has been cancelled.

How long will a Green Card be valid for?

It will be valid for the period that you have requested, as stated on the Green Card.  It will not be possible to issue a Green Card which falls outside the start and end dates of your current period of cover.

For the latest information about driving in the EU, please visit the Government’s Guidance document.

We hope this information is helpful.  If you have any questions, please contact our Customer Service Team on 0345 650 0345 or email them at:  Lines are open Monday to Friday 8:30am – 8:00pm and Saturday 8:30am – 4:00pm.

The information on this page was last updated on 1st February 2021.