Green cards: what you need to know

By Lewis on 14th June 2019 - View Comments

If you’re anything like us, you’ll have heard enough about Brexit in these last few months to last you a lifetime. But have you ever stopped to consider how it all might affect your driving in European countries?

Currently, getting on the road in Europe is a pretty easy process. As the UK is still within the EU, a valid UK driving licence  is enough to get you on the road. But as it stands at the moment, if we leave the EU without a deal, you’ll need a Green Card to drive in Europe.

What’s a Green Card, and why do I need one?

They’re internationally recognised documents that prove your vehicle is insured, and make things go a lot smoother in the event of you needing to make a claim, or exchange details with police.

Though there was an agreement reached in May that would waive the need for green cards in the event of a no-deal Brexit, this hasn’t been passed into law yet, so it’s better to err on the side of caution.

Other countries outside of the EU already require green cards for driving, such as Russia and Turkey.

How do I apply for a green card?

Cards are issued free of charge, but because of the time it takes you should contact your insurance provider about a month before you’re planning to travel. It’s valid for a whole year, and if you aren’t travelling for a while you can delay the card coming into effect for up to three months. It is important to note, though, that a green card is not a substitute for your driving license; make sure to keep both on you when driving abroad.

Who do the changes affect?

In 2018, the Eurotunnel carried approximately 3 million cars and 2 million trucks from England to France. All these people could potentially fall foul of the changes to EU driving rules – alongside those travelling either way across the Irish border.

However, there are some circumstances where you won’t need a green card. This includes if you’re hiring a car abroad (in which case you should be covered by the rental company’s insurance on its own).

Will I need anything else to drive in Europe if we leave without a deal?

Yes. If we leave the EU without a deal, a green card is just one of the things you’ll need. The other big document is an International Driving Permit, or IDP. This costs £5.50 and can be bought over the counter at your local post office. There are three different types of permit, and which one you’ll need is dependent on where you’re driving to.

A full list of countries and their respective IDP’s are available on the government’s website, but most of the popular holiday destinations, such as Spain and Cyprus require a 1949 IDP. Other countries, like Italy, Germany and Greece need you to have a newer 1968 IDP.

A parting disclaimer

We do a lot of things here at WrightStart, but predicting the future isn’t one of them. Even if we could, Brexit is infamous for how fluid it is day-to-day, and so there’s no guarantee that these changes will actually go through.

In any case, we think it’s a good idea to be prepared – and for less than the price of a coffee and a slice of cake, how can you say no?

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