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Green Cards: Changes to Driving In The EU

Aug 3, 2021

August the 2nd again sees changes to green card requirements come into force for drivers who wish to travel between the UK and the EU using their own vehicle. Here we look at what a green card is, what the green card changes are and what insurance considerations you will still need to keep in mind when driving abroad.

What is a green card?

The Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB) definition of a green card is ‘an international certificate of insurance proving visiting motorists have the minimum compulsory insurance cover required by the law of the country visited.’

Following Brexit, and the UK leaving the EU and wider European Economic Area (EEA), it became a requirement for UK motorists to carry a green card when travelling to the EU and EEA in their own motor vehicle.

Green cards typically last for 90 days and are obtained from your motor insurer.

What has changed regarding green cards?

As of the 2nd August 2021, UK motorists no longer have to carry a green card when travelling to the EU in their own vehicle. The obligation has been waived by the European Commission as part of a range of measures to address Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland issues.

The EU and wider European Economic Area (EEA) operate a green card free circulation area, meaning motorists from EU and EEA countries do not need to carry green cards when they visit another area of the EU/EEA. The UK’s inclusion in this free circulation area ended on the 1st January 2021 when Brexit completed and saw the need to obtain a green card for travel to the EU come into force.

However, these most recent changes see the UK return to the free circulation zone and join three other non-EU countries which are part of the free circulation zone – Switzerland, Serbia, and Andorra.

What are the benefits of this green card change?

For private motorists wanting to take their own vehicle to an EU country, this change removes the need for additional paperwork before travelling. And it is a similar picture for road hauliers who travel between the EU and the UK.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) and Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) also highlight the significant benefits of removing the legal requirement to carry a green card for those travelling between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland of which there are thought to be 43 million border crossing trips per year.

And for insurers it removes the need to issue thousands of green cards to their policy holders, something which has come at significant cost to the industry since Brexit.

What about motor insurance when travelling to the EU?

For a period after the 2nd August, if you are travelling to the EU in your own vehicle it may be advisable to obtain a green card from your insurer to avoid any confusion that may arise in the time immediately after the rule change. At Anthony Jones we understand that many insurers will still be issuing green cards for another month for just this reason.

You must continue to ensure that you have sufficient insurance in place if you wish to travel to the EU in your own vehicle. Whether this is a private vehicle or commercial vehicle.

And it will now be important to take your certificate of motor insurance with you when travelling abroad.

All UK motor insurance provide the minimum third-party cover to drive in:

  • The EU (including Ireland)
  • Andorra
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Norway
  • Serbia
  • Switzerland

It will be necessary to check with your insurer if you require any additional cover for your trip to the EU.

If you plan to travel outside of the EU or countries listed above, then again it will be best to check with your insurer as there may be green card requirements in other areas of the world.

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