Prepare to drive in the EU after Brexit

What all drivers from the UK may need to do to drive in the EU and EEA when the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019.

Requirements for all UK drivers when driving abroad from 29 March 2019

From 28 March 2019, drivers from the UK may need a different international driving permit (IDP) to drive abroad.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, UK drivers may also need an IDP and extra documentation to drive in the EU and EEA.

If you drive for work in the EU, see also:

Stay informed

Some of these requirements may change depending on the terms that the UK leaves the EU. Bookmark and revisit this web page or sign up for email alerts to stay up to date.

Driving licence exchange for UK nationals living in the EU

If you are a UK licence holder living in the EU or EEA you should exchange your UK driving licence for a local EU driving licence before 29 March 2019. From that date, in the event that there is no EU Exit deal, you may have to pass a driving test in the EU country you live in to be able to carry on driving there.

You should consider exchanging your UK driving licence for an EU driving licence as soon as possible. Increased demand may lead to longer processing times and delays to exchanging driving licences the closer it is to 29 March 2019.

You can drive on your EU licence when visiting the UK.

If you return to live in the UK, provided you passed your driving test in the UKor another specified country, you can exchange your EU licence for a UKlicence without taking another test.

Driving licences and international driving permits

On 28 March 2019, the type of international driving permit (IDP) that some countries outside the EU and EEA recognise will change.

From 29 March 2019, in the event that there is no EU Exit deal, you may need an IDP in addition to your UK driving licence to drive when visiting EU and EEA countries.

If you hold a UK driving licence you will not need an IDP to drive when visiting Ireland from 29 March 2019 as Ireland does not require IDPs to be held by driving licence holders from non-EU countries.

If you are currently using a UK driving licence and live in an EU or EEAcountry, from 29 March 2019 you cannot use an IDP to guarantee that your UK licence will be recognised in that country. If you wish to continue to drive, you should exchange your UK licence with a local licence, where this option exists.

Prepare for IDP changes

Check which IDPs you may need.

Number plates and national identifiers

Under international conventions, GB is the distinguishing sign to display on UK-registered vehicles when driving outside of the UK.

Following the UK’s exit from the EU, it is recommended that you display a GBsticker on the rear of your vehicle, irrespective of whether you currently have a number plate which includes the GB identifier.

More about displaying number plates, flags, symbols and identifiers.

Vehicle registration documents

From 29 March 2019, in the event that there is no EU Exit deal, you should continue to carry your vehicle registration documents with you when driving abroad for less than 12 months. This can be either:

More about taking a vehicle out of the UK for less than 12 months.

Vehicle insurance for UK registered vehicles in the EU

A motor insurance Green Card is evidence of motor insurance cover when driving abroad.

The EUEEA, Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland are part of a Green Card-free circulation area. Currently, you do not need a motor insurance Green Card to drive a UK registered vehicle in these countries.

From 29 March 2019, in the event that there is no EU Exit deal and the European Commission does not make a decision ensuring that UK registered vehicles will not be checked for proof of insurance, drivers of UK registered vehicles will need to carry a motor insurance Green Card when driving in the EU and EEA.

Contact your vehicle insurance provider to obtain a motor insurance Green Card.

Some EU and EEA countries may also require a separate Green Card as proof of insurance for your trailer. If you are travelling with a trailer, contact your insurance provider to get two Green Cards: one for the towing vehicle, and one for the trailer.

More about vehicle insurance.

Road traffic accidents in the EU

From 29 March 2019, in the event that there is no EU Exit deal, UK residents involved in a road traffic accident in an EU or EEA country should not expect to be able to make a claim in respect of that accident via a UK-based Claims Representative or the UK Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB).

Instead, UK residents involved in a road accident may need to bring a claim against either the driver or the insurer of the vehicle in the EU or EEA country where the accident happened. This may involve bringing the claim in the local language.

In the event of an accident in an EU or EEA country caused by an uninsured or an untraced driver, UK residents may not receive compensation if there is no EU Exit deal. This will vary from country to country.

If involved in a road traffic accident in an EU or EEA country before 29 March 2019, you may need to bring legal proceedings in the UK against either the insurer or the MIB before 29 March 2019. After 29 March 2019, you may need to bring legal proceedings against either the responsible driver or the insurer of the vehicle in the EU or EEA instead. If you need more information about this, you should seek legal advice.

Trailer registration

From 28 March 2019, you must register commercial trailers weighing over 750kg and non-commercial trailers weighing over 3,500kg before they can travel to or through most EU and EEA countries.

You can voluntarily register non-commercial trailers that weigh over 750kg but there is no legal requirement to do this.

More about trailer registration.

Driving to the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel

There are contingency plans to manage freight traffic on the major roads leading to the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel. These plans, activated in times of cross-Channel disruption, are known as Operation Brock. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, Operation Brock may be activated if there are significant delays at the border between Dover and Calais.

Before you travel, check if delays are possible at the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel and check if Operation Brock is active. If Operation Brock is active, check online for advice and look out for road signs telling you where to go.

Plan ahead if you travel during Operation Brock.

EU drivers visiting or living in the UK after EU Exit

From 29 March 2019, if there is no EU Exit deal, arrangements for EU and EEA licence holders who are visiting or living in the UK will not change.

Visitors with EU and EEA driving licences will not need an IDP to drive in the UK.

EU and EEA licence holders visiting the UK can continue to drive on valid EUand EEA licences.

EU and EEA car or motorcycle licence holders who are (or become) UKresidents can drive in the UK using EU and EEA licences until they are 70 or for up until 3 years after they become resident, whichever date is the later. At this point an application would need to be made for a UK licence.

Different restrictions apply to EU and EEA lorry or bus licence holders who are (or become) UK residents.

For EU licence holders who passed their test in the EU or EEA, the UK will continue to exchange their licence.

EU licence holders who passed their test outside the EU or EEA have restrictions on licence exchange. As such, they may need to take a test to obtain a UK licence.

The UK expects drivers coming from the EU into the UK to carry an insurance Green Card, or evidence of their insurance cover.

See also

Published 25 October 2018
Last updated 12 March 2019 
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