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Driving in the EU – what you need to know

For Brits, driving in the EU has, for many years, been straightforward. Once you were used to driving on the right-hand side of the road, you were free to drive through Europe. However, now the UK has left the EU, driving into Europe is not as simple as it once was.

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Most drivers’ licences will be valid

Most drivers will be able to drive throughout the EU with their existing driving licence. However, there are exceptions. Drivers who only have a paper driving licence and not a photocard one, and those whose licences were issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey, and the Isle of Man may need to purchase an International Driving Permit (IDP) before they can drive in certain EU countries.

If you fall into one of these groups or are unsure, the general guidance from the government is to check with the embassy of the country you are visiting to check whether you need to purchase an IDP (International Driving Permit). There are three types of IDP’s – a 1926, 1949 and 1968 –all vary depending on where you are planning to travel. You can find a complete list of IDP’s here.

Regardless of which IDP you need, you can purchase one from Post Offices for £5.50.

It’s also worth noting that photocard driving licences are still valid until their expiry date – so there’s no need to worry about that.

Do I need special insurance to drive in the EU?

Last month, the European Commission announced that motorists no longer need a green card when entering the EU as proof of insurance. Instead, drivers are now able to prove their insurance with their official insurance documents. That said, not every policy has the same level of coverage when driving abroad, so we advise contacting your car insurer before you travel to find out what cover you have in the EU.

Can I still drive from the UK to the EU with an EU sticker?

In short, no. From now until the end of September, you need a GB sticker visible to drive in the EU – unless your number plate has one on already. However, if your vehicle has an EU, England, Scotland, or Wales flag alongside a GB mark on your number plate, then you will also need a GB sticker – or can run the risk of a fine from the local authorities. 

However, if you’re planning on driving in Spain, Malta, or Cyprus, you will need a separate GB sticker displayed – no matter what is on your number plate.

If you are travelling after 28th September, you will need to purchase a new ‘UK’ number plate or ensure a UK sticker is visible on the rear of your vehicle, rather than a GB one.

Do I need to be aware of anything else?

You will be required to carry your V5c logbook with you if you’re driving your own vehicle, or a VE103 to prove you are allowed to take it out of the UK if the vehicle you’re driving is hired or leased. It’s also essential your MOT and car insurance are up to date to avoid any invalidation on your trip. If you do find your insurance is invalid, you can opt for a last minute hourly car insurance option.

Joel Kempson, Car insurance comparison Expert at Uswitch, said: “Driving in the EU has been a simple task for decades, however Brexit means that we now need to take extra care when driving into the EU from Great Britain.

“We advise anyone driving into the EU to do their research and ensure they have all the documentation they need to hand well in advance. Failure to do this could result in getting turned away at the port, or in some cases, being issued with a fine or even court.”