The UK formally left the European Union on 31 January 2020. Whilst we now have a Free Trade Agreement, uncertainty remains on whether this will be extended to facilitate access to the EU’s single market for UK financial services.
From 1st January 2021, UK motorists including road hauliers driving in the European Economic Area, Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland will need physical proof of motor insurance when they travel; commonly referred to as a Green Card, until such time as the EU Commission agrees that the UK can remain part of the Green Card Free Circulation Zone. The Green Card requirement will also apply to motorists in Northern Ireland driving across the border with the Republic of Ireland.
All European Economic Area (EEA) countries (EU countries, and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) are part of a Green Card free circulation area, meaning that motorists based there do not have to carry Green Cards when visiting other countries in the area. UK motorists will be required to carry Green Cards for driving in the Republic and other EU states, until such time as the European Commission agrees that the UK can remain in the Green Card Free Circulation Zone.
Motorists failing to carry a Green Card when one is needed, risk having their vehicle seized and facing prosecution.
What is a Green Card?
A Green Card is an international certificate of insurance that proves you are insured to drive in the EU. They’re issued and signed by your vehicle insurer, and include your vehicle and registration details. You’ll need to have one with you if you’re driving in Europe and you’ll need a second one if you’re towing a trailer or caravan.
You also need to take your vehicle registration document (V5) to prove you own the vehicle and have a GB sticker on your vehicle and any trailer. In some countries you’ll need an international driving permit (IDP) Check if you need an IDP.
How long do they last for?
A Green Card can last for up to 90 days (or until you’re due to renew your motor insurance, if your renewal date is less than 90 days away), but you should check your policy booklet for details on how long you’re covered to drive in a single trip abroad.
What happens if my insurance renews whilst I’m driving abroad?
When you renew your insurance you’ll need a new Green Card for your new policy, even if you keep your insurance with the same insurance company. If you decide to switch to a new insurer, you’ll need to ask them for a new Green Card.
If you plan to be driving your vehicle abroad, please make sure you apply for a Green Card at least 3-4 weeks in advance of your trip as some insurers require a minimum of 3 weeks’ notice in order to produce the document.
What will happen if I don’t have a Green Card when I travel abroad?
You could be breaking the law, be refused entry into the European country, receive a fine and/or have your vehicle seized. Motor insurance policies do not cover loss or damage caused by the legal confiscation of your vehicle by HM Revenue and Customs, the police, a local authority or any other government authority – check your policy booklet for full terms and conditions.
What happens if I’m driving with a trailer or caravan?
You’ll need to inform us when you ask for your Green Card as you need a second Green Card for your caravan or trailer.
If you plan to take a commercial trailer weighing over 750kg or a non-commercial trailer weighing over 3,500kg, you must also register it with the Government before you can travel to, or through, most EU and EEA countries.
Although talks remain ongoing for UK financial services firms to replace passporting rights to offer insurance coverage in the EU, an agreement is unlikely to be reached for several months, if at all. If you are planning on driving abroad in 2021, we strongly recommend planning in advance to ensure you have the correct documentation.
For more information, please contact your Hamilton Leigh Client Service Executive.