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BREXIT

British drivers will no longer need an insurance ‘green card’ to visit Europe, EU rules

The post-Brexit requirement for drivers from the UK to obtain a 'green card' from their insurance company before visiting Europe is set to be dropped after the European Commission agreed to waive the requirement.

British drivers will no longer need an insurance 'green card' to visit Europe, EU rules
Photo: Christophe Petit Tesson/AFP

The announcement from the Commission on Thursday was part of a package of measures designed to diffuse tension over the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, but will apply throughout the EU.

The new rule will come into effect 20 days after the ruling is published in the EU’s official journal, which is expected to be in the next few days.

This means that British visitors taking their cars when going on holidays or family visits to France, Germany, Spain etc will no longer be required to obtain extra paperwork from their car insurance companies ahead of their journey.

Readers of a certain age will remember the ‘green cards’ – issued by the insurance company before a trip abroad. The internationally recognised card shows local law enforcement that the car is fully insured.

This requirement returned after the end of the Brexit transition period, although in practice not all insurance companies were issuing the cards and some told customers that they were not necessary.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) described the decision as excellent news for drivers.

Its director general, Huw Evans, told British newspaper The Guardian that the Commission had taken a “pragmatic approach on the matter”.

“UK drivers will no longer need to apply for a green card through their insurer which will help reduce bureaucracy for drivers and road hauliers travelling between the UK and EU,” he said.

“It will be especially welcomed by motorists in Northern Ireland driving across the border.”

Bilateral deals on driving licences mean that most EU countries continue to allow British tourists and visitors to drive on UK licences (although British residents in some countries have to swap their licence for a local one) and an International Driver’s Permit is not necessary.

There are, however, still plenty of extra requirements in place for Brits coming into EU countries, from changes to passports rules for both humans and pets to a ban on ham sandwiches – check out the complete list of new rules HERE.

Member comments

  1. Excellent! One less piece of paper to carry! Fingers crossed those of us injected with AZ India are allowed to travel without quarantine

  2. “British drivers” and “drivers from the UK” are very different, though in this article they are treated as synonymous.

    I, for example, am British, being born in Jersey, but I am not from the UK.

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BREXIT

Anger grows as no solution found yet for in limbo UK drivers in Spain 

British drivers living in Spain are becoming increasingly disgruntled at the lack of solutions two weeks after they were told their UK licences were no longer valid, with the latest update from the UK Embassy suggesting it could still take "weeks" to reach a deal. 

Anger grows as no solution found yet for in limbo UK drivers in Spain 

There is growing discontent among UK licence holders residing in Spain who are currently in limbo, unable to drive in Spain until they either get a Spanish driving licence or a deal is finally reached between Spanish and UK authorities for the mutual exchange of licences post-Brexit.

Since May 1st 2022, drivers who’ve been residents in Spain for more than six months and who weren’t able to exchange their UK licences for Spanish ones cannot drive in Spain.

There are no official stats on how many Britons of the 407,000 UK nationals who are residents in Spain in 2022 are affected; according to the UK Embassy the “majority exchanged” as advised.

But judging by the amount of negative comments the last two updates from the British Embassy in Madrid have received, hundreds if not thousands are stuck without being able to drive in Spain.  

May 12th’s video message by Ambassador Hugh Elliott left many unhappy with the fact that the forecast for a possible licence exchange agreement will be in the “coming weeks”, when two weeks earlier Elliott had spoken of “rapidly accelerating talks”. 

Dozens of angry responses spoke of the “shocking” and “absolutely ridiculous” holdup in negotiations that have been ongoing for more than at least a year and a half, and which the UK Embassy has put down to the fact that Spain is asking the British government to give them access to DVLA driver data such as road offences, something “not requested by other EU Member States”.

Numerous Britons have explained the setbacks not being able to drive in Spain are causing them, from losing their independence to struggling to go to work, the hospital or the supermarket, especially those in rural areas with little public transport.  

“I know personally from all the messages you’ve sent in, just how incredibly disruptive all of this is for many of you,” Elliott said in response. 

“If you are struggling to get around you may find additional advice or support from your local town hall, or charities or community groups in your area and the Support in Spain website is another very useful source of organisations that can provide general support to residents.

“And if your inability to drive is putting you in a very vulnerable situation, you can always contact your nearest consulate for advice.”

There continue to be disparaging opinions in the British community in Spain over whether any pity should be felt for UK licence holders stuck without driving, as many argue they had enough time to register intent to exchange their licences, whilst others clarify that their particular set of circumstances, such as arriving after the December 2020 ‘intent to exchange’ deadline, made this impossible. 

OPINION: Not all Brits in Spain who didn’t exchange UK driving licences are at fault

So is there any light at the end of the tunnel for drivers whose UK licences aren’t valid anymore in Spain or soon won’t be?

“The agreement we’re working towards now will enable UK licence holders, whenever they arrived in Spain or arrive in the future, to exchange their UK licence for a Spanish one without needing to take a practical or a theory test,” Elliott said on Thursday May 12th of the deal they are “fully committed” to achieve.

READ ALSO: How much does it cost to get a Spanish driving licence?

And yet it’s hard for anyone to rest their hopes on this necessarily happening – sooner or later or ever – in part because the embassy advice for those with UK licences for whom it’s imperative to continue driving in Spain is that they should take steps to get their Spanish licence now, while acknowledging that in some places there are “long delays for lessons” and getting your Spanish licence “doesn’t happen overnight”.

READ ALSO: What now for UK licence holders in Spain?

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