Driving in the EU after Brexit

There’s nothing better than the freedom that comes with taking your car to mainland Europe, and this won’t change after Brexit. Cars, motorbikes, and other vehicles will still be welcome on board our ferries from 1st January 2021, and driving when you reach your destination will be just as easy as it ever was.


The only thing that may change is the documentation that you’ll need to take with you in order to drive in the EU after Brexit. Here, we share what those changes might be so that we can help you to prepare for your next trip.


You may need an International Driving Permit after Brexit


Up until 31st December 2020, you have been able to drive in EU countries using your UK issued driving license. This will still be the case for most people as if you hold a card driving licence issued in the UK you will not need an IDP to drive in the EU. However, if you hold a paper driving licence or one that was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man, you may need an IDP to dive in some EU countries. An IDP is a multi-language version of your UK driving license and enables you to drive abroad. You can pick one of these up from the Post Office for just £5.50, and you’ll need a passport photo for your application.


You can apply for an International Driving Permit if you hold a full UK driving license (not provisional), and you’re over the age of 18. You must remember that you need to take this with you in addition to your normal driving license, it cannot be used on its own.


You will need a Green Card after Brexit


A green card is a multi-language document that shows you are insured to drive your car in the country that you’re visiting. These can be sourced from your insurance company – usually free of charge. You may be asked to produce your green card when you cross borders to prove that you’re covered in the country you’re entering, and you should ensure that you have this in addition to your usual insurance certificate.


You will need to have a physical copy of your green card to drive in the EU. It is recommended that you do this with plenty of time to spare as it can take a couple of weeks for your green card to be issued.


What else might I need when driving in mainland Europe?


No matter if you’re driving in mainland Europe before or after Brexit, it’s important that you arrange breakdown cover. It might be that your existing breakdown cover extends to trips overseas, but you definitely need to check this before you travel as breaking down whilst abroad is certainly something to be avoided. Not only will fees and any work that needs carrying out be expensive, but you’ll also find it hard to organise recovery if you don’t speak the language of the country you’re in.


You'll also need to ensure that you have a GB sticker displayed on the rear of your car unless your number plate includes the GB identifier on its own or with the Union flag.


Something else you should check before travelling to mainland Europe with your car is whether the country you’re visiting, or any that you’ll be driving through, have any specific rules that you need to follow. For example, to drive in France you’ll need to have a reflective jacket and a warning triangle, plus headlight converters to stop you from dazzling oncoming traffic. Take a look at our tips for driving in France for more information.


Now that you know what to expect from driving in the EU after Brexit, book your ferry crossing and start planning your next trip today.