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 will need extra documentation to drive in the EU and EEA.
In the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal, UK drivers may also need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in the EU and EEA.
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 until it expires or you turn 70 – whichever comes first.
If you return to live in the UK you can drive on your EU licence for up to 3 years. Then, provided you passed your driving test in the UK or another specified country, you can exchange your EU licence for a UK licence 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 in EU and EEA countries.
If you hold a UK driving licence you should not need an IDP to drive in Ireland from 29 March 2019 as Ireland does not currently require IDPs to be held by driving licence holders from non-EU countries.
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, including in the EU and the EEA.
You can display the distinguishing sign as either a GB sticker or a GB sign on your number plate.
From 29 March 2019, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, you may need a GB sticker even if your vehicle has a Euro-plate (a number plate displaying both the EU flag and a GB sign).
You will not need a GB sticker to drive outside the UK if you replace a Euro-plate with a number plate that features the GB sign without the EU flag.
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.
Vehicle insurance for UK registered vehicles in the EU
A motor insurance Green Card is evidence of motor insurance cover when driving abroad.
The EU, EEA, 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.
Some countries also require separate insurance for trailers. This means that you may also need a separate Green Card for your trailer.
Contact your vehicle insurance provider to obtain a motor insurance Green Card.
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.
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.
EU drivers visiting or living in the UK after EU Exit
From 29 March 2019, in the event that there is no EU Exit deal, arrangements for EU licence holders who are visiting or living in the UK will not change.
Visitors with EU driving licences will not need an IDP to drive in the UK.
EU licence holders can drive in the UK on their EU licence:
- until it expires or until they turn 70 – which ever comes first.
- for up to 3 years when coming to live in the UK
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.
gov.uk / Published 25 October 2018, Last updated 1 February 2019