Brexit - Green Cards and Driving Abroad


With deal negotiations continuing following the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union we want to provide an update on the potential impact to you as a client of Saffron Insurance. Should the transition period end without a deal or a deal which does not continue the current terms for driving abroad there may be multiple changes to rules and regulations on driving abroad and a return to Green Cards.

It is important to note that nothing has been formally agreed at this point but we feel you should be aware of the potential implications on motor insurance.

Guidance from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB) is that drivers taking their motor vehicles into an EU country should be prepared and have a Green Card when driving abroad after midnight on the 1st January 2021.

Please note that a Green Card may still be required irrespective of whether there is a deal or not.

Why is a Green Card needed?

A Green Card is an international certificate of insurance which guarantees that the motorist has the necessary third party insurance cover. These certificates prove that drivers are suitably insured to drive in these countries. A physical copy of a Green Card is needed when traveling as digital copies are not currently accepted. If you arrive at the border without a physical Green Card, you may not be allowed to drive in that country. 

The need to carry a green card means:

  • You must contact us, as you insurance broker, in good time before you travel outside the UK (including to the Republic of Ireland as well as mainland Europe) so that a Green Card card be issued prior to your departure.  The more notice you give us, the better.
  • You must provide us with your name, policy number, vehicle registration number, the dates when you'll be abroad, who will be driving the vehicle and the countries you'll be visiting.
  • You must make sure that as well as specifying the number plate of your vehicle, where relevant, you provide the trailer registration mark (if you have, for example, an articulated vehicle, a draw-bar trailer, a caravan etc) so that the trailer can be issued with its own Green Card.
  • You must make sure that if you receive your Green Card as an e-mailed PDF rather than in hard copy format, you print it out and take it with you (despite the name, a Green Card can now be printed on white paper).
  • If your motor insurance policy is due to expire during the Green Card period, you will need to be issued with two Green Cards, one up to renewal date and the other covering the period post-renewal date.
  • Green Cards apply to the registration number of the vehicle rather than the driver.
  • Green Cards are issued for a minimum period of 15 days. If clients are making frequent and/or lengthy trips abroad, please talk to them at renewal about arranging an annual Green Card for the vehicle(s) in question.
  • A Green Card only confirms you have the minimum cover legally required in the countries within which your vehicle is travelling.  This means that as well as requesting a Green Card, you must also instruct your motor insurer to provide you with the same level of cover whilst travelling abroad as you enjoy in the UK.
  • It is the driver of the vehicle that is responsible for carrying a Green Card, even if the driver is an employee.  No employee should drive a vehicle abroad without first having received a Green Card provided by their employer.
  • If you drive abroad without physically holding a printed Green Card, you may be prosecuted for driving without insurance, fined and have your vehicle impounded.


Click here  for information published by the FCA for consumers.

Click here for information about the possible requirement for International Driving Permits.

Click here for the latest Brexit transition advice about passports and health insurance.

Click here for further Brexit-related advice.

There is the risk that if you cannot supply the adequate proof of cover your vehicle could get impounded. 

International Driving Permits

Many UK drivers will be able to continue using their normal UK driving licence in EU countries.  However, there are exceptions where some drivers may need to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) before travelling. This includes:

  • Drivers who have paper, not photocard, licences
  • Licences which have been issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man

The type of IDP required varies depending on the country(ies) the driver is intending to visit.  Further guidance on these requirements, including how to obtain an IDP, is available here. Drivers should check this to ensure that they have the correct documentation before travelling.

What does it mean to you as a Saffron Client?

At present the majority of policies arranged by Saffron Insurance allow our policyholders to drive within the European Union for a certain amount of time with the cover being confirmed by the insurance certificate we issue. If you are planning a trip that is completed before the 1st January 2021 there is no change. However, if your trip into the European Union is after the 1st January 2021 we require you to contact us at least 3 weeks before your travel date (or as soon as possible if your trip is imminent bearing in mind the 1st January 2021 is only a few weeks away) and we will advise you of the specific process required by your insurer and issue a green card if required. 

We will keep you updated with further information when there is more clarity regarding the long term implications of Brexit. If you have any issues or concerns then please contact us on 01799 514144.