Getting ready to drive in Europe after Brexit

Find out what you need to know if you’re planning a road trip in the EU after 1st January 2021

A woman's hand waves out of a car window on a sunny day

On 31st January 2020, the United Kingdom officially left the European Union. We are now in a transition period which is due to run until the end of 2020.

Of course, this is going to have an impact on many different areas of life, but have you considered how driving in Europe may change? If you’re planning a road trip across Europe after 1st January 2021, there are some things you will need to do to be prepared.

Some are just minor changes, but you need to be aware of them to make sure that you stay on the right side of the law during your road trip to Europe.

So, before you start planning your European road trip itinerary for 2021, here are some of the changes with regard to driving across Europe post-Brexit.

Important – this situation may change over the coming months
Click here for the latest official guidance from the UK Government.

Check your Number Plate

You will need to display a Great Britain (GB) sticker on the rear of your vehicle. This is needed even if your number plate has the EU symbol or a GB national identifier on it.

You do not need to display a GB sticker when you are driving in Ireland.

If you are towing a trailer that weighs over 3500kg or a commercial trailer over 750kg gross weight, you’ll have to make sure it has a separate number plate.

You’ll also need to register the trailer as well, which will give you the necessary trailer registration certificate . This can be presented to authorities upon request, and is required in most EU countries.

Additional Documentation

You may need extra documentation if you’re planning to drive within the European Union after December 2020.

Some countries will require you to have an international driver’s permit before you travel. You can get one of these from the Post Office, there’s no exam involved and the cost is only £5.50.

The IDP acts as a translated version of your original licence which will allow authorities to quickly identify you. You’ll still need to carry your original GB driving licence with you as well.

You will also need to carry the V5C, or logbook, for your vehicle. If you can’t find this, you can apply for a replacement online which can take up to 6 weeks to arrive.

If you’re taking a leased or hire car over to the EU, you should take a VE103 certificate. This proves that you have the right to drive the vehicle, and you can apply for this online.

A Motor Insurance certificate with car keys and a pen

Check your Insurance Cover

When you’re driving in Europe after 1st January 2021, you’ll also need to a green card to prove that your vehicle is insured in the UK. You may also need to have a separate green card and insurance if you are taking a trailer with you.

You should contact your insurer a month before you travel to get any green cards you need.

So this could also be a great time to get online and compare car insurance. Websites like Compare the Market allow you to compare policies from different providers with just a few clicks, so you can check that your policy covers you to drive abroad.

What to do if you have a road accident

If you’re involved in a road accident in an EU country after 1st January 2021, you should contact your own insurance first.

Post-Brexit, you will have to bring any legal proceedings resulting from your accident in the EU or EEA country where the accident happened. And you may have to make your claim in the local language.

In some countries, you will not be able to get any compensation if the accident is caused by a driver without insurance, or if the driver can not be found.

Don’t forget…

You will need to abide by any national or international regulations for taxation or licensing for your vehicle.

And you should also check any other regulations for the country you are visiting. This may include specific safety equipment that you need to have in your vehicle.

You need to be prepared if you’re planning to drive in the EU post-Brexit. It will be different to what we’re used to, but having the right documentation will get your trip off to a smooth start

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