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Car insurance rules for UK drivers in Europe changed following Brexit, but have since relaxed somewhat. You won’t necessarily need a new policy to drive your car in the EU or EEA.
That said, you may only have third-party cover when driving overseas now, even if you currently have a fully comprehensive policy for the UK. You may wish to consider extending your cover to get the best protection.
Most UK insurance includes the minimum level of cover to drive in Europe. Our comparison can help you find a suitable policy if you’re not already insured or if you’re reaching your renewal period.
You still need to ensure you carry the correct documentation, including:
a full driving licence
proof of insurance
proof of identification
your car’s V5C certificate (its log book)
Your vehicle is also required to show a UK car sticker or number plate.
You may also need to carry equipment, such as reflective jackets, a warning triangle or a first aid kit. The exact requirements depend on the countries in which you’re driving.
In most cases, you don’t need a sticker if your number plate has a GB identifier or shows the Union flag. If you’re in Spain, Cyprus or Malta, however, then you must display a GB sticker no matter what’s on your number plate.
You also need to display the sticker if your number plate has any of the following:
A Euro symbol
A national flag of England, Scotland or Wales
Numbers and letters only – no flag or identifier
Although regulations initially required that UK drivers carry a green card (or International Motor Insurance Card) to drive in European Union and EEA countries, regulations were relaxed on 2 August 2021.
A green card is no longer required for travel to most countries. A copy of your motor insurance certificate is now acceptable as proof that you hold the minimum cover required by law.
You can drive without a green card in:
all EEA countries (including EU countries)
Bosnia and Herzegovina
However, some countries still require a green card, including:
If you need a green card, contact your insurance provider and ask for one ahead of your trip. Do this as early as possible, as they can take some time to arrive.
You must carry a physical copy, which you can print out at home or have sent from your insurer. Green cards do not have to be printed on card or be green to be valid.
You need a full licence, so policyholders and named drivers who only have a provisional licence won’t be named on the green card.
In countries that require them, you’ll need to carry multiple green cards if:
you have fleet or multi-car insurance – one green card per vehicle
your vehicle is towing a trailer or caravan – you’ll need one for the towing vehicle and one for the trailer or caravan. Note that some countries require separate trailer insurance
you have two policies covering your trip. For example, if you renew your policy during the journey
Most people will be covered by their normal UK licence, but there are some exceptions.
You may need an international driving permit if:
you only have a paper driving licence
you’re driving in certain countries outside of the EU or EEA
your licence was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man
You can pick up an international driving permit over the counter at the Post Office for £5.50. You must be a resident of Great Britain or Northern Ireland, have a full UK driving licence and be 18 or older to qualify.
Most car insurance policies only offer third-party cover when driving abroad, meaning damage to your own car and injury to yourself aren’t covered.
They also frequently limit the number of days you can drive abroad in a year, and limit the length of a single trip.
You can extend your insurance to add comprehensive cover when driving overseas, but this may cost you extra.
Most European car insurance policies include the following terms and conditions:
A maximum period for the term of the policy: this is normally a total of 180 days a year
A maximum length of each individual trip: this is normally between three and 90 days, depending on the insurer
If you’re planning to be away in a foreign country for three months during the year, make sure you get cover for at least 90 days, and ensure each trip within that time does not exceed your single trip limit.
Some insurance companies offer unlimited annual European cover, which means you’ll be covered for trips of any length during the policy.
Make sure the policy you choose covers everything you need, not just cover when driving in Europe. Short-term car insurance can also cover trips to Europe.
Find out everything car insurance can cover you against here
Most car insurance policies include third-party cover when driving in Europe. It’s worth checking your policy to be sure. You can usually extend your insurance to add comprehensive cover – find out how to add European cover here.
If you’re under 25, search for car insurance for young drivers to compare European cover.
All European Union (EU) countries and other destinations inside the European Economic Area such as Andorra and Norway are covered by European car insurance. Your policy documents outline exactly which countries are included.
Not necessarily. As of 2 August 2021, the UK joined the Green Card Free Circulation Area, so you can present a copy of your insurance documents instead across the EU, wider EEA and some other countries including Switzerland.
Note that certain countries may still require a green card, so check with your insurer.
Standard third-party European cover includes damage to another driver's car after an accident. You can extend it to cover damage to your own car, personal injuries, and to cover theft, vandalism, fire and more.
Yes. Before you do, make sure you have the right to drive in your country of choice: check on gov.uk where you can use your licence abroad.
A UK driving licence entitles you to drive in:
European Union (EU) member countries
the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland
You’ll need an International Driving Permit if you only have a paper licence, to drive in countries outside of these zones, or if your licence was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man.
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Last updated: 7 May 2022