What cover do you need to drive abroad?

Driving overseas can be a great way to travel, but you need to make sure you are covered in case something goes wrong. Here is how to make sure you have the right insurance before you start your trip.

For all your travel essentials in one place, visit our Travel Hub.

The rules for driving abroad, passports, EHIC cards, pet travel and more may change from 1 January 2021. Find out more at GOV.UK.

Get the right cover for your trip

Taking your car

If you are driving around Europe in your own car, you should consider:

Renting a car

If you are renting a vehicle to use on your trip, think about:

Do you need car insurance for driving abroad?

Yes, if you are driving your own car or renting a vehicle you must be fully insured.

Before you drive your car abroad

Check your existing policy

Contact your car insurance company before your trip to let them know you plan to drive abroad, and ask what cover you already have in place.

All insurers provide basic third party only overseas cover as standard when travelling to EU countries, though this may change from 1 January 2021.

If you plan to drive outside the EU check your policy or contact your insurer to see if your destination is covered.

You can extend the level of cover from basic third party insurance to comprehensive cover when driving overseas, but this may cost you extra.

Choosing the right cover

This comes down to two things:

  • your personal attitude to risk

  • the legal requirements of the country you will be driving in

You need to have at least third party car insurance to drive in most EU countries, the same as the UK.

Most policies that come with European cover will only give you third party cover, unless you pay extra to get fully comprehensive insurance. Find out what each cover type protects against here.

Check how many days your policy will cover you for. Many offer up to 180 days European cover a year, but there may be restrictions on how long each individual trip can last.

Do you need to get a Green Card?

A Green Card is an internationally recognised certificate of insurance that gives you the minimum cover required by the country you are visiting.

Most countries (all EU members for example) no longer ask you for a Green Card, and your certificate of motor insurance will be enough proof of cover.

However, these countries still require a Green Card:

  • Belarus

  • Morocco

  • Russia

  • Turkey

If you are travelling to a country that requires a Green Card, contact your insurer to request one. You can find out more about Green Cards here.

You can find out exactly what the insurance requirements are for the country you are visiting here.

Before you hire a car to drive abroad

When hiring a car to drive abroad your rental agreement will include at least a basic third party level of insurance. This is a legal requirement.

If it only includes this minimum requirement, you may want to pay extra to extend your cover.

If your hire car comes with a fully comprehensive policy as standard, it will likely feature a very high excess.

You can resolve these issues by:

Trying to extend the cover

Some car hire companies give you the option to extend the standard cover given to include:

  • Theft

  • Collision damage

  • Windscreen, lights and tyre damage

  • Personal accident cover

Depending on the package you choose, you may be able to reduce or even remove the excess amount. This comes at a cost, sometimes as much as the rental itself, so a cheaper option may be to get separate cover for the excess.

Buying excess insurance

If you are involved in an accident that is your fault you will need to pay an excess amount, which can be as much as £2,000 depending on the car you choose.

The company you hire from might offer you excess insurance to cover this. However they can be expensive so make sure you compare standalone policies elsewhere before buying from the car hire company.

For example, you could get cover for as little as £2 per day, so compare car hire excess insurance here.

You can choose between cover for a single trip or multiple trips abroad throughout the year. Be careful, as there is usually a limit on how many days you will be covered for, e.g. between 60 and 180 days.

What is excess insurance?

What should you bring with you when driving abroad?

You will need your UK driving licence when driving within the EU/EEA, however if you are driving outside these countries you may need an International Driving Permit.

This will cost you £5.50 and you can purchase one through the AARAC or Post Office.

Documents you should take with you include:

  • Full driving licence

  • International Driving Permit (if applicable)

  • Vehicle registration document (V5c)

  • Motor insurance certificate (and Green Card if applicable)

  • Passport

For more information on what you need to drive abroad, visit GOV.UK, or read this AA guide that covers the local driving rules for more than 40 countries.

How to claim when abroad

This is what you need to do in the event of an accident abroad:

  • Call the local police. They must attend an accident involving a foreign car in most countries. Find out the local emergency service contact numbers before you travel, and make sure you ask for a copy of the police report.

  • In Europe, complete and keep a copy of the European Accident Statement. This should be provided by the police at the scene, and will make sure all information is exchanged between the parties involved. Only sign it once you are happy all the information is correct.

  • Show your documents. You may be asked to show your driving licence, V5C and insurance certificate or Green Card so make sure you have these with you.

  • Contact your insurer. Do this immediately after the accident, or you can wait until you return home if it is a minor incident. If you were driving a hire car, check with the rental company first as you may need to complete a claim form.

The citizens advice website has more information on what you need to do if you are involved in an accident abroad.

Can you get breakdown cover for driving abroad?

Most car insurance policies do not provide breakdown as standard, so you will need to add this to your policy if you do not already have it.

If you have a standalone breakdown insurance policy, check to see if you are covered overseas.

Most policies will allow you to upgrade your cover to include European breakdown, but it will be more expensive.

Compare European breakdown cover

For all your travel essentials in one place, visit our Travel Hub.

Whatever car you drive, make sure you find insurance that covers everything you need as cheaply as possible by comparing all of the policies out there.