Driving In Europe After Brexit: Everything You Need To Know About The New Permits

16 March 2019, 08:10 | Updated: 28 October 2019, 15:53

An International Driving Permit at the Post Office
An International Driving Permit at the Post Office. Picture: PA

Will UK driving licences still be valid in the EU after Brexit and what's an International Driving Permit?

The requirements for driving in Europe may change after Brexit, including the recognition of driving licences between the UK and Europe.

In light of this, UK licence holders who live in an European Union country have been urged to exchange their existing licence to a local EU licence before the 29th March, whilst advising other UK licence holders that they may need additional paperwork to drive in Europe after Brexit.

This could mean obtaining an International Driving Permit (IDP), or an insurance Green Card.

A spokesperson for the RAC said that needing a driving permit is "dependent on negotiations between the government and the European Union", and the AA website advises: "If you wait for Government to make a decision it could then be too late to get your travel documents in time".

What Is An International Driving Permit, And How Do I Buy Them?

The RAC have advised motorists that they may need to purchase an International Driving Permit (IDP) of which there are three types, each covering different territories:

- The 1949 Convention IDP covers: Ireland*, Iceland, Spain, Malta, and Cyprus. This permit is valid for 12 months.

- The 1968 Convention IDP covers: All other EU countries, Norway, and Switzerland. This permit is valid for 3 years, or for as long as your driving licence is valid, whichever is sooner.

- The 1928 Convention IDP covers: Lichtenstein.

*Ireland: An exception to the rule is that whilst the 1949 IDP is valid, Ireland does not require foreign drivers to carry it in addition to their driving licence.

The IDP can only be purchased at certain branches of the Post Office, and each International Driving Permit costs £5.50.

Use the Post Office Branch Finder to locate one near you that provides this service.

The Post Office advises that you bring your full valid UK photo-card driving licence and a passport sized photo. For people with an older paper driving licence should also bring a valid passport as proof of identification.

The Post Office also adds that somebody else can apply for an IDP on your behalf providing they have the correct supporting documents.

Will I Need More Than One Permit To Drive In Europe?

You will only need a permit for the countries you are driving in. For example, if you are only driving in Spain, then you will need the 1949 IDP.

However, if you are going to drive to Spain via France, you will need to purchase both the 1949 and 1968 IDP, costing £11.

Each permit can be purchased up to three months before travel, and cannot be backdated.

For Ireland, if a permit is bought for driving through Spain, it will also be valid for use in Ireland but would not required.

Preparing to drive in Europe after Brexit
Preparing to drive in Europe after Brexit. Picture: PA

Will Car Insurance Requirements Change After Brexit?

Drivers would also need to carry with them a motor insurance Green Card as evidence of insurance cover.

As explained by the Association of British Insurers, Green Cards are an international certificate of insurance issued by insurance providers in the UK, guaranteeing that the motorist has the necessary minimum motor insurance cover for driving in the country being travelled to. 

At present, you do not need to carry an insurance Green Card when driving in European Union countries because the United Kingdom is still a member state, but after Brexit, drivers of UK registered vehicles will need to obtain one from their insurer.

But as far as insurance cover is concerned, UK insurance providers will continue to provide the legal minimum cover for travel to EEA countries, meaning additional third-party cover is not needed.