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Drivers get the green light for hassle free post Brexit driving in the EU

UK drivers and hauliers should not have to apply or pay for ‘Green Card’ documentation from insurers when they travel in an EU member state after Brexit, the Department for Transport has confirmed in a letter to the ABI. This is a significant development and once the Commission have agreed it, means that drivers, haulage operators and insurers will not face the considerable administrative disruption associated with issuing Green Cards or having to face border checks.

Following representations from the ABI, Motor Insurers Bureau and BIBA over the last 18 months, senior officials at the DfT wrote to the ABI this week stating that the Government has formally decided to keep the UK within the Motor Insurance ‘Free Circulation Zone'. This decision is now subject to formal approval by the European Commission, who need to confirm an introductory date. However, as the Department for Transport has secured the agreement of the Council of Bureau (the organisation that administers the international Green Card system) and has confirmed its ability to meet any cross-border claims involving UK drivers and haulage operators, the Commission’s role is only to confirm the timescales. We therefore expect the Commission to issue this confirmation.

Huw Evans, Director General of the ABI said:

Huw Evans“This is good news for drivers and haulage operators who no longer face the prospect of doing reams of paperwork and paying admin charges every time they get on a ferry to Europe. It’s always encouraging to see common sense prevail and I look forward to the Commission concluding the formalities as soon as possible."

As a result of this decision, the UK’s status within the Green Card system will effectively be the same as three other non-EU member states who are part of the Free Circulation Zone – Serbia, Switzerland and Andorra – where drivers can enter the EU using their domestic motor insurance policy and do not need to be issued with any additional documentation. The same will apply for any drivers and haulage operators from these countries who bring their vehicle to the UK.

Why does this matter for motorists and hauliers?

As most members of the Green Card system are also part of the EU’s Free Circulation Zone, the Green Card system itself has not evolved significantly since the 1970s. Documents still have to be issued on green paper and cannot be delivered electronically – despite the fact that motorists are no longer even required to carry paper insurance certificates.

Returning to the Green Card would have created the following problems: 

  • A lack of clarity over when motorists and haulage operators needed to tell their insurer they intended to travel overseas (making last minute trips more difficult)
  • Major disruption for commercial fleets, who would have needed a new certificate for each individual vehicle (requiring them to regularly provide updated information to their insurer)
  • Creates particular problems if someone’s insurance is due for renewal overseas – they would need to arrange for a replacement document to be sent for them (possibly from their new insurer)
  • Additional problems if any driver loses or misplaces their Green Card documents while overseas – they would need to arrange for a replacement document to be sent for them

All of this additional administration would create additional costs – associated both with the cost of providing the Green Card documents and building new IT systems to verify the documents – which would have added costs to already hard-pressed motor insurance customers.




Notes for Editors

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Last updated 17/05/2018