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Brexit: Insurance advice for motorists in Northern Ireland

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is reminding motorists in Northern Ireland that they  will need to carry an insurance green card when  driving across the border to the Republic of Ireland (as well as the rest of the EU), at the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December, unless there is an agreement to the contrary.

The Green Card is an international certificate of insurance proving visiting motorists have the minimum compulsory motor insurance cover required by the law of the country visited.

All European Economic Area (EEA) countries (EU countries, and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) are part of a Green Card free circulation area, meaning that motorists based there do not have to carry Green Cards when visiting other countries in the area. However, when the transition period ends then UK motorists will be required to carry Green Cards for driving in the Republic and other EU states, unless the European Commission agrees that the UK can remain in the Green Card scheme.

Motor insurers have been preparing for the end of the transition period and will be able to issue Green Cards in time for your trip. We recommend that you contact your insurer around one month before you plan to travel. Your insurer will issue guidance in advance of the official date of the end of the transition period, confirming what information will need to be provided and when, if there is no deal. 

A Green Card   provides a guarantee of insurance for a minimum of 15 days. If you frequently drive across the border, talk to your insurer or broker to ask if they can provide one that covers a longer period if this is required.  Some insurers may provide you with a Green Card that lasts for a year.

The ABI has a detailed Q. and A. on what you need to know in the event of a no deal.

Green Cards – five things to know.

Will I need to have a physical copy with me when I drive across the border?

  • Yes. Your insurer can either send you a physical copy, or a digital copy which you must print out – either will be acceptable. A digital copy stored on a mobile device, such as an iPhone or tablet, will not be accepted.  You can either ask your insurer to post you a hard copy of the document, or they can send you a digital version which you must print out.

If I make frequent trips across the border will I need a fresh Green Card for every trip?

  • A Green Card will automatically provide you with a guarantee of insurance for a minimum of 15 days. If you frequently drive across the border, talk to your insurer or broker. Some may provide Green Cards that last for a year.

As an employer, my employees make frequent business trips across the border. Will I be able to arrange insurance cover on behalf of your employees, as you do today?  

  • Most commercial fleet motor policies will have been purchased through a broker.  If this is the case, then speak to your broker about how to obtain Green Cards. Some brokers may have the ability to issue Green Cards on behalf of the insurer, others will go through the insurer.
  • Each of your employees will have an individual legal responsibility to carry these documents. Driving for employment or business purposes would not exempt anyone from needing to carry a Green Card.  The Green Card is associated with the registration of the vehicle, not the driver.

What about motorists driving across the border from the Republic?

  • For Republic of Ireland registered vehicles, the insurance disc will serve as proof of insurance to the legal authorities in the UK, including Northern Ireland.

What happens if I drive across the border without a Green card?

  • This means that you will be failing to comply with the legal requirement in the Republic (or other EU country) to carry a Green Card, and will risk having your vehicle seized, and facing prosecution.   

Carol Hall, ABI’s Assistant Director, Head of European & International Affairs, said:

Motorists in Northern Ireland need to be geared up for the end of the transition period on 31 December. Motor insurers have planned for this and are ready to help and advise customers on what they need to do to ensure that they are driving legally in the Republic.”

More general information about driving your vehicle in the EU after the end of the transition period are here.


Last updated 19/11/2020