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Travelling to the EU in the case of a No-Deal Brexit

The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020. During the transition period, which ends on 31 December 2020, the UK will continue to comply with EU rules and regulations, while discussions continue on any future trading relationship. 

In the event of no deal, there will be some important implications for UK travellers to the EU.

To ensure people planning to travel abroad after 31 December 2020 can make the necessary preparation and have the necessary paper work before they travel, we are issuing the following guidance to travellers with ample notice. 

This information may change subject to the outcome of the Brexit negotiations and we will keep these pages updated. 

Taking your vehicle to the EU

Anyone taking their vehicle to the EU will be required to carry with them a Green Card.
This is an international certificate of insurance, issued by insurance providers in the UK, guaranteeing that the motorist has the necessary third-party motor insurance for the countrries they are driving in.

This includes motorists in Northern Ireland driving to and from the Republic of Ireland.

A Green Card is usually free (there may be an administrative charge) and you should contact your insurer to obtain one. We would suggest doing this a month before you plan to travel.

If you travel without a Green Card, you will be breaking the law; risking a fine, seizure of your vehicle, or prosecution.

Driving in Europe FAQs

  • Will I still be able to use my insurance to drive in other EU member states after 31 December?

    Yes. All UK motor insurance providers will continue to provide the legal minimum motor insurance cover for travel to European Economic Area countries (EEA - all EU countries, plus Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein). 

    If you are a UK motorist, you will, therefore, not need to purchase additional third-party motor insurance policy cover when travelling to these countries with a UK-registered vehicle. You would continue to hold the same third-party cover that you do now. 

  • Does this apply for driving across the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland border?

    Northern Ireland residents travelling to the Republic of Ireland:

    Yes. You should contact your insurer to arrange for the appropriate Green Card documents.

    Republic of Ireland residents travelling to Northern Ireland:

    No. Valid Irish insurance discs will be accepted as proof of insurance for Irish vehicles.

  • Do I need to carry any additional documents if I am driving with a caravan or trailer?

    Yes. If your vehicle is towing a trailer or caravan, you will need two Green Cards. One for the towing vehicle and one for the trailer, or caravan.

  • If I have a multi-car policy will I need a Green Card for each vehicle insured?

    Yes. A Green Card is required to cover the registration number of the individual vehicle, so a Green Card will be needed to cover each vehicle insured under one policy when being driven in the EU. 

  • Do I need to tell my insurer I plan to drive in another EU member state?

    Yes. You will need to contact your motor insurer in advance of any trip to arrange for Green Card documents to be provided. We would suggest you contact them about one month in advance. This will apply to any motor vehicle and to all forms of motor insurance – including commercial and motor fleet policies.  

    Private motorists are already advised to contact their insurer in advance of overseas travel (including within the EU) to arrange for other aspects of their cover to be extended to the period while driving abroad (including cover for accidental damage to the vehicle). The exact arrangements for this will depend on the level of cover taken out when you bought the policy. 

  • Will there be any additional charges?

    It is possible that there may be a small administrative charge associated with the provision of Green Card documents.  

    In addition, if you have fully comprehensive insurance, you will need to contact your insurer to check what aspects of this apply while you are driving abroad. Some insurers will allow you to purchase additional cover for when you are driving abroad.

  • Is my insurer ready to issue Green Cards?

    Yes. Insurers have been preparing for this 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.

  • Do I need to tell my insurer anything before the end of the EU-UK transitional period on 31 December?

    Yes. If you are planning a trip to an EU member state during or shortly after 31 December, you will need to contact your insurer in advance (about one month before you plan to travel) to ensure you have the documentation you need for your trip. 

    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 I have to tell my insurer in advance, how much notice will I need to give?

    In order to allow sufficient time to process documents, you will need to give your insurer sufficient notice of your intention to travel in advance. So, it is best to contact them about one month in advance.  

    It is a requirement that your Green Card document covers a period of a minimum of 15 days. Therefore, if your motor insurance policy is due to expire less than 15 days after the date of travel, you will need to ensure you have confirmed your renewal before you depart (even if your trip is less than 15 days in total).  

    As is the case with other forms of travel documentation, you may also need to allow additional time if you are travelling at a busy period, such as during the summer or around a Bank Holiday.  

    Further guidance will be provided by your insurer in advance of the 31 December confirming exactly what information you will need to provide and how much notice you will need to give.  

  • What happens if I have not received a Green Card?

    If you are not carrying a Green Card when it is required, then you will not be able to drive legally in any EU member state. If you do attempt to drive in the EU without holding a Green Card, you may be accused of driving without insurance and could face a fine, having your vehicle seized, or prosecution.  

    The only other legal option available would be to purchase insurance locally when you arrive in the country (often known as ‘frontier insurance’). However, such insurance cover may not be widely available and may be more expensive than UK-issued policies. 

  • Do I need to have a paper copy of a Green Card when I travel or will a digital version be ok?

    You will need to have a physical copy with you when you travel – your insurer can either send you a physical copy of the green card, or can send you a digital copy which you must print out – either will be acceptable.

  • Will a digital version be acceptable?

    No, you will need to have a physical copy. A digital copy stored on a mobile device, such as an iPhone or tablet, will not be accepted.  You can either request for your insurer to post you a hard copy of the document, or they can send you a digital version which you must print out.

  • Do I need to print my green card on green paper or card?

    No, there is no longer a requirement for the green card to be printed onto green coloured paper.  Printing the green card document onto white paper will be valid.  However, you must have a physical copy of the green card as a digital version will not be accepted.

  • What if my policy is due for renewal when I am abroad?

    You will need two Green Cards - one for each policy. If you change insurers, ask both your existing and your new insurer to provide you with a Green Card.

  • Will I need to show my insurance documents when I cross the border into the EU? Will I also need to show the documents when I move from one EU member state to another? 

    You may be required to show documents at the border when entering the EU, but this will be a decision for the border authorities to take. You may also be subject to police checks while driving abroad and you will also need to be able to present the document at the scene if you are involved in an accident.


Travel insurance and the EHIC

Leaving with no deal will mean that the EHIC agreement (European Health Insurance Card) will cease unless the UK has negotiated any reciprocal agreements with individual EU countries. The EHIC gives you access to the same state-provided healthcare available to a resident.

If the EHIC ceases to be valid it will make travel insurance more important than ever to have.

Travel Insurance FAQs

  • What is the EHIC?

    An EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) gives you access to the same state-provided healthcare available to a resident. You can get it for free from the NHS. However, it is not a substitute for having travel insurance as it will not cover all medical costs, or the cost of emergency repatriation back to the UK. 

  • Will my travel insurance cover me for the healthcare currently under EHIC?

    Travel insurance policies will cover emergency medical treatment costs as standard that could have been reclaimed through the EHIC, although routine treatments, like check-ups and treatments for managing existing conditions, would not be covered.

    Travel insurance policies will also continue to cover emergency medical expenses incurred in countries outside of the European Economic Area (EEA - all EU countries, plus Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein). 

    Be aware that there is a small number of policies in the market that state they will only provide cover if you have and use an EHIC. Customers in this position should check their policy and contact their insurer. 

  • Will entitlement to state healthcare when visiting an EU country cease immediately if we have not agreed a deal with the EU when the transition period ends in December 2020?

    Yes, although not for those UK travellers in the EU on the day the transition period ends. The UK government has said that in the event of there not being an agreed deal with the EU, they will continue to pay for the state healthcare for anyone travelling in the EU on 31 December until they return to the UK. For anyone travelling or moving to the EU after the end of the transition period, reciprocal health arrangements will cease without a deal to continue EHIC arrangements.

  • Is the Government seeking to agree any reciprocal health agreements with individual EU states if a deal with the EU is not agreed for after the transition period?

    Yes. The Government may be able to agree reciprocal health agreements with individual EU states, just as it already has with other countries, such as Australia and New Zealand. Any agreements may not be known until closer to the end of the transition period. 

  • Will my travel insurance policy become more expensive?

    Claims costs within Europe are currently reduced due to the presence of the EHIC, which covers some or all state-provided medical costs in most EEA countries. In the absence of the EHIC or similar reciprocal health agreement, insurers will inevitably see an increase in claims costs – this could have a direct impact on the prices charged to consumers. This will vary depending on the provider. 

  • Will insurers be changing their terms and conditions to accommodate this?

    For many travel policies in the market, the loss of the EHIC is unlikely to lead to a meaningful change to terms and conditions; any reference to the EHIC would simply be irrelevant and customers would still be able to make medical claims. However, for those policies where an EHIC must be in place and used, changes are likely. Pragmatically, insurers would look to make reasonable changes to policy wordings where necessary and to avoid customer confusion. 

  • I have a pre-existing condition. Will I still be able to afford to travel in Europe?

    Most travel insurance policies already require customers to declare any pre-existing medical conditions and, depending upon the type and severity of conditions, cover is often still available. This process already applies to countries where there are no reciprocal health agreements and will continue to apply for trips within Europe should the EHIC be discontinued. As insurers will incur increased claims costs for treatment received within Europe this could have a direct impact on the prices charged to consumers. This will vary depending on the provider.  

    Without the EHIC protection, it will be even more important to ensure that you have travel insurance that is adequate for your needs and this may involve paying more to protect yourself against significant medical costs when previously you may have chosen to rely upon the EHIC. 

  • I have retired/am planning to retire in France. What access to healthcare will I get?

    Travel insurance will only cover temporary stays abroad, for periods not exceeding the trip duration you have chosen. It does not cover those who are living abroad on a permanent or semi-permanent basis and most travel policies require that, to be eligible for cover, customers have their main home in the UK and are registered with a doctor in the UK.