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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 authorities in EU countries recognise the documents – or could I still be told I need to buy cover from a local insurer while I am driving abroad? 

    EU member states will all recognise the Green Card document. Provided you have these documents, you will not need to purchase additional insurance from a local insurer.   

    The Green Card system has a standardised format that has been agreed by all EU member states (including the UK) and is currently used for travel outside the EU to other Green Card member countries (you can find a full list of Green Card member countries here.)  

  •  If I have comprehensive motor insurance, will this automatically cover me if my car is damaged or stolen abroad?

    All UK motor insurance providers will continue to provide the legal minimum motor insurance cover for travel to EEA countries if the driver is carrying a valid Green Card. You will, therefore, not need to purchase additional third-party motor insurance cover when travelling to these countries with a UK-registered vehicle.

    Fully comprehensive motor insurance provides coverage for you and your vehicle as well as other people – this is more than is provided by third-party policies.

    Not all insurers will automatically extend fully comprehensive cover for travel abroad, so it is advisable to carefully read your policy documents and contact your insurer to check what aspects of your policy apply while you are driving abroad.

  • I drive in the EU regularly in my own private car. Will I need to tell my insurer every time I travel?    

    A Green Card will automatically provide you with a guarantee of insurance for a minimum of 15 days. Insurers can also specify that it covers a longer period if this is required, so ask for this if you need it.  

    However, at the point at which you renew your motor insurance policy, you will also need to ensure you have a new Green Card for your new policy (even if you are still abroad on the date your original policy expires). If you decide to switch to a new insurer, you will need to request a new Green Card from that insurer as well.

  • Do I need to tell them what countries I will be visiting? Are the rules different depending on where I intend to travel?

    Travelling to EU member states only – the Green Card document itself is designed so it can be used in the same way across every EU member state. The Green Card will specify which countries you are allowed to drive in. Under the current rules, it will always cover you for each EU member state. However, your insurer may still ask you to confirm which countries you intend to travel to.   

    If travelling to a Green Card country that is not an EU member state then you will need to inform your insurer which countries you will be visiting as you will not automatically be covered for driving in any country outside the EU, even if they are part of the Green Card system.

  • I run a business where I employ drivers who regularly cross the border into the EU. Can I arrange their insurance for them or will they need their own documents?  

    As an employer, you will be able to arrange insurance cover on behalf of your employees, as you do today.  

    However, 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.

    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.

    If your employees change vehicles, they will need to carry the Green Card that is registered to the registration of the vehicle they are driving.

    If the vehicle is towing a trailer, you will also need a separate green card for that trailer.

  • Can I obtain a Green Card to cover my fleet of vehicles?

    A Green Card is required to cover the registration number of the individual vehicle, regardless of whether it is part of a fleet. One Green Card will be needed to cover each vehicle insured under one policy when being driven in the EU. 

    Most commercial fleet motor policies will have been purchased through a broker.  If this is the case then businesses should speak to their broker about issuing Green Cards. Some brokers may have the ability to issue green cards on behalf of the insurer, others will go via the insurer.

    If your employees change vehicles, they will need to carry the Green Card that is registered to the registration of the vehicle they are driving.

    If the vehicle is towing a trailer, you will also need a separate green card for that trailer.

    It may be the case that the insurer/broker doesn’t have the detailed registration of each vehicle within your fleet.  You may need to provide this information to your insurer or broker if requested.

  • My business has vehicles regularly driving across the Northern Irish border. Do those vehicles require a green card?

    Yes. It is particularly important to ensure that any vehicle driving across the Northern Irish border has a Green Card.

  • Can I use the documents insurers provide to rent or borrow a vehicle while I am in an EU member state? 

    No. If Green Card documents are provided, this will only apply to your own UK-registered vehicle.  If you want to rent or borrow a vehicle, you will need to arrange insurance separately and your Green Card will not cover this.  

     

  • What happens if I am involved in an accident abroad that I may be wholly or partly responsible for – do I need to contact my insurer? 

    Yes. You will need to contact your insurer as soon as possible. You will also need to ask for the insurance details of the other driver and we would also strongly recommend you gather as much evidence as you can about what happened in the accident, including taking photos if possible.

  • Do I need a European Accident Statement?

    No. The European Accident Statement is a standardised document to make it easier for drivers involved in an accident to exchange facts, but you are not required to carry a copy of the European Accident Statement in your car. Your insurer may provide you with a copy alongside your Green Card. 

     

  • What help will I receive if I am involved in an accident that was not my fault while driving in the EU?  

    Through the Green Card scheme, the UK has well-established relationships with motor insurers in each member state to facilitate the settlement of claims for any incidents involving cross-border drivers.  

    However, the current ‘visiting victims’ arrangement for when a UK citizen is injured in a car accident in another EU member state will not be in place from 31 December. If you need to make an insurance claim against an EU-registered insurer, you will be subject to the local legal system and your claim may be treated differently to how it would be in the UK.

  • If I do not intend to use my car in another EU member state and only plan to drive in the UK, will this have any impact on my car insurance?  

    No. If you do not intend to use your car outside of the UK, you will not need to arrange for your insurer to issue you with a Green Card and there will not be any impact on your insurance cover.  

  • Will the rules for driving abroad change when the UK-EU transition period comes to an end?

    In addition to the potential changes to insurance rules, there will be a number of significant changes to driving rules and licensing requirements that take effect if there is no-deal. You will need to comply with all these requirements under the terms of your motor insurance policy.

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.