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Driving in the EU post-Brexit: What you need to know

Now that the United Kingdom has officially left the European Union, there are several changes you need to be aware of before travelling abroad.  Likewise, if you are living abroad make sure you are meeting the legal requirements within the country that you reside in.

European motorway

International Driving Permits

If you are looking to drive abroad, you may need an International Driving Permit (IDP). This document essentially lets you drive in Europe, but it is important to note that it should be used to complement your driving licence, it is not a replacement.

Most UK drivers will still be able to drive abroad with their UK driving licence photocard, it is only those with a paper driving licence, and those with driving licences issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey, or the Isle of Man who may need to obtain an International Driving Permit before travelling

There is no need to be alarmed – International Driving Permits are priced from £5.50 and can be purchased from the Post Office.  There is a choice of duration for the permits ranging from 1 to 3 years, so do your research to make sure you are obtaining the right one for you.

UK Drivers Living Abroad

You may be required to exchange your UK driving licence for a local driving licence. You may not need to take another test, but this varies depending on what country you reside in. You can find out more information here.


You will need to carry a physical copy of a ‘green card’ to drive your personal vehicle within Europe, and the rest of the world. A green card is essentially proof that you have vehicle insurance when driving abroad.

If you are travelling abroad towing a caravan or a trailer, you will need a green card for the towing vehicle and another for the trailer/caravan.

A green card can be obtained from your insurance provider who will either post it to your residential address within 6 weeks or they can send an electronic copy which must be printed before you leave the UK.

GB Stickers

If you have a UK registered vehicle you are now required to display a GB sticker on your vehicle when driving in Europe and Ireland.  It became a requirement post Brexit that when heading out of the UK into neighbouring countries that the GB identifier became mandatory.  If your number plate has a GB national identifier already displayed on it, then you do not need an additional sticker.

However, if you are going to be driving your personal vehicle in Spain, Cyprus or Malta, it is compulsory in these countries to display a GB sticker regardless of if you have an identifier on your number plate. 

The sticker should be applied to the rear of your vehicle and be easily visible.  It is advisable to check the requirements of each country you are planning to drive in, as rules will vary from one country to another.

silver car with GB sticker

Changes To Traffic Fines 

As the UK has now left the EU, you can no longer be pursued by EU member states for a traffic offence if the vehicle you were driving at the time is registered to the UK.

So, if you’re caught on a speed camera along a German Autobahn, the German authorities cannot pursue you for it. However, it’s worth noting that if you were stopped by the police for a traffic infringement, you would still be required to settle the fine.

Things are slightly different if you are caught in a rental car. In most cases, your rental vehicle will be registered to the country you are hiring in and the rental company will be registered as the keeper of the vehicle. This means any fines in a rental vehicle will go to the rental company who will either debit the charge your credit card or contact you directly and request the funds, the rental company will often levy an admin fee for this too.  

It’s worth keeping in mind that different European countries have different legal limits for drinking and driving, so it’s always a good idea to familiarise yourself with the local laws for the country you’re travelling to. The legal limit in the UK is 0.08% but each EU member country can set their own legal limits.

Some countries even have more than one legal limit for drinking and driving, France, for example, has two legal limits: 0.02% and 0.05 %. The 0.02% limit is applicable to younger drivers and those who have held their license for less than three years, while the 0.05% applies to older drivers and more experienced drivers.

If you are planning to drive abroad this summer don’t forget about car hire excess insurance or private motor excess insurance, whether you are hiring or using your own vehicle you don’t want to dampen your holiday spirit with an excess loss in the event of something happening.

Want to know more about car hire excess insurance or private motor excess insurance, follow the links for more details.

Date Created: 16/06/2021

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