Your Guide to Driving a UK Car in Europe

From vehicle insurance to GB stickers, there are a range of legal requirements that must be obeyed when driving a UK car in Europe. Read our guide.
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Driving a UK car in Europe this year? You’ll need to have the right documents and understand the latest laws and regulations to guarantee a smooth trip.

From vehicle insurance and first aid kits, there are a range of requirements that must be obeyed when driving a UK car abroad.

This helpful guide will tell you everything you need to know about driving a UK car in Europe in the post-Brexit era.

Your Guide to Driving a UK Car in Europe

What Do I Need to Drive a UK Car in Europe?

UK drivers must adhere to numerous laws and regulations when taking a car to the continent. From essential safety equipment to important legal documents, there are many requirements for driving in Europe.

Whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure, there are many things you may not be aware of when driving a UK car on the continent.

This guide will provide all the information you need for planning your next road trip abroad.

1. What Vehicle Insurance Cover Do I Need?

When you take out a UK vehicle insurance policy, you’ll get the minimum third-party cover to drive in the European Union (EU). This includes driving in Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia, and Switzerland.

However, there are limitations with third-party insurance as it only covers liability for damages if you injure someone else or their passengers or property. Therefore, if the car you’re driving is damaged or stolen, or if you’re involved in an accident, you’ll still have to pay for any vehicle repairs or a replacement plus any medical expenses if you’re hurt or require hospital treatment.

Before you set off for the continent, it’s important to review your insurance policy to understand exactly what you’re covered for, and what you’re not when driving in the EU. Similarly, if you’re planning to drive in non-EU countries within Europe, you’re likely to need additional insurance.

If you have a permanent address in Europe, you’ll require specialist international insurance to drive abroad.

2. What Documents Do I Need?

When driving in Europe, you’ll need to take a bunch of important documents with you including proof of your vehicle insurance. You’ll need: 

Full, valid UK driving licence Travel insurance documents
National Insurance number V5C certificate (the vehicle’s log book)
Proof of vehicle insurance Proof of ID (passport)
European Breakdown Cover documents and policy number Valid vehicle tax and MOT certificate

If you’re driving in France, you may also need a Crit’Air sticker to identify your vehicle’s emission levels. This is a legal requirement in some French cities, and failure to display one in your windscreen can result in an on-the-spot fine of up to €135. You can check if you require a Crit’Air sticker here.

3. Do I Need an International Driving Permit (IDP)?

No, you do not require an International Driving Permit to drive in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, or Switzerland if you have a valid, in-date photocard driving licence issued in the UK.

However, you may need an IDP to drive in some EU countries and Norway if your licence was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey, or the Isle of Man. You can also seek clarification by contacting the embassy of the country you’ll be driving in. If you require an IDP, they cost £5.50 and are available from most UK Post Offices.

4. Do I Need a Green Card?

No, you do not need a green card to drive in the EU. Since August 2021, UK drivers are no longer required to obtain a green card when taking their vehicle to any EU country including Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Serbia, and Switzerland. However, you’ll still need valid vehicle insurance when driving in these countries.

Other countries such as Morocco, Tunisia, and Turkey have their own laws for motorists and may require you to carry a green card in order to legally drive. If you’re unsure whether you need a green card to drive, it’s best to check the UK Government’s official foreign travel advice before you leave.

5. Do I Need A GB Car Sticker When Driving Abroad?

In September 2021, the old GB stickers for cars and vehicles were replaced by UK stickers. This means the national identifier or distinguishing mark displayed on UK-registered vehicles that are driven abroad or in the EU has changed from GB to UK.

The UK national identifier can be part of the vehicle number plate or as a separate sticker. If you’ll be driving in Cyprus, Malta, or Spain you must display a UK sticker clearly on the rear of the vehicle, regardless of what is displayed on your registration number plate.

Your vehicle must also have a clearly displayed UK sticker if your number plate has:

  • a GB national identifier including the Union flag
  • a European Union symbol
  • the national flag of England, Scotland, or Wales
  • only letters and numbers

You do not need a UK sticker if your number plate includes a UK identifier with the Union flag. Similarly, you don’t require a UK sticker or number plate to drive in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland.

If your vehicle already has a GB sticker, you must remove it or cover it up if you’re planning to drive abroad.

Your Guide to Driving a UK Car in Europe

Compulsory Equipment Checklist for Driving a UK Car in Europe

When driving in Europe, you are required to carry a number of items in your vehicle for legal and safety reasons.
These are compulsory in numerous countries, and failure to comply can result in penalties and fines.

The following checklist will ensure you have all the equipment you need for driving abroad :

Hi-vis reflective jackets One for each passenger kept within the vehicle cabin.UK car sticker If your number plate doesn’t have a UK identifier with the Union Jack flag.
Warning triangle Compulsory in most European countries.First aid kit Compulsory in Austria, France, and Germany.
Headlamp beam deflectors Either deflector stickers or adjust the beam, depending on your vehicle.Safety helmets Compulsory for motorcycle riders and passenger and moped users

While not compulsory nor a legal requirement, we recommend you take the following items with you when driving in Europe in case you’re unable to find them in the country or countries you’re visiting :

Fire extinguisherBlankets
Replacement headlight bulbsDrinking water
TorchSun cream
Spare fuel canExtra medication
Extra engine oil and waterCopies of important documents (driving licence, passport, V5C certificate, vehicle insurance, travel insurance etc)
Road map or Sat-NavUK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)
Your Guide to Driving a UK Car in Europe

Driving a UK car in Europe post-Brexit

Free movement of UK citizens travelling to the European Union ended after Brexit. However, the UK and EU both encourage visa-free travel for short-term visits like holidays.

Read our FAQs regarding driving in the EU after Brexit:

Can I Drive My UK Car in Europe After Brexit?

Yes, you can still drive your UK vehicle on mainland Europe post-Brexit. However, to legally drive in an EU country, you’ll need to have a UK sticker clearly displayed on the rear of your vehicle as a mandatory requirement.

Is My EU Driving Licence Valid After Brexit?

The UK Government issued the following advice regarding EU licence holders in the UK:

“EU licence-holders living in the UK can continue to use their licence if it is valid, subject to UK licence requirements. This means an EU licence must be changed to a UK licence at the age of 70, or three years after the driver becomes a resident, whichever is later.”

Is My Car Insurance Still Valid in Europe After Brexit?

Yes, in most cases car insurance remains valid in Europe in post-Brexit times. It is always best to speak with your insurer to confirm if you are covered and to what degree before embarking on any journey abroad.

Do You Require Vehicle Insurance for Driving a UK Car in Europe?

Keith Michaels has over Keith Michaels has over 30 years’ experience of arranging specialist car insurance including expat car insurance.
If you would like expert advice about vehicle insurance, contact us today.

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