Driving abroad after Brexit

When it comes to driving abroad, some rules and regulations have changed as a result ofBrexit. If you are planning to drive on your next trip, whether you’re taking your own car or hiring a vehicle, it is important to understand the changes and plan ahead. Read on to find out more.

Driving in Europe after Brexit

Depending on your destination, you might need a few additional documents when driving abroad after Brexit, so make sure you prepare ahead for your trip.

If you are driving in Europe, you may be required to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) prior to departure if your valid photocard driving licence was not issued in the UK. This refers to paper licences that were issued by the respective authorities of Gibraltar, Guernsey, or the Isle of Man. . An IDP is an internationally recognised translation of your local driving licence into a format that is accepted by the country you’re visiting, and can easily be obtained at the post office. There are three types of IDP and the one you’ll need depends on the country you’re visiting. You can also find out the specific requirements of the country you’ll be driving in by checking their embassy site here.

If you are planning to drive in more than one country, you might need more than one type. If you are driving your own car, you will also need a Green Card (or International Motor Insurance Card), which is a certificate of insurance that proves you have the minimum insurance required to drive in the country you’re visiting. It is recognised internationally in almost 50 countries and bound to the vehicle you’ll be driving, and you can usually get it from an insurance company. If you’re driving a caravan or with a trailer, you may need a Green Card for those too, so make sure you inform yourself well in advance to ensure you are equipped with the necessary documentation prior to travel. When applying for a Green Card, allow yourself at least six weeks before your trip to ensure you receive it in time.

The last item you will need to include is a GB sticker, which you will have to place at the back of your car. Please note that these documents are not required when driving in Ireland.

Please also note that certain changes have been introduced regarding pets as well as trip duration, passport validity and health insurance:

Trip Duration

While UK Nationals were able to travel to the EU for an unlimited period as members of the European Union, they must now ensure that their passports are no more than 10 years old and have at least six months’ validity left on them. Please see the government’s guidelines here for more information. Visas are not required for British Nationals who are planning on holidaying in the EU for fewer than 90 days in total out of 180. This does, however, mean that the combined time spent in any of the EU countries, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland or Iceland over the course of 180 consecutive days is part of the 90-day total. Trips taken to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, or Romania are not included as part of this 90-day total.

Note travel to Ireland is less restrictive and the majority if not all the regulations stipulated in the above are not necessary.

Health Insurance

Alongside appropriate car insurance, UK Nationals will now be required to have appropriate health insurance before they travel to the EU. If you have an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card), you will be covered for the length of its validity. Upon expiry you can apply for the UK’s new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) with coverage in EU countries. They are both free of charge.

Note that the GHIC does not, however, cover health services in non-EU countries (Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland), so please check your travel insurance to make sure you are covered for all and any issues arising in those countries.

Pets

UK Nationals whose pets have a UK-issued pet passport are to be advised that these are no longer valid. You will now be required to obtain an Animal Health Certificate (AHC), meaning your animal(s) will need to have blood tests undertaken, the results of which can take up to three months to get back. This is particularly important to consider when you are planning your trip abroad.

Pets are also required to be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies. If you are travelling to Finland, Malta, Northern Ireland, Ireland or Norway, they will also need tapeworm treatment.

How to hire a car abroad after Brexit – a checklist

If you’re planning on hiring a car abroad, the first things you need to organise are the right documents. You will need a full and valid photocard driving licence and a valid passport, then depending on the country you’re visiting you might need an International Driving Permit as well. Hiring a car can be a stressful experience for some, as there are so many factors to consider. Below is a list of the most important things to watch out for when looking for a car to hire abroad:

1. Age restrictions

Most countries have limitations for young drivers when it comes to car hire. If you are under 25, look out for the minimum car hire age of the country you’re going to. You will most likely have to pay an additional surcharge and you might be limited in the type of vehicle you can hire abroad. A few countries also have an upper age limit for hiring a car, so if you are a senior make sure you research whether you fall below the set maximum age.

2. Payment method

If you prefer not to own a credit card or not to use it for hiring a car, you’ll be glad to know that nowadays most major car hire companies also accept debit cards. However, even with a global company, you will find that the rules can change according to the country, so make sure you inform yourself about payment rules in the country you’ll be visiting.

3. Car insurance

Incidents happen when you least expect them to, and if they do while you’re driving a hire car on your holiday, you’ll want to make sure you have car insurance for driving abroad. There are many types of insurance and it’s important to research all your options. While it may be convenient to purchase your insurance from the car hire company, make sure you read all the fine print and shop around, as third-party insurance providers might offer you a better deal.

4. Hidden costs

Beware of hidden costs that might be sprung on you and read the car hire contract well before you sign it. Look out for limited mileage which, if exceeded, will cost you a fee per extra mile or kilometre travelled. In the case of a claim, some companies charge admin fees in addition to the excess. Make sure you also check if you will be charged a cleaning fee, or if the company charges an additional fee for late pickups and returns.

5. Cost of driving

If you’re planning on driving long distances, make sure you take into consideration the cost of being on the road. In addition to fuel, you might have to pay toll fees. These could add up, but some prior research will give you an idea of which costs to expect and whether or not you can amend your route to avoid them.

6. Cross-border fees

Driving a hire car across national borders is typically possible depending on your hire car policy. Do make sure that you check prior to travelling what you can and can’t do though, as some companies may have different rules. Learn more

7. Returning the car

At the end of your hire period, make sure you give yourself enough time to refuel the car on your way back to the car hire office. Take photos of the outside and the inside of the car to keep as proof of the condition in which you returned it.

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Driving a hired car in another country

It is possible to drive a car you hired in one country into another country, however, you must inform the hire company about your plans when making a booking. This will give them the chance to prepare all the documentation you need for each country you’ll be visiting, especially if you need to cross between Schengen and non-Schengen countries. Some special rules also apply if you are driving from EU to non-EU countries, and in these cases the company might need to ensure that the car you hire complies with the rules and regulations in all destinations. You must also ensure that you have car hire insurance that covers you in all the countries you will be passing through.

Car insurance when driving abroad

If you are driving your own car in Europe you will need to get a Green Card (or International Motor Insurance Card), which is proof of insurance that covers you throughout the EU and across approximately 50 countries in total. If you are driving a hire car, there are several types of car insurance you can buy and these can be confusing. The important ones to consider are:

  • Collision Damage Waiver: Covers damage done to the exterior or bodywork of the car.
  • Personal Accident Insurance: Covers the driver in the case of injury.
  • Supplemental Liability Insurance: This is a third-party liability insurance and might already be included in your hire agreement.
  • Breakdown Cover: This insurance covers you if your car breaks down and you need roadside assistance, recovery or repairs. Some insurance companies will have varying options available to policyholders when driving abroad, so please bear this in mind.
  • Car Hire Excess Insurance: Takes care of the excess that you might have to pay in case of a claim with any of the other insurance policies.

You can find out more about car hire insurance by reading our full-length article.

Driving abroad FAQs

Depending on your destination, you might need a few additional documents when driving abroad now the UK has left the European Union.
If you are driving in Europe, some countries might require an International Driving Permit (IDP) now the UK is no longer part of the European Union, however, this only applies to holders of driving licences issued by a non-mainland UK authority such as Gibraltar, Jersey and the Isle of Man. An IDP is an internationally recognised translation of your local driving licence into a format that is accepted by the country you’re visiting. If you are planning to drive in more than one country, you might need more than one type, so be sure to check out the GOV.uk website for more information.

If you are driving your own car, you will also need a Green Card.

If you’re planning on hiring a car abroad, the first things you need to organise are the right documents. You will need a full and valid photocard driving licence and a valid passport, then depending on the country you’re visiting and the type of licence you hold, you might need an International Driving Permit as well.

Hiring a car on KAYAK takes less than 10 minutes if you know what documents you need and what you’re looking for. Learn how to hire a car with our step-by-step guide.

While most countries have set the minimum age for hiring a car at 21 years, the minimum age for hiring a car can vary from country to country according to local regulations. Different companies within the same country can also have varying regulations as some prefer to raise the minimum driving age. Find out more in our full-length articles on age restrictions in different countries.

The important car insurance insurance types to consider for driving abroad are Collision Damage Waiver, Personal Accident Insurance, Supplemental Liability Insurance, Breakdown Cover and Car Hire Excess Insurance.

British passport holders living in or wishing to travel to the EU and EU nationals living in or wishing to travel to the UK from the 1st January 2021 are to be advised that all travel-related information found on our website is based on current UK/EU relations and, therefore, may still be subject to change. Please visit this this official webpage to inform yourself about all and any information pertinent to Brexit when making travel decisions.