At the moment, UK driving licences may be used to drive anywhere in the EEA (this is the EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway).
If Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement is passed, UK licences will still be valid for visiting EEA countries.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, then the situation gets complicated.
The government will try to do deals allowing UK licences to be recognised for visits to Europe. But if it doesn’t manage to do so, then drivers will need an International Driving Permit (IDP) for all EEA countries except the Republic of Ireland. IDPs can be bought at Post Offices for £5.50. You may also need to carry your UK driving licence.
There are three different types of IDP, known as the 1926, 1949 and 1968 IDPs – the numbers refer to the dates of the conventions on road traffic that established them.
- The 1926 IDP will be needed for drivers wanting to visit Liechtenstein
- The 1949 permit covers Spain, Iceland, Malta and Cyprus
- The 1968 permit allows driving in all other EU countries, plus Norway and Switzerland
There will also be changes to the types of IDP you need to be able to drive in countries outside the EEA. For example, if you want to visit Turkey by car before 29 March, you will need a 1949 IDP – but after 29 March, you will need a 1968 IDP. You can find the full list of which IDP you need on this page.
IDPs apply only for visiting other countries. If you are a UK licence-holder living in another EU country, then you need to exchange your UK licence for a licence issued by an EU country, before the UK leaves. If you wait until after the UK leaves, then you may need to take another driving test.
EU and EEA licenses will continue to be accepted in the UK for visitors and residents.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, you will also need to get a Green Card from your insurer to prove your car is covered.
The Green Card is only proof of a minimum level of third-party cover – it will not necessarily match the level of cover that you pay for in the UK. Check with your insurer to find out what level of cover you will get.
Taking your car to the EEA without a Green Card will be against the law.
The government recommends that you have a GB sticker on your car, even if you also have a GB symbol on your number plate.
Perhaps most inconveniently, if you are involved in a road traffic accident in an EEA country after a no-deal Brexit, then you may need to make a claim against the responsible driver or their insurer in the country where the accident happened.
And that could involve bringing the claim in the local language.