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Green Cards Required for Driving in Europe in 2021

Until 31 December 2020, the UK is still part of the European ‘free circulation zone’ meaning UK motorists can legally drive their vehicles in any European Economic Area (EEA) country (EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) as well as Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland. This means they do not have to carry any evidence of insurance other than their standard EU ‘First Directive on Motor Insurance’-compliant motor insurance certificate.

Will a Green Card be required after Brexit?

The UK’s participation in the free circulation zone will come to a swift end the moment the transition agreement expires at 23.00 on 31 December 2020. This means every driver taking their vehicle abroad after that date will have to carry what is termed a Green Card – a document that guarantees they have the minimum motor insurance cover legally required for driving in the countries that they are visiting.

Ensuring you have a valid Green Card for driving in Europe

The need to carry a Green Card means:

  • Having to contact your motor insurer or insurance broker in good time before you travel outside the UK (including to the Republic of Ireland as well as mainland Europe) so that a Green Card can be issued prior to departure. The more notice you give, the better.
  • Providing your insurer or broker with your name, policy number, vehicle registration number, the dates when you’ll be abroad, who will be driving the vehicle and the countries you’ll be visiting.
  • Making sure that as well as specifying the number plate of your vehicle, you provide the trailer registration mark (if you have, for example, an articulated vehicle or a draw-bar trailer) so that the trailer can be issued with its own Green Card - to find out about registering your trailer to take it abroad, click here.
  • Making sure that if you receive your Green Card as an e-mailed PDF rather than in hard copy format, you print it out and bring it with you (despite the name, a Green Card can now be printed on white paper).
  • If your motor insurance policy is due to expire during the Green Card period, you will need to be issued with two Green Cards, one up to renewal date and the other covering the period post-renewal date. Green Cards apply to the registration number of the vehicle rather than the driver. Green Cards are issued for a minimum period of 15 days. If you make frequent and / or lengthy trips abroad, it may be appropriate to talk to your insurer, or your insurance broker, about arranging an annual Green Card for the vehicle(s) in question.

Ensure you have the correct motor or commercial vehicle insurance

As stated above, a Green Card only confirms you have the minimum level of cover legally required in the countries within which your vehicle is travelling. That means as well as requesting a Green Card, you must also instruct your motor insurer to provide you with the same level of cover whilst abroad as you enjoy in the UK.

Why you must have a Green Card when driving in Europe

It is the driver of the vehicle that is responsible for carrying a Green Card, even if the driver is an employee. No employee should drive a vehicle abroad without first having received a Green Card via their employer.

If you drive abroad without physically holding a printed Green Card, you may be prosecuted for driving without insurance, fined and have your vehicle impounded.

Do I need an International Driving Permit after Brexit?

The International Driving Permit (IDP) is a document that validates your licence to be able to drive abroad. Please check local driving restrictions before you travel to see if you need this.

Commercial vehicle insurance from Towergate

We can offer tailored commercial vehicle insurance for your taxi, coach, truck, minibus and more. Our cover will help keep your business on the road.

Call for a quote on 0344 346 1418 or request a quote online.

Motor insurance from Towergate

We can offer a range of motor insurance policies to suit your needs. Read more on our motor insurance webpage.

 All cover is subject to normal underwriting terms and conditions.

About the author

Chris North FCII, commercial vehicles insurance articles author Chris North FCII is a respected industry leader with over 40 years' experience, who has worked in the insurance industry in a variety of roles, accumulating a wealth of knowledge. He is currently Technical Manager for Towergate's motor division, providing expertise on all matters relating to motor fleet insurance, in particular haulage and self-drive hire fleets.


The information contained in this bulletin is based on sources that we believe are reliable and should be understood as general risk management and insurance information only. It is not intended to be taken as advice with respect to any specific or individual situation and cannot be relied upon as such.

If you wish to discuss your specific requirements, please do not hesitate to contact your usual Towergate advisor:

This is a marketing article by Towergate Insurance.

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