UK motorists heading for post Brexit document trap warns BIBA

As the likelihood of the UK leaving the European Union with no deal in place increases Motorists have been warned they face a requirement for key documentation if they want to drive in the EU.

However, the results of a survey carried out by Biba and released today have found the majority of UK motorists are unaware they will need a green card to drive abroad if the UK leaves on 31 October.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal and the European Commission does not make a decision to exempt UK registered vehicles from being checked for proof of insurance, drivers will need to carry a motor insurance Green Card when driving in the EU and EEA.

Of the 2,000 adults in the UK asked in the study by Populus what they believed they legally needed to have to drive their car in Europe after 31 October, more respondents believed it was a legal requirement to have European breakdown cover (49%) than to have a motor insurance Green Card (45%).  One fifth (20%) were not aware the law requires a valid driving licence.

Only around one in three people (35%) said that they have heard of the motor insurance Green Card. Awareness was significantly higher among those aged 65 and over, at 59%, compared to 20% for those aged 18-24. This difference may in part be explained by the fact that the Green Card was in common use until the early 1980s   when insurance companies and insurance brokers provided them to customers whenever they drove to the continent.

Graeme Trudgill, Executive Director at BIBA explained why the research had been commissioned: “If we leave Europe without a Withdrawal Agreement there are certain reciprocities that we will not continue to enjoy. One of these is the benefits of driving in the free-circulation zone without vehicle insurance checks.  If the UK is not allowed in the free circulation zone then UK motorists will have to produce what is known as a Green Card; a hard copy document evidencing valid motor insurance, printed on green paper.  Since the 2016 referendum BIBA has raised with the Government the difficulties of reverting to a Green Card system and the additional bureaucracy that drivers will have to face.  This research confirms what we suspect – those driving to Europe could be caught unawares.”

Those who travel without a Green Card may be breaking the law of the country they are traveling in and could face penalties such as fines and the seizure of their vehicle. They may also not be allowed to drive in the country they are visiting.

Hugh Savill, Director of Regulation at the ABI, said: “Insurers have issued over 400,000 Green Cards to customers and, together with insurance brokers, have been busy alerting motorists to what they need to do if driving their vehicle in the EU, including from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland, in the event of a no deal.  As things currently stand, all drivers planning to take their vehicle to the EU after 31 October should, if they have not already done so, contact their motor insurer to arrange for a Green Card in good time for their trip.”