This article was updated on 18th January 2021
Now the Brexit transition period has ended and the UK has left the European Union, there are a number of changes you need to be aware of if you’re planning to travel in Europe.
Driving in the EU
You can still drive in Europe. However, drivers in the European Economic Area, plus Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland, will need physical proof of motor insurance when they travel. This proof is commonly referred to as a Green Card.
A Green Card is needed if you plan to drive a vehicle which is registered in the UK, whether it’s your own car, a company vehicle or a rental car. This was the arrangement before the UK joined the EU, so it will be familiar to some drivers. A Green Card guarantees that you have the necessary minimum motor insurance cover for driving in the country being travelled to. If you arrive at the border without a physical Green Card, you will not be allowed to drive in that country. Your Green card is issued by your insurer but can be arranged by your insurance broker. If you’re a client of Alan Boswell Group and you need a Green Card, please get in touch to arrange this.
Whilst the Green Card itself is free, it is likely there will be a small admin fee to cover the additional work of issuing one. Some insurers are advising that you need to give them a month’s notice so please let us know as far in advance of your trip as possible so there is no delay in sending your card.
Did you know – the origins of the term ‘Green Card’ date back to 1946 and whilst they did used to be printed on Green paper, this is no longer a requirement.
Driving in Ireland
As highlighted by Huw Evans, Director General of the Association of British Insurers, if you live in the UK (which includes Northern Ireland) and plan to drive to the Republic of Ireland after Brexit, you will need a Green Card.
Renting a car registered in Europe
If you are travelling into Europe by other forms of transport such as plane, train or ferry, and rent a vehicle upon arrival you do not need a Green Card. You will, of course, still need to insure the vehicle in the same way that you do now.
European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC)
If you’re a UK resident and have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), you can continue to use it until it expires.
If you don’t have an EHIC or it has expired, you can apply for a new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) on the NHS website. You can use a GHIC to access healthcare in EU countries at a reduced rate or for free. However, it’s important to note that whether you have an EHIC or a GHIC, it will not provide medical cover in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland or Norway.
There are situations where an EHIC or GHIC won’t provide you with cover. This means, as always, arranging your own travel insurance is essential.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, it is particularly important to ensure you have adequate cover for this in your insurance policy. The UK Government has provided guidance on how to buy travel insurance with the right cover, and our team is always on hand to help with any questions or concerns you may have.
Is your passport valid?
Another big change, and something you must check before you travel, is that your passport has at least six months left before your date of arrival. Your passport must also be less than 10 years old (even if it has more than six months left on it). This rule applies to both adult and child passports.
Changes to pet passports
If you have a UK pet passport, it will no longer be valid. Instead, you must obtain an animal health certificate (AHC) for your pet if you wish to take it abroad.
An AHC can be obtained from your vet and confirms your pet is microchipped and has been vaccinated against rabies. You will need to arrange a new certificate each time you travel with your pet. Allow at least one month to arrange this and any relevant vaccinations. You can find full information on what’s required for travelling with pets on the UK Government website.
These changes also apply to guide dogs.
We’re here to help
It’s possible the new arrangements could cause a temporary increase in checks and delays. Always give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport and through security.
While the information in this article is regularly updated, always check the UK Government website for the latest guidance about travelling in Europe.
Alan Boswell Group are one of the UK’s largest independent insurance brokers, and we’re able to guide you through a wide range of individual and commercial policies. If you would like help arranging travel insurance or EU car insurance, or have any questions or concerns about the points raised in this article, please get in touch.