If you plan on taking your car to Europe, don’t forget to brush up on local laws, especially if you’re considering travelling with pets.
As well as ensuring your vehicle’s properly insured, it’s also worth considering adding features such as motor legal expenses insurance, which can help cover costs if you need to go to court. To help you plan a stress-free trip, we summarise what you need to drive in the EU after Brexit.
- Is my UK driving licence valid after Brexit?
- Do I need a green card to drive from the UK to Europe?
- What vehicle documents will I need to travel in Europe from the UK?
- Do I need a GB or UK car sticker to drive in Europe?
- What equipment do I need to carry while driving in Europe?
- Can we take pets when travelling to the EU?
- Can we take food and plants into the EU?
- Tailor your car insurance package for stress-free travel
If your UK photocard driving licence is still valid in the UK, it will also be valid in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
Do I need an International Driving Permit?
This will depend on the type of licence you have, where it was issued, and where you’re going.
Generally, if you have a valid photocard licence, you won’t need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. But you may need one if you have an old-style paper licence or if your licence was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey, or the Isle of Man.
You can also check whether or not you need an IDP at the embassy website of the country you’re visiting. You can visit the government’s foreign travel advice page for general travel advice.
Your UK car insurance now provides you with third party only cover when you drive in an EU country. Because of this, you no longer need to carry a green card (a document proving you have car insurance).
Do I need to tell my car insurance company that I will be driving abroad?
If you’re planning on driving your vehicle abroad, it’s worth telling your insurer just so you’re sure you’re adequately covered. It’s also a good opportunity to add extra features such as EU breakdown cover.
Bear in mind that some insurers will expect you to let them know, in which case, it may be specified in your policy documents.
If you’re taking your car to the EU, you’ll need to take your original vehicle registration document (V5C logbook). You’ll also need to take your driving licence, and it’s a good idea to take a copy of your car insurance policy.
If you’ve hired a car in the UK, you’ll need to carry a VE103 form which shows you have the right to drive that vehicle abroad. The rental firm should provide you with this.
If you’re taking your car abroad, you now need a UK sticker, not a GB sticker (these have not been used since September 2021). You can buy stickers at most car accessories shops.
You won’t need a sticker if your car’s number plate already has the UK identifier alongside the Union flag (Union Jack). The only exceptions are Spain, Cyprus, and Malta, where you will still need to display a UK sticker regardless.
What happens if my number plate has a different flag or GB identifier?
If your number plate has any of the below flags or symbols, you will need to buy and display a UK sticker on your car:
- A GB identifier
- Euro flag or symbol
- The national flags of England, Scotland, or Wales
What you need to keep in your car will depend on the country you’re visiting. A number of EU countries make it compulsory to carry certain items, such as a hi-vis jacket, a warning triangle, or a first-aid kit.
Depending on the time of year, you may even need to switch to winter tyres or carry snow chains.
If you’re travelling in your motorhome, consider any specific motorhome regulations in Europe and check any laws about what you might need to have with you.
What two safety items must be carried in your car in Europe by law?
Rules vary depending on where you’re going, so you may need more than two essential items. For example, if you’re driving to Spain, you must have a spare tyre (and tools to fit it) or puncture repair kit, two warning triangles, and reflective vests.
You can see what you need by country using the EU’s Going Abroad app. You should check the country’s official tourist information if you’re travelling to Europe but not to an EU country.
Different countries will have their own rules, so don’t forget to check these before you set off. If you are allowed to take your pets, at the very least, your pet will need:
- To be microchipped
- A valid rabies vaccination
- An animal health certificate (or pet passport if it’s valid for your destination).
Your pet will also need tapeworm treatment if you’re travelling to Ireland, Northern Ireland, Finland, Norway, or Malta. It’s important to know that these rules also apply to assistance dogs.
Are pet passports still valid?
Pet passports issued in England, Scotland or Wales are no longer valid unless the country you’re visiting accepts them (you should check on the country’s embassy website). Instead, you’ll need an up-to-date animal health certificate.
UK travellers are not allowed to bring any meat or dairy products into the EU.
If you’re travelling with a baby, you can bring in powdered formula (no more than 2kg). You can also take a limited supply of pet food but only for the pet you’re taking with you.
Plants must have a plant health certificate (officially called a phytosanitary certificate). This will need to confirm that the plant is free from certain pests.
You can visit the EU’s official Your Europe website for the latest information.
Do I need an EHIC to travel to Spain after Brexit?
No, you don’t need and EHIC to travel to Spain. EHIC stands for European Health Insurance Card. If your EHIC is still valid, you can use this in Spain and other EU countries, and Switzerland. If it’s expired, you can apply for a GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card).
These cards entitle you to the same healthcare as locals in their respective countries (so if you’re in Spain, a valid EHIC or GHIC will give you the same treatment as a Spanish citizen).
You can apply for a GHIC on the NHS website. The cards are free, so be wary of any sites that ask for payment.
Do I still need travel insurance if I have an EHIC or GHIC?
The short answer is yes. Not all countries have free healthcare services, and you may need to pay for treatment, so it is wise to remember to arrange travel insurance.
As well as medical expenses, travel insurance covers a range of events, including cancellation and lost luggage. Policies should also provide cover for any particularly ‘risky’ activities. For example, if you’re planning to jet-ski, scuba dive, or go white-water rafting, you should consider holiday insurance with watersports cover included.
Holidays should be hassle-free, so if you’re planning on driving abroad, it’s worth checking what your current car insurance covers. Depending on what your current policy provides, you might want to add on extras for greater peace of mind.
At Alan Boswell Group, we can help with a wide range of services, including call assist breakdown cover. Plus, if you decide to stay at home this summer and explore the UK, we can also provide staycation travel insurance. To find out more about how we can help, you can speak to a team member directly on 01603 649650.