Brexit, Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) is currently scheduled for October 31st, 2019. In the event of a “no deal” scenario, there are several implications for UK motorists, both those travelling to the EU for holidays or work, or for those currently resident in an EU country. The following advice has been issued by the Department for Transport and the relevant driving agencies.
The most important point is that extra documentation will be required to drive within the EU. If you are a UK national resident in the EU, then you should exchange your current UK licence for an EU licence for the country in which you reside. Furthermore, you may additionally need to complete a driving test in that country so that you can continue to drive.
Note that the expected surge in demand for new licences can lead to delays, so you are urged to exchange your licence as soon as possible. Also, when returning to the UK, your EU licence will be valid, and you can then exchange it back for a UK licence if you return permanently.
When visiting an EU country, you may also require an international driving permit (IDP) as well as your UK licence in order to drive legally. This will not apply to all countries, for example Ireland is exempt, so it’s important to check before you travel. For UK residents of EU countries, this does not replace the requirement for a local driving licence if you are staying longer term.
Other documentation you should carry when travelling includes your vehicle registration documents (V5C log book or a VE103 for hire cars). You must also of course have a valid insurance policy, and some countries require you to carry a Green Card proving your international cover – this is not currently mandatory but may change if a no deal Brexit occurs. You may additionally require a different Green Card for any caravans or trailers!
In terms of your vehicle, it’s important also to display a GB sticker, even if your current licence plate has the GB moniker on it currently, this applies to all new and used cars and vehicles.
Should you have an accident while driving in the EU, an important fact to know is that the government has indicated in the event of a no deal brexit, UK residents involved in an accident should not expect to claim through your UK claims representative, you will need to claim in the country where the accident occurred – you may even need to raise a claim in the native local language.
If the driver you claim against is uninsured, you may not automatically be covered and may not be compensated. Please note that until Brexit happens, you can still claim for any accident through your provider in the usual way.
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If you intend to use Eurotunnel or the Port of Dover, expect extra checks. In the event of no deal, “Operation Brock” may come into effect, which manages the roads and traffic around these areas – please be aware of road signage and follow instructions provided. You may need to plan this to avoid unnecessary disruption to your journey.
While a no deal Brexit could be chaotic in terms of delays or issues in the event of accidents overseas, you can mitigate for most circumstances with careful planning, especially in terms of having the correct documentation well in advance of travel, or changing your UK licence for a local one if required.
Brexit could prove difficult for the motor trade in many ways, but there’s lots of information to help navigate the uncertainty and it’s important to recognise that your travel within the EU should remain seamless as long as you understand any new requirements and legal obligations.