Like it or loathe it, the UK is going through the motions of leaving the European Union. Beleaguered UK citizens have already felt the far-reaching consequences of a plethora of EU regulations; from the shape of our vegetables to the rules regarding London’s vehicle pollution Emission Zones, things have changed dramatically over the last few decades.

The implications of leaving the EU will most likely be far-reaching and affect many aspects of our everyday lives in one way or another. If you’re a driver and are looking to travel abroad, then this is certainly one area where you’ll notice some significant changes. The transition for motorists is an ongoing process so you’ll need to keep your finger on the pulse if you’re going to be taking your own vehicle abroad or hiring a car during your summer holiday. But, what are the changes and how will they affect you?

In this post, we’ll give you a brief insight of what to expect.

Will I need another driving licence?

The transition period for UK drivers will most likely come to an abrupt end on the last day of 2020 and as of the 1st January 2021, new rules will apply. This means that (at the time of writing) there aren’t any major changes you need to take into account. It’s thought that once the new rules come into force, drivers may well need to carry an International Driving Permit (IDP) as well as their normal driving licence. Fortunately, if one is required, it won’t eat into your holiday spending money too much as they only cost a few pounds and are available from many main Post Offices. As they’re already a requirement in 140 countries around the world, make sure you check the Post Office website to see if you’ll need to get one prior to travelling.

What is an IDP?

An International Driving Permit is basically a permit that entitles you to drive in those countries that require them. Although you don’t currently need one in the EU, you do already need one if you plan to drive in the USA, Brazil and Japan for example. Bear in mind that from 2021, you may need one to drive in certain countries on the continent so it’s a good idea to have a read-up on what to expect in the country you’re planning to visit. With this in mind, we strongly suggest UK drivers visiting this page of the government’s website which gives more in-depth details on IDPs, the type you’ll need to get and what part of the world they apply to.

Your motor insurance and Green Cards

Things were pretty simple pre-Brexit as insurance companies already had an arrangement with the EU which permitted UK drivers to travel using a European Certificate of Insurance which allows UK citizens to travel under one certificate.  Post-Brexit, it’s thought that this could be replaced with a European Green Card.

If you’ve never heard of a green Card, its main purpose is to confirm that you already have a valid insurance policy in the UK and you may have to pay a fee to get one. There is still much uncertainty over this and how it will pan out as the European governing bodies for insurance have said that a Green Card may not be necessary in future although the European Commission has yet to confirm that this will be the case. Although one isn’t necessary during the transition period, the Association of British Insurers (ABI), suggest contacting your insurance company prior to 2021 as you may need to have a Green Card from next year (2021).

Will I need a GB sticker on my vehicle?

Yes, as a UK driver you’ll need a GB sticker even if you already have a blue EU number plates with the GB initials on. Although you didn’t need one pre-Brexit, you’ll need one on your car afterwards.

Travel health insurance

During the Brexit transition period, a European Health Insurance Card (which provides access to state-provided healthcare) will still be valid. However, this is no substitute for decent travel insurance and we recommend that you make sure you’re covered by this prior to travelling as the EU Insurance Card may not cover all your medical bills or the cost of getting back to the UK in an emergency.

What will happen if I have a driving accident?

This is one area where things could get a bit tricky as it will most likely depend on what country the accident happened in. Prior to the UK joining the EU (then called the EEC) way back in 1973, UK drivers had to claim directly from the other driver/their insurance company. Problems can arise if you find that you either can’t trace them at a later date or they’re not insured in the first place. If this is the case and the accident was their fault, you may find yourself not being able to make a claim against them. It’s therefore crucial that you speak to your insurer well in advance of travelling so that they can advise you on where you stand and what steps can be taken to protect you.

What about Low Emission Zones, will they apply?

Again, this is another grey area as many EU countries have LEZs similar to those that are already in place in the UK. In particular, the rules surrounding diesel cars are particularly stringent and you’ll need to do your own homework as to the location of LEZs in the UK and the country you’re visiting. We recommend starting here to find out more information and to also get a handy app to make your life easier once you leave the UK as some countries also have unique stickers that you’ll need to have.

What about driving with my pets?

If you can leave your pet in the UK you won’t have to worry but for those of you who can’t or don’t want to leave your best friend behind, we strongly recommend getting some advice from your local vet. Most reputable vets are already well-versed in what steps you’ll need to take before travelling and can give you some excellent advice. For example, your pet may well need a series of jabs to prevent the spread of certain diseases such as rabies. You may also need to submit a sample of your pet’s blood for screening and also ensure that he/she is microchipped. Again, there is still uncertainty regarding all of this so we suggest keeping up to date by reading the government’s website page that has a comprehensive guide regarding the things you’ll need to consider.

Disclaimer: We’ve tried to make this post as accurate as possible but we strongly recommend double-checking all the info here yourself by keeping up to date with government websites, speaking to your vet, GP, insurance company etc. Oh, and happy travelling!

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