Driving in the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit – everything you need to know

Driving in the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit – everything you need to know
When it comes to making plans for travelling in Europe in the event of a no-deal EU exit, there is inevitably a degree of uncertainty, but don't let this put you off driving abroad. 

Based on government advice, we recommend that you spend a little extra on an International Driving Permit and an Insurance Green Card. It's better to be safe than sorry.

To help give our members the confidence to plan their trip, we've put together a summary of the government's recommended actions for what you need to know come April.

Guide contents:



European Breakdown Cover

The RAC will continue to provide breakdown cover through our partners operating within the European Union.

With our 5* Defaqto rated comprehensive plus European breakdown cover, there is no limit to the costs to get your vehicle home. If repairs cost more than £500 you can choose to have your car brought home instead of having it repaired in Europe, providing the vehicle is not beyond economical repair.

It is vital that you also have the correct documentation with you – such as an International Driving Permit and Green Card insurance documents if the UK leaves the EU with no-deal.

European Cover from just £6 per day^

​The RAC provide you with up to £1,250 worth of roadside assistance in Europe, starting from just £6^ per day.

International Driving Permits

To drive in EU states in the event of a no-deal Brexit, drivers will be required to purchase an International Driving Permit from the Post Office as a supplement to a UK licence.

All types of IDP are available over the counter at 2,500 Post Office branches. The RAC no longer issues IDPs. It is important to ensure you have the right IDP for the EU country you are travelling in. See our guide below for the different versions available in EU countries:

  • 1949 IDP: If you are travelling to Ireland, Malta, Spain or Cyprus, you would require a 1949 IDP. The 1949 convention IDP is valid for 12 months.
  • 1968 IDP: If you are travelling to all other EU states, you would require a 1968 IDP. The 1968 convention IDP is valid for three years, or for however long your driving licence is valid, if that date is earlier.

An IDP will cost £5.50, however if you are travelling to multiple countries where different IDP versions are required, you would need to purchase both the 1949 and the 1968 versions of IDPs, costing £11. For example, if you are driving to Spain via France.

Read our guide to IDPs in other non-EU states for more information.

Green Card insurance

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) advises that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, motorists driving in an EU state will require ‘a physical copy of what is called a Green Card’.

Though European Insurance authorities waived the need for a green card in the event of a no-deal Brexit, this has not yet been confirmed by the European Commission. This means the insurance industry is advising drivers obtain one.

Green Cards are an international certificate of insurance issued by insurance providers in the UK, guaranteeing that the motorist has the necessary third-party motor insurance cover for travel in the country being travelled to.

Note, they are not cards in the strict sense – they are paper documents which under current international rules, should be printed on green paper.’

Motorists should contact their vehicle insurers to obtain a green card and there may be an administrative cost involved. The ABI recommends that to be sure, drivers ‘should allow sufficient time – about one month before you travel - for your insurer to process your request and if need be, post your Green Card document to you.’

Taking your pets abroad

The Government published advice in November 2018 for those seeking to take their pets away with them on their European trip.

The rules for taking your pet to any EU country will change in the event of the UK leaving the EU with a no deal since the UK will be categorised as ‘an unlisted country’.

Pet owners should be prepared by as much as four months in advance of their trip according to advice. The Government has set out five points of reference and actions for holidaymakers taking their pets to EU countries in the event of a no-deal Brexit. These are listed below:

  1. You must get your dog, cat or ferret microchipped and then vaccinated against rabies before it can travel. Your pet must have a blood sample taken at least 30 days after the rabies vaccination. You’ll need to talk to your vet about whether you need a rabies vaccination or booster before this test.
  2. Your vet must send the blood sample to an EU-approved blood testing laboratory.
  3. The results of the blood test must show that the vaccination was successful (Your pet must have a rabies antibody level of at least 0.5 IU/ml).
  4. You must wait three months from the date the successful blood sample was taken before you travel.
  5. You must take your pet to a Official Veterinarian (OV), no more than 10 days before travel to get a health certificate.

The Government also stresses that if there’s no deal, ‘pet passports issued in the UK would not be valid for travel to the EU.’

UK nationals living in Europe

The Government has indicated that ahead of the 29th March, UK nationals should exchange their UK driving licence for the local EU licence where they live. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, UK nationals may have to pass a driving test in the EU state in which they live.

UK drivers will still be able to drive when visiting the UK with the EU licence, however, if UK nationals return to live in the UK, provided they passed their driving test in the UK (or another specified country), they will be able to exchange an EU licence for a UK licence without taking another test.

Road traffic accidents in Europe

The Government has indicated that from 29 March 2019, in the event of no Brexit deal, UK residents involved in a road traffic accident in an EU or EEA country ‘should not expect to be able to make a claim in respect of that accident via a UK-based Claims Representative or the UK Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB)’.

Instead, UK residents may need to bring a claim against either the driver or the insurer of the vehicle country where the accident happened.

In the event of an accident in an EU or EEA country caused by an uninsured or an untraced driver, UK residents may not receive compensation if there is no EU Exit deal. This scenario could differ depending on the country.


This advice is issued based upon a no-deal Brexit scenario as advised by the UK Government as of late February 2019.

Did you know, you can get fined for moving out of the way of an ambulance?

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^Price for 1 day cover for up to 9 people travelling in a vehicle up to 1 year in zone 1.

*Comparison based on top standalone cover levels from other major providers. Visit www.rac.co.uk/eurocompare for full details.

RAC European Breakdown cover arranged and administered by RAC Financial Services Limited (Registered No 05171817) and provided by RAC Insurance Ltd (Registered No 2355834). Registered in England; Registered Offices: RAC House, Brockhurst Crescent, Walsall WS5 4AW. RAC Financial Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in respect of insurance mediation activities. RAC Insurance Ltd is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.