Brexit: Travelling during the transition period

Attracting more than 58 million trips each year, Europe is the top destination for UK holidaymakers. With people already planning their 2020 holidays, what do travellers need to know about travelling to Europe post-Brexit?

Ever since the 2016 referendum, the road to “Brexit” has been a long one, fraught and paved with uncertainty. Then, it happened: 11pm, Friday 31 January 2020. The UK officially left the European Union and ceased to be a member state. Under the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK has entered a transition period, or the “implementation period”, until 31 December 2020, during in which time we will continue to follow EU rules, even though we are no longer a member. 

There are understandably some concerns over the consequences of Brexit. To provide some clarity, ABTA, the UK’s travel industry trade association has issued some advice about what to expect.

Advice for motorists driving to the EU

If, during the transition period, you are planning to take your vehicle to the EU, you will not be required to obtain a Green Card (proof of motor insurance). In the event of no agreement on our relationship with the EU from the end of the transition period, it may then be necessary to contact your insurer to obtain a Green Card if you plan on travelling to the EU.

For Brits looking to drive their car in Europe or hire cars once they are abroad; as long as you have a full UK driving license then you don’t currently need an additional licence. Equally, the ABTA has confirmed that you will not need an International Driving Permit, a GB sticker, or a Green Card for car insurance.

What is the Green Card and why do I need it?

The Green Card is an internationally accepted document which proves that you have valid insurance to drive your car abroad. The Green Card system currently comprises 47 countries. This includes all European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) countries, Switzerland, Russia, and other members in the Middle East and surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. If determined following Brexit, that the Green Card is required for European travel, it will be illegal for UK motorists to drive in Europe without it. 

For individuals with several trailers and vehicles, you will require more than one Green Card. For example, if you drive a caravan and tow car, these will each need separate Green Cards.

Advice for travellers to the EU

During the transition period, the European Health Insurance Card will continue to be valid. You should make sure that you obtain one as it gives you access to state-provided healthcare available to a resident. It is free from:

However, the EHIC it is not a substitute for travel insurance. It will not cover all medical costs, or the cost of emergency repatriation back to the UK. So ensure that you have valid travel insurance before you leave.