If you intend to drive in Europe after a no-deal Brexit you may need to complete some additional paperwork before your European driving tour. The information below will help you understand the requirements to legally drive your motorhome in Europe post-Brexit. These documents may be required before you drive to your chosen campsite, or if you have a motorhome, to French Aires or German Stellplatze. Information about passports and traveller requirements are in our related post 4 Must-do Checks before Entering the EU after Brexit. For our most up to date blog about Brexit, read Brexit Forecast For Winter Sun-Seekers published November 2019.

Do I need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in the EU?

UK Driving Licence, ©DVLANon-EU citizens may need an International Driving Permit to drive a vehicle in the European Union, including a hire car. Therefore, if you are a UK citizen with a British driving licence, you may need to obtain an IDP after Brexit, before you set off on your European road trip. This is because the British driving licence may no longer be a recognised, valid document within the EU post-Brexit. The British government aims to petition the EU to avoid this, but IDPs may be required until a deal is agreed. There are three types of IDP: International Driving Permit 1949 is required in Iceland, Malta, Spain and Cyprus and is valid for 1 year. The International Driving Permit 1926, required in Liechtenstein, is also valid for 1 year. The remaining EU/EEA countries accept the International Driving Permit 1968, which is valid for 3 years. You will not need an IDP if you intend to visit Ireland.

An IDP is a piece of cardboard with your photograph attached that acts as your driving licence. If you have an IDP you should still carry your British driving licence with you. The IDP is easy to obtain from the Post Office in person, simply bring your existing photo licence and a passport-sized photo with you. All three IDPs currently cost £5.50, so the IDP 1968 is the best value as it is valid the longest and is accepted in the most countries. It is not possible to purchase an IDP online. More information is available at www.postoffice.co.uk/international-driving-permit.

If you are a UK citizen living within the European Union, the UK government advises that you change your driving licence for an EU licence before Brexit. You will be allowed to drive in the UK with an EU driving licence without the need for an IDP for 3 years. Information of how to exchange your licence can be found at https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/vehicles/driving-licence/driving-licence-renewal-exchange/index_en.htm#shortcut-0-exchanging-your-licence.

Until Brexit happens, keep up-to-date with changes at www.gov.uk/guidance/prepare-to-drive-in-the-eu-after-brexit.

Do I have to change my EU number plates after Brexit?

GB Sticker Plaque for Car, Motorhome CaravanCurrently you can keep your EU number plates on your motorhome or car as long as you display a separate GB sticker. It is likely that the EU demands that UK vehicles stop display EU number plates. 

What is and do I need a green card to drive within the EU?

Before you set off in a tour of Europe you may need a green card. A green card proves that you have the minimum insurance required by law to drive a vehicle in a foreign country. There are 47 countries worldwide that form the green card system; these are identified on an interactive map provided by the Council of Bureaux. 

Currently all UK vehicle insurance provides a minimum of third-party cover to drive in the EU; this is effectively your green card. From April 12 this will change, but how is currently unknown. In May 2018 the UK and EU insurance bodies agreed to waive the requirement of physical green cards, but this has not been ratified by the EU so currently doesn’t apply. The Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB), www.mib.org.uk, are the UK issuer of green cards. They have issued guidance to UK insurance companies regarding how to issue physical green cards. Should green cards be required, they will be issued by your motorhome insurance company. Green cards will be free, but admin costs may be added by insurance companies. Your trailer, if domestic, or caravan, if it weighs over 3,500kg, may also need a green card and might need to be registered separately. See www.gov.uk/guidance/trailer-registration.

Will my vehicle insurance still be valid after Brexit?

Your vehicle insurance will still be valid, but you will need to contact your insurer in advance to notify them of your intended travel to obtain a green card, see above. The green card will provide the minimum insurance cover required, usually third-party liability, which covers costs to other parties. If you intend to enjoy an extended motorhome tour, you will need to notify your insurer of every country you intend to visit. Whether you can obtain more insurance to cover damage to your campervan, theft, and/or legal assistance will depend on the insurance company and EU/UK negotiations.

British insurers may not cover you for EU accidents after BrexitIf you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident within the EU after Brexit, your UK-based insurer may not be able to help. According to gov.uk: ‘UK residents involved in a road accident may need to bring a claim against either the driver or the insurer of the vehicle in the EU or EEA country where the accident happened. This may involve bringing the claim in the local language. 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’. After Brexit contact your vehicle insurer before you travel to ensure you understand any procedures you should follow if you are involved in an incident within the EU. See www.gov.uk/guidance/prepare-to-drive-in-the-eu-after-brexit.

Will Low Emission Zones apply to British vehicles?

Low Emission Zones (LEZ) are increasing across EuropeLow Emission Zones (LEZs) are increasing across Europe. Some require a sticker to be displayed in your vehicle. Remember to ensure you know where Low Emission Zones are and which LEZs you are able to travel in. On the spot fines will be issued if you get it wrong! Read all about LEZ here.

And finally, don’t panic!

In 2003 I spent a year touring full-time in a Hymer motorhome. The EU was smaller then, so I needed green cards, additional insurance and IDPs to drive in Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. Completing the paperwork wasn’t difficult or expensive. Just consider it part of the adventure. Once you’re on your way, you’ll have a lovely time staying in the campsites or Aires.

About the author

Meli is a successful motorhomer and travel writer. As the author of numerous travel guides, including Go Motorhoming, Road Trip Europe: Go Dutch and All the Aires Spain and Portugal, she has toured Europe extensively over the last 19 years in various campervans and motorhomes. In 2018 she travelled 16,000 miles in France in a Wildax camper.

Vicarious Media is a proven travel guide publisher and retailer. Vicarious Media writes or finds and evaluates the best travel guides for campers, motorhomers, caravanners and road trippers. Established since 2006 Vicarious Media enhances thousands of road trips every year, and hopes to transform your holiday too.

8 THOUGHTS ON “How to Drive Legally in Europe after Brexit”

by Meli

In response to Diana,

According to the IDP website, internationaldrivingpermit.org, the IDP is ‘a document containing official translation of your national driving licence’.

The UK government has been working to ascertain which countries will require UK drivers to have an IDP after Brexit. This is what the latest information on www.gov.uk states:

If there is no deal you will not need an IDP to visit Spain for 9 months. So, if Brexit happens on 31 Oct 2019, and IDP would not be required until July 2020. After this point an IDP will only be required for stays longer than 6 months.

In Portugal if there is no deal, you will not need an IDP for stays shorter than 185 days.

For France, if there is no deal, you will need a 1968 IDP, which is valid for 3 years.

Hope this helps, Meli

by Diana Chawner

Will a IDP 1949 cover you if you drive a motorhome over 3.5 tons in Spain? There is no indication on the form that it does.

by BrunetteBabePax

Thanks, I ave recently been looking for info about this subject for a while and yours is the greatest I ave found out so far.

by Chris Roche

Returning from an extensive trip recently we found that the French will not carry the alleged required two breathalyzers, we were told the rule had been abolished. We found so many speed cameras either burnt, painted out black or yellow spray paint over their lenses, Black bags over them all bound up in tape. when we stopped to look we saw stickers saying that it was illegal to deface a camera. My French friend said that 70% of all cameras had been put out of action. part of the fuel and social protest now going on, we put a yellow vest in our window when passing through France to Spain it got us waves and we hooted in support where protesters were seen it all helped us.

In Portugal you cannot be done for illegal camping as long as you have a fishing licence which is compulsory if you are going fishing the Aires books do not make this clear. A licence is required for both salt and fresh water and then all you have to do is park van cast a rod and put out a chair next to it and regardless of vehicle you are fishing not camping.

Chris R

by Nigel Lewis

In reply to Brian Snook, sorry to hear you think it’s time to sell the motorhome. I’m sure you don’t really want to.
When you say you hope their travellers get the same treatment when they come here, do you mean that future UK governments should make it difficult for EU visitors? Please remember, we currently HAVE an agreement for easy travel within the EU, but it’s us, the UK that wants to stop that agreement, not the EU (they have said they want us to stay!). It’s the UK that can’t decide on what it wants in future agreements. The EU are not being difficult! Please don’t blame future European travellers who may want to come here. I’d like us to welcome them with open arms.

by Hugh Newbery

Clear and informative as ever.

by Keith Jones

Great info, easy to read and understand, pity nothing on travelling with pets.
Many thanks Meli.

Kind regards

Keith, Debs and Fleur… Our labradoodle

by Brian John Snook.

Hello… well after reading all this I think it time to sale the motorhome and be a cabbage at home we have been touring for the last 15 years So i think by sound of things it must go but we have enjoyed it all the time , so I hope that when there travelers get same as we get when they come over here , I would to say a big thank you for all your books we have had of you they’re very good . Thanks again…. regards BJSnook…