At the moment, UK driving licences may be used to drive anywhere in the EEA (this is the EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway).
If a Brexit deal or withdrawal agreement is passed, UK licences will still be valid for visiting EEA countries during any transition period and there may be agreements for UK licences to be recognised for longer.
A transition period is a set amount of time during which many rules will stay the same, while the UK and EU work out their future relationship.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, then the situation gets more complicated, although many EEA countries will still accept a UK photocard driving licence if you are only driving there for a few months.
Some countries require drivers to have an International Driving Permit (IDP), especially for longer visits.
You may also need to carry your UK driving licence – some countries have stricter rules if you only have a paper licence.
There are two different types of IDP you might need in Europe, known as the 1949 and 1968 IDPs – the numbers refer to the dates of the conventions on road traffic that established them.
- The 1949 permit covers Spain, Iceland, Malta and Cyprus
- The 1968 permit covers driving in all other EU countries that require IDPs, plus Norway and Switzerland
- Only France, Italy and Cyprus require drivers to have an IDP for a short visit.
The majority of countries, such as Germany and Spain, only need you to have an IDP once you have been driving in the country for a set period – three, six or 12 months.
And a few countries such as the Netherlands and Switzerland will not require an IDP at all.
- If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, you will also need to get a Green Card from your insurer to prove your car is covered.
The Green Card is only proof of a minimum level of third-party cover – it will not necessarily match the level of cover that you pay for in the UK. Check with your insurer to find out what level of cover you will get.
- Taking your car to the EEA without a Green Card will be against the law.
The government recommends that you have a GB sticker on your car, even if you also have a GB symbol on your number plate.
You’ll need to carry your V5C log book with you if you own the car. If it is a car you have hired or leased then you will need to get a VE103 form to show you have permission to take it out of the UK.
Perhaps most inconveniently, if you are involved in a road traffic accident in an EEA country after a no-deal Brexit, then you may need to make a claim against the responsible driver or their insurer in the country where the accident happened.
And that could involve bringing the claim in the local language.