Driving after Brexit: How am I going to be affected?

red line separating UK from EU

It’s been the saga of the decade, hasn’t it? Brexit, the never-ending political juggernaut which has dominated the United Kingdom for the last three years, has been extended once again. We’re now due to leave the EU on the 31st January 2020, but many of us are still asking ourselves, what does Brexit mean for me? How easy is driving after Brexit going to be? What changes are coming? If you’re asking yourself these questions then this guide is for you.

Before you even think about your European road trip, consider the condition of your car. How likely is it to make it back in one piece? If you’re not confident driving on your daily commute, how can you safely tackle whatever Europe’s roads have to throw at you? Not to worry though, whatever your problem, BookMyGarage has got you covered.

General changes to driving after Brexit

Right, let’s get cracking with a bit of general housekeeping. The most important thing to note is that driving in the Republic of Ireland isn’t set to change after Brexit, no matter whether we leave with or without a deal. However, this is pretty much the only thing that is set to stay the same.

The first of these changes concerns your passport. For travel after the 1st of February, you’re going to need to pay more attention to its expiry date. You can’t leave it as late as possible to renew anymore – it must still be valid for at least six months and be less than ten years old when you want to use it. You might be refused entry if it doesn’t meet both criteria.

Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) may not be valid after Brexit, especially in a ‘No-Deal’ situation. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you’ll need to make sure you have travel insurance which offers the right level of cover for everything you plan on doing. Most importantly of all, it must be valid for the country or countries you plan on driving through.

Finally, the issue surrounding visas. Now, if you plan on driving in any of the EU or EEA (European Economic Area) countries, you might need one – but only if you’re planning on staying for longer than 90 days in any 180-day period. So, if you’re planning on working for an EU lorry firm based in Italy for a year, you’ll need to get the correct visa or permit. However, if you’re only doing a driving holiday to France and the Alps for two weeks, you won’t. At the time of writing, these rules were unconfirmed, so please make sure your circumstances haven’t changed.

Driving after Brexit in a ‘no-deal’ scenario

Travel documents for driving after Brexit

If the UK leaves the EU on the 31st January 2020 without a deal, you’ll have to contend with different regulations. The biggest impact of a ‘No-Deal’ scenario involves the need for an ‘International Driver’s Permit’ (IDP). You’ll have to carry this alongside your UK driving licence to prove you’re able to drive in the country you’re visiting.

How do I get an IDP?

The best place to get your IDP is at your local Post Office, but please check which IDP is relevant for your journey first. Some driving routes may require you to buy both IDP’s, (a total cost of £11, £5.50 each), such as if you’re driving through France (1968 IDP) to Andorra (1949 IDP). However, for some short visits, you might not need an IDP at all if you have a photocard UK driving licence. Make sure you know which one you need before you travel as the requirements vary from country to country.

Changes to insurance

After Brexit, you’ll need to carry a motor insurance green card to prove your insurance is valid. This only applies to UK residents taking their own car abroad. To hire a vehicle in a European country, you just need an IDP. Please note, it may take up to a month to arrive, so plan ahead.

There are a few situations where you will need multiple green cards to prove the validity of your insurance. These include driving as part of a fleet, driving with a trailer or caravan or driving on the day your policy renews. In this situation, you’ll need a green card for the old policy and the new one. If you’ve hired or leased your vehicle in the UK, you should always take either your vehicle log book, (if you have one), or a VE103 as proof that you’re legal to drive.

In the unfortunate event of an accident, you might need to make your claim against the driver or insurer in the country where you had your accident. Sometimes, you might also need to make the claim in the local language. Not only that, it could also be difficult for you to get compensation if the driver is uninsured or untraceable. As this process will vary from country to country, driving safely is your best policy.

Stickers & Licence Plates

You’ll need to display a GB sticker on the rear of your vehicle and/or trailer. This applies even if your licence plate already shows the GB identifier or the EU symbol and the GB identifier.

Changes for business people

After Brexit, a whole new range of activities will count as business travel in EU and EEA countries. These include attending meetings or conferences, providing a service, including for charity, or touring with music and art. Please make sure that you’ve checked the procedure for the country you plan on visiting, as they will all be different. We also recommend checking that your qualifications are valid in your destination country, (i.e. if you’re providing legal services). You’ll also need all the other documents associated with driving after Brexit.

If you run a haulage firm or bus company, there may be new regulations you have to comply with. Likewise, if you’re in the import or export business, you’ll need to follow all relevant rules which will come into force after Brexit.

Driving after Brexit as a lorry or coach driver

Row of lorries ready to drive

As with all drivers, you’ll need an IDP and Green Card insurance to drive in the EU but you’ll also need to carry a valid Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) as well. However, those driving for EU based companies will face a different situation to those driving for UK ones.

Driving for a UK company

If you’re employed by a UK based company which exports to the EU, your UK Driver CPC will cover you just fine. However, there will be new restrictions on the journeys your company will be authorised to make after Brexit. The good news is, you’ll still be able to make all of them without having to worry about any changes.

Driving for an EU company

If you’re employed by an EU based company, or you think you might want to work for one in the future, you’ll need to exchange your UK Driver CPC for an EU equivalent. If you’re an EU national driving for a UK company, you’ll need to do the same thing. However, this does vary depending on which country you’ll be based in so please check below. Also, it’s best to exchange your UK driving licence for a driving licence issued in the country where you work.

Some countries require a valid EU CPC qualification. This might mean you have to undergo a CPC test in the country where you work. These countries are Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg (for non-residents), Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden. If you’re a coach driver, the list stays the same.

Other countries will add the number ’95’ to your valid driving licence. These countries are Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg (for residents), Malta, Netherlands, Poland and Slovenia. Again, the list stays the same for coach drivers.

Finland and Norway operate both procedures, so check which would be best for you before you apply.

Driving for a bus company in a ‘No-Deal’ scenario

The most important change involves what’s called the Interbus Agreement. This would allow occasional coach journeys to EU and EEA countries for UK bus and coach companies. So, you’ll still be able to drive in EU countries, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Moldova, Turkey and Ukraine. If this agreement came into force, you wouldn’t need to exchange your UK CPC to carry on driving after Brexit.

Taking your pets away with you

Sometimes, you’ll want to take the entire family away on holiday with you. However, if you’re looking to take your pet or pets to a European country, you’ll need to complete a significant amount of paperwork first. As it currently stands, you’ll need around four months to complete the entire process, but always check with your vet in case anything has changed.

Driving after Brexit with pets in the boot of your car

The UK becomes an unlisted country

It’s important to know that a current EU pet passport issued in the UK will NOT be valid for travel to the EU whatever the outcome of Brexit.

The most changes will happen if the UK becomes an ‘unlisted country’ after Brexit. Your pet must be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies before travelling and it must have a blood test at least 30 days after its last rabies vaccination. Once the test comes back with a positive result, you must wait three months before you can travel. Oh, and you’re going to need an animal health certificate (AHC) as well, issued by your vet no more than ten days before you travel. Make sure going through this process with your pet will be worth it, as there are plenty of things still to consider, such as tapeworm tests and bringing your pet back into the country.

Transporting plants to EU countries after Brexit

If you transport plants under the CITES agreement (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), new regulations will come into force. Make sure you’re up to date before you travel.

EU nationals in the UK

An EU issued driving licence will remain valid after Brexit, no matter the situation. This means you don’t have to worry about retaking your driving test to get a UK licence. It also means you can still drive in EU countries without any issues.

UK nationals in the EU

Driving in these countries won’t be much different to how it currently is, however, you will need to exchange your UK driving licence for one issued in the country where you live. Please make sure this is done before the 31st January 2020 because, after that, your UK licence may no longer be accepted. If you don’t exchange your UK licence, you might need to take a driving test in the country you live in to carry on driving there. Beat the rush and switch your licence over now.

A driving holiday after Brexit could also bring about complications, especially if you still have a UK-issued pet passport and want to take your pet or pets away with you. Speak to your vet before you travel to make sure you’re compliant with all the new regulations.

driving holiday, group of friends sat on car

An EU-issued pet passport allows for travel to the UK and return to an EU country. You’ll want to get a successful blood test taken from your pet to rule out rabies before you leave though – if the blood sample is taken in the UK, you’ll have to wait three months before you can travel back into the EU!

Don’t let any of the extra checks put you off driving in Europe after Brexit – if you plan ahead, you’ll be able to get hold of all the documents you need in plenty of time. Although, if you’re looking for an alternative driving holiday somewhere a little closer to home, why not check out these wonderful locations right here in the UK?

Have we missed anything important off of the list? Let us know in the comments below!

Drew Hickman

Drew Hickman

Drew works for BookMyGarage writing blogs, website content and almost everything else in between. He works closely with ex-mechanics and subject matter experts. When he’s not helping you save money on running your car or making your driving life easier, he can be found either with his head in a book or with a golf club in his hands (usually looking for his ball in the woods)

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