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Driving in Europe after Brexit

Driving in Europe after Brexit: A practical guide on what you need to do if you are planning a European trip after March 29th, 2019.

If you are travelling to an EU country, the Common Travel Area or any of the countries that have travel agreements with the EU under the Schengen Agreement, you should consider now how the following areas might impact on your travel plans.

You will need an International Driving Permit

Your UK driving licence may no longer be valid for use on EU roads. The UK Government has already advised motorists that they may need one of two types of International Driving Permit (IDP), which would need to be carried along with your UK Driving Licence when you are driving in the EU.

In Cyprus, Ireland, Malta and Spain the ‘1949 Convention IDP’ will last for 12 months. In all other EU countries, plus Norway and Switzerland, a ‘1968 Convention IDP’ will be required, which lasts for three years.

International Driving Permits cost £5.50; however they are currently only sold at fewer than 100 Post Offices. From February they should be available at 2,500 Post Offices, although demand is expected to soar from 100,000 a year to 7,000,000.

We cannot realistically see Northern Ireland drivers and riders being required to get a new IDP every 12 months to enter Ireland, but it is possible that all other countries may enforce the IDP requirement in a ‘punishment scenario.’

Reduce your motorcycle insurance premium

You will need an Insurance ‘Green Card’ again

Many insurers automatically provide up to 30 days European cover in their policies and it will be confirmed in your policy document. The point of the Green Card is that it effectively confirms this, in a number of different languages, set out in an internationally-recognised format.

Most insurers will provide you with a Green Card free of charge, but the Government has already warned that with over 4 million trips to the EU each year a heavy burden will be placed on insurer’s administration and they could introduce charges to cover this.

If you don’t have a Green Card, the risk is that you may be required to pay for more expensive ‘frontier insurance’ before you can enter an EU country. How likely this is remains to be seen.

EHIC health cover will cease

The old E111, now known as EHIC (European Health Insurance Cover) cards will no longer be valid after 29th March 2019. The House of Lords has already warned, “in the absence of an agreement on future relations that covers this topic, the rights currently enjoyed by 27 million UK citizens, thanks to the EHIC, will cease after Brexit”.

EHIC entitles you to state-provided medical treatment should you need it in the 27 EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. It is not an alternative to travel insurance and indeed many insurer’s policies require you to have an EHIC card.

It is not currently clear what will happen with these policies under no-deal, but it is hard to imagine that insurers could deny a claim on the basis of not having a card that was no longer valid.

Minimum six months left on your passport

The EU-style (red) version of your passport will continue to be valid. However, under a no-deal scenario, if you plan to enter any Schengen Area countries, you will need to have a minimum of six months left on your passport before it expires. This applies to all travellers, including children.

The Government says, “If your passport does not meet these criteria, you may be denied entry to any of the Schengen area countries, and you should renew your passport before you travel”. Under current EU rules, you can enter a Schengen country even if you only have one day left until your passport expires.

Brexit affect driving in Europe
© Flickr/Adam Foster. Will extra bureaucracy lead to fewer trips to Europe?

The Government has also warned that demand for renewals will be significant and has advised that anyone with less than six months (i.e. issued between 1st October 2009 and 1st April 2010), should renew their passport ’soon’.

The countries currently included within the Schengen Agreement are: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Anyone travelling within the Common Travel Area of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands will not be affected.

No requirement for a visa

The European Commission has already said there will be no requirement for UK nationals to have a visa for short-stay (under 90 days) visits to EU countries, although we will be subject to the new visa-waiver programme, ETIAS (see below).

The visa-free policy covers the 22 EU member countries that are members of the Schengen area and the four Schengen-associated states – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. It will also apply to countries which are outside Schengen but coordinate their policies with it: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania.

New ETIAS permission is likely to be €6 per person

Although UK citizens will not be required to have a visa to travel within the EU, under the no-deal scenario, after January 2021 we will need to apply for Electronic Travel Authorisation.

ETIAS, the EU Travel Information and Authorisation System is a new security measure – similar to the Etsa system in the US – which will require anyone from outside the EU bloc to apply for permission to travel inside the EU area in advance and receive a visa waiver in return. It is likely to cost €6 for each permit and will be valid for three-year periods, with an unlimited number of entries into the region.

Speeding fines may still come in the post

UK motorcyclists will still be subject to laws and local fines – for speeding, parking, driving whilst intoxicated etc.

What is not currently clear is if the DVLA will continue to supply details to EU countries who want to issue any fines ‘after the fact’, such as fines from fixed speed cameras. UK Ministers have already pledged to maintain a free flow of data from the UK to organisations in the remaining 27 EU states, in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Data roaming and call charges shouldn’t increase

Even under no-deal, the UK Government has promised to enforce a cap of £45 per month on roaming charges. More encouragingly, the major operators, EE, O2 and Vodafone have pledged not to change their approach to data roaming after the UK leaves the EU.

However, in Northern Ireland there is a danger that stronger signals from the Republic of Ireland inadvertently trigger data roaming on UK contracts not issued by the big three. Check who you are with.

Build in extra time for security checks

Anyone taking a motorcycle over to the Continent via Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, for example, currently faces minimal security checks, with only a few travellers selected for inspections. This may increase once hard borders are installed so you should build in a little extra time for any delays that might be caused by more vehicles undergoing checks. If more of the documentation listed above needs to be checked, this will add on time to checking-in, too.

The government has already warned international travellers to make sure they have “insurance and ticket terms and conditions” that are “sufficient to cover possible disruption”. Some people have taken this to mean that ‘flexi’ tickets might be a wiser choice as you can transfer to another crossing more easily. However, these tickets are considerably more expensive than standard tickets, with the cheaper tickets still guaranteeing you cross the Channel.

Get yourself sorted:

Keep checking back with this article, as things will change the closer we get to 29th March 2019, the day the UK is due to leave the European Union.


This information is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of writing but, due to the continually updating situation, you should always check with the relevant Government department before you make any travel arrangements. Biker & Bike does not accept any liability for any action taken as a result of this article. Please refer to the Terms of Use of this website for more details.

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