Motor Insurance

What car insurance do I need to drive in Europe?

NimbleFins explains what car insurance you need to drive in Europe post-Brexit.

If you’re planning a self-drive holiday to somewhere in Europe, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got all your post-Brexit paperwork in order. The good news is that even though the UK has left the European Union (EU), it’s still relatively straightforward to pack up the car and head off on a continental adventure. Here’s what you’ll need to consider with regards to car insurance.

Can I still drive my car in Europe?

Yes, even though we’ve left the EU, you’ll still be able to drive your car to mainland Europe.

What you need will vary depending on where you’re going so while we offer general advice here, we recommend you check official guidance for foreign travel on the government website. You can also confirm details by looking at the government website of the country you’re visiting.

Do I need special car insurance for driving in Europe?

Generally speaking, no. All UK car insurance policies provide you with third party cover if you drive within the EU. Your policy may also cover you in Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia, and Switzerland.

Remember that while your UK car insurance is still valid, it will only provide you with third-party cover—even if you have a comprehensive policy. This means if you’re in an accident, other people will be compensated for damage or injury, but you won’t be. You also may not be covered if your car is stolen.

Can I add extra European car insurance to existing car cover?

If you’ve got a comprehensive UK car insurance policy and want the same peace of mind while driving in Europe, speak to your insurer. In most cases, they will be able to extend your policy so that you have the same or similar levels of protection as you do at home.

You’ll need to bear in mind that many UK policies will limit the length of time you can be insured for driving in Europe. Limits are usually placed on the number of consecutive days (for example, 30 days in a row), or you may be given a set number of days per year.

If your insurer can’t give you the features you want, you could consider temporary European car insurance instead. The benefit of this option is that short-term policies tend to be very flexible and you’ll be able to choose cover that lasts a few days up to a few months.

What documents will I need to drive in Europe?

To drive your car in Europe, you’ll need:

  • Your car’s V5C (logbook).
  • A valid driving licence.
  • Proof of identity (usually your passport).
  • Your car insurance certificate.

Previously, you also needed to carry a Green Card which is essentially proof from your insurer that you’re covered. However, since the summer of 2021, you won’t need a Green Card if you’re driving in the EU, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia, or Switzerland.

If you’re driving anywhere else in Europe, you’ll need to arrange getting a Green Card from your insurer.

How do I get a car insurance Green Card?

You can get a Green Card from your insurer, just let them know a few weeks before you head off. Green Cards are usually free, but some insurers may charge you an admin fee.

Will I need an International Driving Permit to drive in Europe now?

If you have a photocard driving licence and want to drive in the EU (or other countries such as Norway and Switzerland), you won’t need an International Driving Permit (IDP). However, if you have an old-style paper driving licence or your licence was issued in Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man, then you will need an IDP to drive within the EU. You’ll also need an IDP to drive in most other countries outside the EU.

It’s important to know that there are three different types of IDP and the one you need will depend on where you’re planning on driving; they are:

  • 1926
  • 1949
  • 1968

Depending on where you go, there may be time restrictions on using your current UK licence. For example, you won’t need an IDP in Belgium for periods up to six months but if you’re planning on staying for longer, you might need to make alternative arrangements (in this instance, you might have to take out a Belgian driving licence).

You can get hold of an IDP at the Post Office, they currently cost £5.50 but to apply you must:

  • Be aged 18 or over.
  • Live in the UK.
  • Have a full UK driving licence.

Do I need any special equipment to drive in Europe?

In some countries, it’s obligatory to carry certain equipment in your car. For instance, in France, by law, you must have a reflective jacket, warning triangle and a breathalyser in your car (amongst other items). To get the most up to date advice, always check the government website of the country you’re visiting.

Another vital item you’ll need when driving in Europe, is a UK sticker which should be placed on the back of your car. This has been compulsory since the autumn of 2021 and is not the same as a GB sticker.

There are some exemptions—for example, if your number place already has ‘UK’ on it in addition to a Union flag picture. However, in some countries, you must still have a UK sticker no matter if the country designation is shown on the number plate. This includes popular destinations like Spain and Malta.

Search for car insurance you can rely on

Whether you’re driving at home or abroad, it’s crucial to have car insurance you can rely on. To help you find the right deal for you and your budget, we’ve teamed up with Quotezone to bring you quotes from up to 60 insurance providers. To start your search, simply tell us what you’re looking for right here.

Erin Yurday

Erin Yurday is the CEO, Co-founder and Editor of NimbleFins. Prior to NimbleFins, she worked as an investment professional and as the finance expert in Stanford University's Graduate School of Business case writing team. Read more on LinkedIn.

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