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If you have a standard 12-month car insurance policy in the UK, you’ll usually be covered to drive in some European countries for up to 30 days. The countries that are covered and the level of cover you have can vary from insurer to insurer. If you have comprehensive cover in the UK, you may only have the most basic third-party cover when you’re driving in Europe.
If you have a car that's expensive to repair or you’d just like a bit more peace of mind while driving abroad, you might want to think about upping your level of cover from the standard third-party level. Your insurer may charge you to add extra cover. But without it, if you're involved in an accident that's your fault or where the fault is unknown, you won't be able to make a claim for any repairs.
To upgrade your existing cover, speak to your current provider.
If you’re looking to take out a new policy that includes extra cover for driving abroad, some insurers offer European car insurance as an optional extra when you take out a policy. When you get a quote using our site, click on the 'More info’ button next to each insurer. Then look for the ‘Driving abroad’ section to see whether EU cover is included, as well as the number of days it’s valid for and whether it includes a green card.
The UK is no longer formally part of the EU, but changes will not be taking effect until the end of 2020. The exact details are still to be confirmed. But once the transition period ends, and the UK is officially not part of the EU, you may need to carry a green card along with your motor certificate of insurance when you’re driving in Europe.
You might need an international driving permit too, but nothing has officially been confirmed yet. If you plan on travelling after the transition period ends on 31 December 2020, check with your chosen provider to make sure you’ll have the cover you need. For more information on travelling after Brexit, visit GOV.UK.
A green card is a motor insurance certificate that’s valid in Europe. It can help making a claim or exchanging details with another driver or the local police easier. Make sure to keep it safe with your other travel documents as it proves your car is insured.
Most insurers include basic third-party cover in Europe for up to 30 days. But if you ask them, your insurer should also give you a green card which will act as your proof of cover while driving abroad. You’ll need to let them know your policy number, when you’re travelling and whether you’ll be towing a caravan or trailer.
You should apply for your green card at least a month before you plan to travel. If you’re planning on travelling after the transition period has ended, you might want to apply sooner. Depending on what’s agreed between the UK government and EU countries, demand for green cards might be high.
Outside of the EU, countries that still need a green card are: Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Israel, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Russia, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine. For more information see our guide on driving abroad.
European breakdown cover isn't a legal requirement, but it could help you if you run into problems with your car when driving abroad. Without cover in place, you could end up with a costly bill for recovery. European breakdown cover is available as an add-on to your car insurance when you get your quote. Or you can get a standalone policy by comparing European breakdown cover quotes.
As well as standard 12-month policies, it's possible to drive in Europe on a temporary policy. Short-term European cover is available for 1 to 84 days. This might be useful if you want to borrow someone else’s car without affecting their insurance.
Most 12-month car insurance policies include cover for driving in Europe for up to 30 days. So you may not need to take out temporary cover. Just remember to check with your insurer before you go.
- Apart from remembering to drive on the opposite side of the road, it's worth reading up on the road rules including speed limits and drink drive limits for your destination.
- Many countries require you to carry certain things in your car or modify it for driving abroad. In France for example it's compulsory to carry a warning triangle, reflective jacket and alter headlamps so they don't dazzle oncoming drivers. The AA have produced a helpful guide displaying the EU driving requirements for many countries.
- If your number plate isn't in the new EU style that shows which member state the car was registered in, you're required to attach a GB sticker to your car.
For more information, here's what you need to know before hitting the road.