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What car insurance do I need to drive in Europe?

Car insurance is a legal requirement wherever you drive – it’s never optional.

You’ll need to have at least third party insurance to drive in Europe. But, as with driving in the UK, this will cover you only for damage you inflict to others or their vehicles.

If you want to make sure you and your car are fully protected too, consider taking out fully comprehensive insurance.

In some non-EU countries, such as Turkey, you also need to have a green card. This shows you’re insured to drive in Europe.

Make sure to keep it safe with your other travel documents as it proves your car is insured.

What is a green card?

A green card is a motor insurance certificate that’s needed in some European countries.

For the countries that you need a green card to drive in , you’ll need this as well as your car insurance. Make sure to keep it safe with your other travel documents as it proves your car is insured.

Will my UK car insurance cover me in Europe?

You’re usually covered to drive in European Union (EU) countries for up to 30 days with a standard UK car insurance policy.

Countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland and Norway are also usually covered in the same way, despite not being members of the European Union.

However, the level of cover you'll have can vary from insurer to insurer. To check if you're covered to drive in Europe or abroad, you should check your policy details or get in touch with your insurer.

Even if you have comprehensive cover in the UK, you may only have the most basic third party cover when you’re driving in Europe.

So it’s best to check your policy details to see exactly which countries you’re covered for and how much cover you’d have in those countries.

If you’d like a bit more peace of mind while driving abroad, consider upgrading your level of cover to comprehensive.

Bear in mind, though, that your insurer may charge you to add extra cover. But 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 to fix your own vehicle or for personal injury to yourself without it.

Can I get a temporary European car insurance policy?

If your existing car insurance policy doesn’t provide cover for driving in Europe, you can take out a temporary car insurance policy.

This cover can start instantly and can last for up to 28 days. As mentioned previously, depending on where in Europe you're traveling, you may need a green card. Countries where this may apply include:

  • Albania
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Moldova
  • Russia
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine

You can double check the list of countries by visiting the gov.uk website here.

Where can I drive in Europe with a European car insurance policy?

All UK vehicle insurance should provide third-party cover to drive in all countries that operate within the EU and European Economic Area (EEA) including:

  • The EU – including Ireland
  • Andorra
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Norway
  • Serbia
  • Switzerland

Some exclusions may apply to countries that are geographically within Europe but not part of the EU or the EEA. It’s important to check with your insurer which countries you are covered for before you travel.

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Do I need a green card to drive in Europe?

As long as you have UK car insurance in place, you’ll usually be covered for travel throughout most of Europe without a green card.

This is because it is a legal requirement for UK motor insurance companies to offer third party cover in EU countries.

Many policies will also allow you to drive in several non-EU European countries without a green card. These typically include:

  • Andorra
  • Bosnia Herzegovina
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Norway
  • Serbia
  • Switzerland

However, the further afield you go, the more likely you are to need a green card.

If you’re unsure whether you’ll need a green card to drive to, or in, your destination, it’s always worth checking with your insurer before setting off.

The European countries you typically need an insurance green card to drive in include:

  • Albania
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Moldova
  • Russia
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine

How can I get a European car insurance green card?

You can get a green card for driving in Europe from your car insurance company.

You can download one and print it off yourself, or ask for one to sent by post, although be aware that it can take up to six weeks to arrive.

Either way, make sure you have a hard copy that you can keep with your other travel documents.

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Driving in Europe after Brexit

The UK’s Brexit transition period is now complete, and the UK is no longer part of the EU.

If you’re planning on driving in Europe, there are some rule changes you need to be aware of:

  • A ‘GB’ sticker must be displayed on your car – even if your registration plate has a ‘GB’ icon.
  • You might need an international driving permit (IDP) If you have a paper licence or you’re planning to drive somewhere other than an EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland. If you have a licence from Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man, you may need an IDP depending on where you're traveling to. Check the gov.uk website to make sure you've got everything you need before you travel. An IDP costs £5.50 and you can get one at a Post Office.

What else do I need to drive in Europe?

Check whether you need to let your insurer know you're going to be driving in Europe. This information might be included in your policy document. If you're unsure, call and find out.

It’s also important you check you have all the necessary documents with you before driving in Europe. If you are asked to show your documents, you won’t be given the luxury of being able to send them to the authorities at a later date.

Use this checklist before you travel to make sure you have hard copies of everything you need:

  • Vehicle registration certificate (V5C)
  • Valid driving licence or IDP
  • VE103 certificate if you are hiring a car
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Car insurance certificate
  • Passports

Need more help?

Do I need breakdown cover to drive in Europe?

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.

What do I need to know about driving in Europe?

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. While driving in France for example, it's compulsory to carry a warning triangle, reflective jacket and alter headlamps so they don't dazzle oncoming drivers.

You're also required to attach a GB sticker to your car when driving in the EU.

Am I covered to drive between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland?

There normally shouldn’t be an issue in crossing the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland if you are visiting ROI with your car, as long as you have an up to date car insurance certificate. Your standard car insurance policy from the UK will cover you on NI roads.

You won’t need a green card in the Republic of Ireland as it’s part of the EU.

Which European countries drive on the left?

Only 4 countries in Europe drive on the left; The United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Malta, and Cyprus. You can find out more in our guide about this and other countries worldwide if you are planning on driving further afield.

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What our European car insurance expert says

Most car insurance policies will give you some form of European cover. But if you’re travelling outside of the EU, things can get a little trickier. Contact your provider if you’re unsure whether your policy will cover you. Or get a quote now to find one that will.

Alex Kindred signature

Alex Kindred

European car insurance expert

After buying car insurance, 96% of Confused.com customers would recommend us (based on 109241 Reviews.co.uk respondents - as of 21/07/22). Read our reviews