Friday 18 January 2019

Finance Fridays – Driving in Europe after Brexit

We were saving money on energy costs for last week's Finance Fridays. This week I am afraid I am mentioning Brexit. As the current position seems to be heading for a no-deal Brexit there are some things people need to be aware of. This isn't a case of instilling fear in people but just being prepared. One of these things is what will happen if you need to drive your car in the EU.

On Friday 29th March the UK leaves the European Union. At least at the moment I am typing this is currently the case. While the UK is still in the EU you don't need to prove you have adequate insurance when you drive in another EU country as the legal requirement is have car insurance.

Currently UK vehicle insurance comes with the minimum third-party cover to drive in Europe. This means that if you are involved in an accident your insurance company will pay out to the other party involved if required. If you want to cover yourself completely with comprehensive insurance then you will need to check with your insurance company if this comes as standard or you need to pay for an upgrade.

After the UK leaves the EU it will be necessary to also have a Green Card to prove you have at least the minimum insurance required. Of course this is unless a deal is negotiated before the leave date. There is some confusion whether a Green Card will be required as European insurance authorities have said the need for them would be waived last year however this has not been confirmed by the European Commission.

The date of the planned withdrawal from the EU is just when the holiday season starts in earnest. Many schools break up for the Easter holidays on that day with others following a week or so later. If you are planning to drive in Europe it is probably best to contact your insurance company in order to obtain a Green Card. Your proof of insurance certificate should be enough but not everyone speaks English and a Green Card is universally recognised. Some insurance companies only offer 30 or 60 day Green Card cover so be carefully when you request it but make sure you leave enough time for it to be sent to you.

Another item you will need to get if there is no deal is an International Driving Permit (IDP). You may have noticed that your photo ID driving licence has the EU flag on it. There are two types of IDP and one is valid in France and the other in Spain. Bear this in mind if you are travelling to either country and if you are going through both then you will need both. An IDP costs £5.50. Until 31st January you can obtain one online from the AA, RAC and Post Office but this is stopping. There are a limited number of Post Office branches (only 89) that you can get an IDP from but from 1st February this will be extended to 2,500 branches. From 1st February 2019 there will be no online order system. You will need a current, valid UK driving licence and be over 18 to get an IDP. If you are driving in the Republic of Ireland you won't need an IDP.

Are you planning to drive in the EU after Brexit? Have you prepared for the changes?

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Finance Fridays

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