Driving in Europe in 2021

Last updated February 24, 2021

Having left the European Union (EU) on 31st January 2020, the UK and the EU only recently struck a deal on trade and other aspects of the relationship, which came into force from 1st January 2021. The UK’s departure will see a raft of changes for British motorists driving in Europe after Brexit. This guide sets out the new rules for British motorists driving in the EU, from driving licences to international driving permits.

Value your car in under 60 seconds

Will my driving licence be valid in Europe after Brexit?

In a word, yes – your driving licence will be valid in Europe after Brexit. When the regulations come into force from 1st January, most UK drivers can use their regular driving licence to drive in EU countries. However, there are some exceptions and some drivers may need an International Driving Permit (IDP).

What is an IDP?

An International Driving Permit is a permit that allows you to drive in countries where a UK licence alone is not sufficient. These countries include the USA, Brazil, Japan, and now some EU countries.

Do I need an IDP?

IDPs are required to drive in over 140 countries worldwide, so it’s best to check if you need one before you go. The Post Office has a handy IDP checker tool which allows you to check in seconds by typing the country you’re visiting into the search box.

Where can I get an IDP?

You can buy an IDP for £5.50 at post offices that offer the IDP Service. For convenience, use the Post Office’s branch finder tool to locate your nearest branch that offers the service. To get an IDP, you will need to:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Have a full valid driving licence
  • Have a passport-sized photo
  • Payment of IDP application fee.

With that said, there are some exceptions.

IDP exceptions

There are two main IDP exceptions:

  • Drivers who only have a paper licence (not a photocard)
  • Drivers with licences issued in Jersey, Guernsey, Gibraltar, and the Isle of Man.

If you belong to one of these groups, the government advises you to check with the embassy of the country you’re going to drive in. There is also some published guidance covering legislation in specific countries.

What types of IDP are there?

There are three types of IDP:

  • 1926 – While not an EU member, you’ll need this to drive in Liechtenstein
  • 1949 – Required in countries including Andorra
  • 1968 – Required in countries including France and Germany

You’ll need one of either the IDP 1949 or 1968 to drive in Europe. If you’re driving through two EU countries that require different IDPs, you’ll need the relevant IDP for each of those countries. You can find the full list of worldwide IDP requirements here.

Do I need insurance to drive in Europe after Brexit?

You’ll need a green card, which proves your car is covered when driving in the EU. You can obtain a green card from your insurer, providing you contact them six weeks before departure.

If you take a trailer or caravan, you’ll need a separate green card for them too. Bear in mind that the green card only covers you for minimum level third-party cover, so it won’t necessarily match the policy you have in the UK.

Do I need a GB sticker on my car?

You will need a GB sticker on your car unless your number plate displays ’GB’ on it, either alone or next to a union flag. However, if the ‘GB’ is alongside an EU flag or the flag of either England, Wales or Scotland, you’ll still need a separate GB sticker.

When driving in Spain, Malta or Cyprus, you’ll need to attach a GB sticker regardless of your number plate. You’ll also need to take your V5C logbook along with you if you own the car. If you hire or lease a vehicle; however, you’ll need a VE103 form to prove you can take it out of the UK.