Touring the EU after Brexit – 5 things to consider

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If you live in in the UK and don’t live under a rock, you’ll no doubt know that after years of debate, negotiations and slander we finally have an end date to the political mess that is Brexit. A date that the UK will finally divorce the EU. As it stands of now that date it the 31st of October 2019.

The first thing that most people feel when they hear the word “Brexit” is uncertainty. Uncertainty over the economy, uncertainty over trade deals and the most important for us and many motorhome/campervan enthusiasts just like us, the uncertainty over our winter tour of the EU.

UPDATE: Seen as I wrote this mid September but never got around to publishing it the above information is not strictly accurate. Once again, the bickering and point scoring behaviour of our somewhat juvenile political leaders has led us adrift and in need of another extension to the madness that is Brexit.

Failing to “die in a ditch” Boris Johnson decided to fold under the political pressure and agree to yet another extension until the 31st of January 2020.

But what will change!?

Well that is the question that everybody’s asking. As with everything “Brexit” nothing is, you guessed it, certain! A lot of the final details hinge on whether a deal is struck between the UK and the EU. If Boris can get his head out of it, get a deal made before the 31st of October then for the time being, there is nothing to worry about.

However, if Boris and the other 27 EU nations can’t come to some sort of amicable arrangement and the UK parliament fail to force another extension then as it stands, the UK will leave the EU on the 31st of October 2019 without a deal.

But what does this mean for all of us motorhome, campervan and wobble box owners who want to escape the impending misery that is the British winter and tour the EU after Brexit?

As I’ve already said, there is absolutely nothing concrete about what will change regarding driving in the EU after Brexit. With that said, there are a few advisories and things to get done in order to make certain your plans for a winter on the South coast of Spain can still happen.

What is “likely” to happen with a no deal Brexit?

The first and most important thing is we will still be able to go. However, if we leave without a deal then some of the current arrangements that make travelling to the continent so stress free and easy will cease.

Here’s the………. main things that are likely to change and how you can prepare for each of them should the worst happen.

You’ll need one or more IDP’s (International Drivers Permit)

At the moment you can just catch a ferry across the channel and drive around on your UK driver license with anyone batting an eyelid. As of 31st October following a “no deal Brexit” that will all change.

Depending on what country/s you wish to visit you’ll need either one, two or three IDP’s or International Drivers Permits. In total there are three different IDP’s, the 1926, 1949 and the 1968.

So here’s which IDP you’ll need depending on which countries you wish to visit:

The 1926 IDP is valid in:

  • Liechtenstein

The 1949 IDP is valid for 12 months in:

  •  Ireland, Spain, Malta and Cyprus

The 1968 IDP is valid for 3 years in:

  • all other EU countries as well as Norway and Switzerland

So how do you go about getting these IDP’s?

Thankfully getting you IDP’s is pretty straight forward and doesn’t take hours to apply, nor do they take weeks to come. All you have to do is check which is your nearest post office that supplies the IDP.

Head down there with your:  

  • Full valid UK photo-card driving licence,
  • a passport standard photograph,
  • your valid passport as proof of identification if presenting an older paper version licence.
  • Plus £5.50 per IDP you wish to apply for.

The process only takes 5-10 minutes per permit. So I think you’ll agree, needing IDP’s isn’t the end of the world.

You’ll need to get a GB sticker.

Currently, any car that has the blue EU registration plates that also displays the GB initials does not need to display the GB sticker but once again if there’s a no deal Brexit that will change.

Any car that is registered to the UK will need to display one of the big GB stickers on the back to enter any of the 27 EU member states. Regardless of the fact that they have the GB initials on their number plate.

Another easy one….

You’ll need a Green Card

At the moment, there seems to be some confusion/misunderstanding about whether or not you need a green card from your insurance to travel on the continent. As it Stands, you DO NOT always need a green card to prove 3rd party insurance. It actually states this on my insurance paperwork.

However, according the official government website you WILL need a green card following a no deal exit from the EU. You will need a green card for any motorised vehicle, trailer or caravan. If towing a caravan you’ll need one green card for the tow car and one for the caravan.

Also, if your insurance is renewed while you’re away you’ll need a green card for each of the two policies.

How do you get a green card?

To get a green card all you have to do is contact you insurer and if your insurance is valid in Europe then they shouldn’t have any problem in issuing you one free of charge.

One thing to note however is that from the day of contacting your insurer to you actually receiving your green card can be up to one month, so don’t leave it until the last minute.

Be prepared make a insurance claim in a foreign language

This is probably the biggest grey area. After much research I still can’t find anything concrete.

The best that I can make out is that if you’re hit by an uninsured driver or the 3rd party flee’s the scene then the odds are you won’t receive any compensation as we won’t be subject to the same EU laws.

Another point is that if in the unfortunate event that you are involved in an accident then you won’t be able to make a claim via the usual routes. For example using the MIB (motor insurers bureau) or a UK-based claims representative.

In a way you’ll be on your own to sort it out in person. Not an easy task if like us you don’t speak French.

You’ll need to jump through hoops to take your pet with you

This is probably the worst one for dog owners. No longer will your standard pet passport be enough to get your beloved pooch onto the continent.

Following a no deal the UK will change from a part of the EU club to “unlisted country” and that means hoops to jump through for pet owners.

The first time the government published advise on this matter was way back in November 2018 and recommended leaving at least 4 months before leaving to get it sorted. I hope you’re not reading this now with a ferry booked for 2 weeks time.

The hoops to jump through if you wish to take your dog, cat or ferret with you are:

  1. Your pet must be microchipped.
  2. Your pet must have a blood test take at least 30 days after its last rabies vaccination or booster.
  3. The blood must be sent to an EU approved testing lab.
  4. You pet must have an rabies antibody level of at least 0.5UI/ml
  5. 3 months since the date of the successful blood sample must pass.
  6. You must take your pet to get a health certificate from an official veterinarian within 10 days of travel date.

By far the biggest change to travelling the EU by motorhome after brexit.


So that’s the main potential changes that us motorhome/camper enthusiasts face when travelling the EU this winter but also there are a couple of other things not to forget:

  • You must take you original copy of vehicle logbook (V5) with you
  • Also original insurance certificate
  • Original drivers license
  • Roadside safety kit

In summary…..

To sum it all up, the potential worst case scenario is all that bad. Pet owner must give themselves plenty of time to get their pets sorted with the correct paperwork but apart from that driving in the UK after Brexit isn’t anything more than a bit of a paperwork exercise.

Just be prepared and all will be well.

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