Since Brexit, drivers with a British or Northern Irish licence have been legally required to carry a green card as proof that they have sufficient insurance cover to drive in the EU. This includes drivers travelling between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
However, the European Commission has now agreed to ditch the requirement as part of a wider package of concessions designed to ease tensions around the Northern Ireland protocol.
Green cards are an internationally recognised means of proving that a driver has insurance cover for driving in another country. Pre-Brexit the UK was part of the “free circulation zone” which waived the requirement to carry such proof. However, since the UK left the EU, drivers have needed to carry a physical copy of the card along with their other documents.
The change is expected to come into effect by the start of August but anyone travelling to the free circulation zone – which includes EU nations plus Bosnia & Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Serbia or Andorra – before then will still be required to obtain and carry a green card.
Huw Evans, director general at the Association of British Insurers said: “This is excellent news. We have long campaigned for the UK to be part of the green card free circulation zone so we warmly welcome the decision by the European Commission.
“The Commission has taken a pragmatic approach on the matter. UK drivers will no longer need to apply for a green card through their insurer which will help reduce bureaucracy for drivers and road hauliers travelling between the UK and EU. It will be especially welcomed by motorists in Northern Ireland driving across the border to the Republic of Ireland.”
Drivers between the two countries make around 43 million cross-border trips a year, with UK motorists making an estimated 12.6m trips to EU countries annually before the Covid pandemic.
Clare Egan, head of motor product at insurer Admiral, added: “Although the decision is yet to take effect, it’s a welcome change that will hopefully be rubber stamped by the European Union soon so that things are a little less complicated for Brits who are still hoping for a getaway this year but who would prefer to drive to Europe instead of flying there.