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BREXIT

British drivers will no longer need an insurance ‘green card’ to visit Europe, EU rules

The post-Brexit requirement for drivers from the UK to obtain a 'green card' from their insurance company before visiting Europe is set to be dropped after the European Commission agreed to waive the requirement.

British drivers will no longer need an insurance 'green card' to visit Europe, EU rules
Photo: Christophe Petit Tesson/AFP

The announcement from the Commission on Thursday was part of a package of measures designed to diffuse tension over the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, but will apply throughout the EU.

The new rule will come into effect 20 days after the ruling is published in the EU’s official journal, which is expected to be in the next few days.

This means that British visitors taking their cars when going on holidays or family visits to France, Germany, Spain etc will no longer be required to obtain extra paperwork from their car insurance companies ahead of their journey.

Readers of a certain age will remember the ‘green cards’ – issued by the insurance company before a trip abroad. The internationally recognised card shows local law enforcement that the car is fully insured.

This requirement returned after the end of the Brexit transition period, although in practice not all insurance companies were issuing the cards and some told customers that they were not necessary.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) described the decision as excellent news for drivers.

Its director general, Huw Evans, told British newspaper The Guardian that the Commission had 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,” he said.

“It will be especially welcomed by motorists in Northern Ireland driving across the border.”

Bilateral deals on driving licences mean that most EU countries continue to allow British tourists and visitors to drive on UK licences (although British residents in some countries have to swap their licence for a local one) and an International Driver’s Permit is not necessary.

There are, however, still plenty of extra requirements in place for Brits coming into EU countries, from changes to passports rules for both humans and pets to a ban on ham sandwiches – check out the complete list of new rules HERE.

Member comments

  1. Excellent! One less piece of paper to carry! Fingers crossed those of us injected with AZ India are allowed to travel without quarantine

  2. “British drivers” and “drivers from the UK” are very different, though in this article they are treated as synonymous.

    I, for example, am British, being born in Jersey, but I am not from the UK.

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For members

DRIVING

7 things to know about driving in Austria this summer

Taking a summer road trip through Austria is always fun, just make sure that you know what to expect before hitting Austrian roads this summer.

7 things to know about driving in Austria this summer

Busy weekends

Being stuck in traffic on a hot day is frustrating, but you can avoid busy times on Austrian roads with the dedicated traffic calendar (Staukalender) by the Austrian Automobile, Motorcycle and Touring Club (ÖAMTC)

Every year, the ÖAMTC collects details about public holidays, planned construction work, border controls and events to help motorists better plan their trips and make changes to an itinerary.

Users can also click on a specific date to be redirected to the ÖAMTC route planner for further details about traffic, parking spots and nearby petrol stations along a route.

Both the traffic calendar and the route planner are available on desktop or via the ÖAMTC app.

READ MORE: What is Austria’s ‘traffic calendar’ and how can it help me save time?

High fuel prices

Just in case anyone is unaware, fuel is very expensive right now, which means the days of a cheap road trip in Austria are over (for the foreseeable future, anyway).

Thankfully, the ÖAMTC has another useful app to help motorists find the cheapest fuel prices in their area, or wherever they are travelling in Austria.

In the app, users can search by petrol or diesel (depending on their vehicle) to view details of current prices at petrol stations in the selected area.

Additionally, for anyone travelling through Austria and into neighbouring countries, like Italy or Slovenia, it could be worth waiting to fill up the car until after crossing the border. 

The cost of fuel is currently significantly cheaper in many other countries outside of Austria.

FOR MEMBERS: Ten ways to save money on your trip to Austria this summer

Vignette

In order to drive on Austria’s motorways you need a small toll sticker known as a vignette. 

While these may seem odd to some foreigners, they are absolutely essential for all cars, motorbikes and camper vans – and anyone not displaying one on a motorway or expressway risks a fine of at least €120. 

Vignettes are available at around 6,000 outlets across the country, so anyone who fails to get one will have few excuses. 

A list of outlets is available here and digital vignettes are also available online.  

Unlike the sticker, digital vignettes are affixed to the licence plate. 

High-vis vests

If you breakdown on a road in Austria and need to leave the car, it’s essential to wear a high-vis jacket in either yellow, red or orange. 

It’s also required to place a breakdown triangle near the car to alert others drivers and rescue vehicles.

Rental cars should already be equipped with this kit, but if you’re driving your own vehicle, be sure to pick up a vest and breakdown triangle before setting off. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: Can I take the Austrian driving licence test in English?

Toll (Maut)

Despite having a vignette, some roads in Austria are also subject to a toll.

For example, it costs €38 for a car day ticket to drive along the Grossglockner High Alpine Road in the High Tauern National Park. The price for a motorbike is €28.

Other toll roads are the Brenner Pass (A13) in Tyrol, the Karawanken Tunnel that connects Austria and Slovenia, and the A26 Linz Freeway Westring in Upper Austria.

Alcohol and driving

In Austria, the legal blood alcohol level is 0.5 milligrams of alcohol per millilitre of blood. 

Penalties for driving under the influence in Austria are severe with a fine up to €5,900, and the possibility of losing a driving licence for one year.

If in doubt, stick to the soft drinks if planning to drive in Austria.

FOR MEMBERS: COMPARE: Which countries in Europe have the strictest drink-drive limits?

Police and speed traps

During the summertime, police are often out in force along Austrian roads to catch speeding drivers.

The national speed limits in the Alpine country are 50 km/hr within the city limits, 100 km/hr outside of the city limits and 130 km/hr on motorways (unless otherwise stated).

To avoid being caught out, be sure to pay attention to the speed limits when driving. But if you do get stopped by police, be prepared to pay the fine straight away.

Police in Austria will accept cash or card payments for speeding fines.

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