What do you need to drive in the EU after Brexit, including International Driving Permits, GB car stickers and other documents you must carry
With an expansion of the travel lists, and quarantine rules scrapped for the double vaccinated returning from France, more travellers may be planning to hit the road to Europe in the coming weeks or months.
But in a post-Brexit world, some things have changed since British drivers were last on the continent and with lockdowns and travel restrictions in place since the start of this year, only now are many drivers discovering what those new rules mean for business trips and holidays.
Motoring expert Joel Kempson from comparison site Uswitch said: "For Brits, driving in the EU has, for many years, been straightforward. Once you were used to driving on the right-hand side of the road, you were free to drive through Europe. However, now the UK has left the EU, driving into Europe is not as simple as it once was."
If you're considering taking the car to Europe in the next few weeks or months, and don't want to get caught out while travelling, here are some things you might need to know:
Are UK driving licences still valid in Europe after Brexit?
Driving licences issued in the UK are still valid when driving in EU member states.
However, if you are one of the estimated 3,000 drivers in the UK still using an old paper licence and haven't yet taken out a photocard upgrade, you will also need an International Driving Permit to drive abroad in many EU countries.
If in doubt, government advice is to check with the embassy of the country you are visiting in to acquire the most up-to-date rules.
International Driving Permits explained...
If you are still driving with a paper licence you'll need an International Driving Permit for Europe. The permit is required in 27 EU countries as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. There are three types of permits and it's crucial to make sure you have the correct one.
Lease company Nationwide Vehicle Contracts warns that being caught behind the wheel without the correct EDP could risk a fine, a court summons or having a vehicle confiscated.
A 1926 IDP is only required if you wish to drive through or in Lichtenstein, a 1949 IDP is for Cyprus, Iceland, Malta and Spain and the third, a 1968 IDP is for all other EU/EEA countries. IDPs cost £5.50, last three years and can be bought from most post offices.
If you are flying to Europe but plan to hire a car on arrival, it would also be worth just double checking that no car hire company requires an IDP, regardless of whether your licence is a paper version or a photocard.
Because of a special Post-Brexit arrangement the UK has with the Irish Republic, says Nationwide Vehicle Contracts, British drivers travelling to Ireland do not require a special driving permit beyond their licence.
Keith Hawes, Director of Nationwide Vehicle Contracts, says as holidays resume, understanding the new rules for driving is crucial.
He explained: "Things are slowly but surely returning to something approaching, if not normality, then a world that’s more familiar. This means, for those wishing to go to specific places, summer holidays are back on the cards. But travellers need to be aware of how much the world has changed, and not just due to the pandemic either.
"Not everyone will manage to get away this summer, but if people do, we want to make sure they aren’t left unawares or unprepared when driving in Europe."
Other documents you'll need
Your driving licence - and possibly an IDP - are not the only documents your trip to Europe will require.
Comparison site Uswitch is reminding motorists that they will be required to carry a V5c logbook with them if driving a vehicle they own. Alternatively if the vehicle you're using is hired or leased you'll need a VE103 to prove you are allowed to take it out of the UK.
This legal document acts as an alternative to the V5C logbook and contains details of the car such as its registration number, make and model and also the details of the person leasing the vehicle and the length of the contract that has been taken out. You can read more of Uswitch's advice here.
Don't forget that car sticker
Now that we have left the EU, you can no longer travel with an EU car sticker. From now until the end of September, outlines Uswitch, you need a GB sticker that is clearly displayed to drive in the EU – unless your number plate has one on it already.
If your vehicle has an EU, England, Scotland, or Wales flag alongside a GB mark on your number plate, then you will also need a GB sticker – or can run the risk of a fine from the local authorities.
However, if you’re planning on driving in Spain, Malta, or Cyprus, says Joel Kempson from the comparison site, you will need a separate GB sticker displayed regardless of what is on your number plate. And if you are travelling after September 28, you will need to buy a new ‘UK’ number plate or ensure a UK sticker is visible on the rear of your vehicle, rather than a GB one.
Smaller rules you mustn't overlook
One of the most popular driving holiday destinations, France, has a number of existing laws it's also worth reminding yourself of. While not Brexit related it's important to remember for safety reasons, all cars on French roads must carry on board a warning triangle and have a high-vis jacket stowed to be worn in an emergency.
The French also expect all drivers to carry a breathalyser kit at all times. Disposable breathalysers are readily available and it’s recommended that you carry two of these so that if one is used, you can continue on your journey with a spare.