Hard Brexit & Green Cards

A small avatar of a white male with blonde hair and beard wearing a white shirt and red tie beneath a blue jacket.
By Ben Scott
Marketing Manager

With all the hullabaloo emanating from the Brexit negotiations, you may have caught wind of the repeated mentions of how a “hard” departure would massively disrupt our lives. From immediate recession, rampant unemployment, surges in immigration, planes being grounded, shops running out of food, hospitals having no medical supplies… and many other equally outlandish claims. The list goes on.

Amidst these absurd fear tactics however are the occasional partial truths and some regulatory change would be inevitable if we split from the bloc. That being said, minor disruption is hardly the end of the world. One such minor
disruption involves the right to travel to the EU by motor vehicle, without the need of arranging a Green Card. Currently the citizens of any country within the European Economic Area (EEA), which includes non-EU membership countries such as Switzerland and Serbia, are able to travel indiscriminately across borders. Until the European Commission ratify the agreement presented by Britain that negates the necessity for Green Cards, a “Hard Brexit” could see a marked return for the pesky document. Even driving between Ireland and Northern Ireland would require the prior arrangement of a Green Card.

“If you live in Northern Ireland and drive to the Republic of Ireland, or if you plan to drive your vehicle to mainland Europe after a no-deal Brexit, you will need a Green Card to prove you are insured. You should contact your insurer before you travel in order to get one. This advice applies to businesses as well as individuals.”
– Huw Evans, Director General for the ABI

What is a Green Card, you ask?

The Green Card is an official document, traditionally printed on green paper, that is presented at the border to prove you have insurance in place on the motor vehicle you are taking abroad. The Department for Transport [Dft] announced last September that there would be no charge for the issuing of a Green Card, whilst the Association of British Insurers noted that insurance firms however could apply a “small administrative charge” if they wished.

In order to arrange a Green Card you would need to contact your insurance broker/company roughly a month before you intend to travel abroad with your motor vehicle.

“Whilst the Green Card Scheme is not European born, there is fear that the EU system of no border checks will no longer be applicable post-Brexit, meaning UK drivers travelling overseas would be required to obtain a Green Card or frontier insurance when driving across European borders. We are working to explore ways to ensure this retrograde step does not happen. Preserving the current system post-Brexit should be achievable and encouraged given that there are already other non-EEA countries which are no longer ‘Green Card Compulsory’.”
– Motor Insurers Bureau [MIB], Website
ferry transporting cars

"Frontier Insurance", what's that?

In brief, Frontier insurance refers to an insurance policy arranged inside a member state of the EEA for a vehicle registered outside of the EEA. Frontier insurance will only provide third party cover; this means that compensation will
be extended to any third party for losses caused by the policyholder, however the policyholder’s own damage will not be covered by the insurance.

Typically Frontier Insurance policies last between 30 days and one year. Arranging Frontier Insurance can be undesirable as this must be done in a foreign country, and will also incur a substantially higher premium than a Green Card issued by your current insurance broker/underwriter. A cursory look on Google will find you Frontier Insurance providers in whichever EEA country you are travelling too.

Should you be concerned? Not really.

Well, at least not yet.

The reality is that nothing is set in stone, and worrying about something that may never happen is as irrational as you can get. It is entirely plausible that the EU could ratify the agreement that was previously arranged to bypass the need for Green Cards or Frontier Insurance and render this whole conversation irrelevant. And even if the agreement is not ratified, how often do you actually take your vehicle to mainland Europe over the course of a year? Is requesting a Green Card from your insurance provider a month before you travel really that much of an issue? We don’t think so.

Ideally we will not need Green Cards, and remain able to travel freely within the EEA similarly to other non-EU members like Andorra and Switzerland. If not, well then we simply request a Green Card in a timely manner before departing. And even if we forget that, Frontier Insurance can be arranged to still allow us to take our vehicle overseas. The point being, it’s not a major issue, and definitely nothing to concern yourself with.

“Around 4.7 million drivers take their cars into Europe each year, excluding commercial traffic and I see no reason why that should change even after a hard Brexit. Insurers already issue green cards for drivers taking their cars beyond European borders and some ask for one for the additional comfort they provide in proving, if needed, that their car is insured. The green card is, after all, essentially a multi-language translation of your insurance certificate set out in an internationally recognisable format.”
– Janet Connor, Director of Insurance for the AA