Driving in Europe after BREXIT- 10 things you need to know

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Worried about driving in Europe after BREXIT? Concerned about how the rule changes and new legislation will affect you if the UK leaves without a deal?

There’s no denying that there will be some changes for anyone wishing to visit Europe from the UK after BREXIT, especially if there is a no-deal exit, but very few of them are difficult- they’re just time-consuming and require a little bit more planning than the current system.

Let’s break it down section by section

DISCLAIMER: I will do my very best to ensure this post is up-to-date and as accurate as possible, but cannot be held responsible if any information below becomes incorrect. (If you do find anything which needs updating, please do send me an email or message and let me know.) Last update- 2nd February 2020



Driving in Europe after BREXIT- 10 things you need to know

Prefer videos to reading? No problem, you can watch the video of this post right here- just click the image below

(Please remember this video was filmed BEFORE a deal was agreed- it no longer has all the latest information)

NOTE: We are now in the transition zone, having officially left the EU. Nothing much will change until end of December 2020, but keep up-to-date on the latest developments so there are no surprises for you. Whenever ‘after BREXIT' is mentioned in this post, it means after the transition period

Driving in Europe after BREXIT- Green Card & Insurance

If you have purchased insurance which covers you and your vehicle to drive in Europe, you will need a green card. You get these from your insurer and there may be an additional charge for them. Apply at least one month before you are due to travel and make sure the details on the card are correct- we’ve heard several instances of something being wrong and a new one being needed.


Yes, you will need an International Driving Permit after BREXIT (as well as a valid driving licence). Don’t forget that there are 3 different versions you might need- here’s an in-depth guide on how to get an International Driving Permit and which one(s) you need.

Will EU driving licence be valid in UK after BREXIT?

Your current driving licence will continue to be valid for driving in Europe, even if it has the EU symbol. Obviously, it needs to be in date and you must have a licence for the vehicle you are driving.

Hiring a motorhome or car in Europe after BREXIT

Yes, you can still hire a car or motorhome in Europe after BREXIT. You will need:

  • a valid driving licence
  • An IDP for that country
  • Possibly a code from the DVLA- check with the hire company in advance


Driving in Europe after BREXIT- get a GB sticker on your vehicle

You MUST have a GB sticker or reg plate on the back of your car- the EU logo will no longer be acceptable. I fully expect the French police to assign 5,000,000 officers to northern France in order to fine as many unsuspecting British tourists as they can for their lack of official GB sticker. #Toocynical??

Check your Passport

British passports MUST have at least 6 months left on them before you enter the European Union.

Also, any passport older than 10 years needs to be renewed asap. You can do this online or at your local Post Office.

This is really important- many passports over the last 10+ years have been issued with an extra 9 months on them- but this will not be acknowledged by the EU. So if your passport was issued on 01 September 2010, it will expire (in the EUs eyes) on 01 September 2020, regardless of the actual expiry date.

The government has a website so you can check if your passport is compliant or if you need to change it. Children’s passports are normally only valid for 5 years, so shouldn’t be a problem.

There has been much discussion over what the situation might be if you happen to be in Europe at the end of the transition period.

As long as your passport is valid, you will be able to return to the UK, even if you have less than 6 months on it. You will possibly not be able to cross a border at an official checkpoint (for example, driving from Spain through France and back to the tunnel should be fine, but trying to enter Norway with less than 6 months might be difficult.)

YOU DO NOT NEED A BLUE PASSPORT- keep using your red one until you need to renew it, even if it says EU on the cover. However, you won’t be able to use the EU citizen entry lanes at border control.

Driving in Europe after BREXIT- don't be put off planning a trip.
Driving in Europe after BREXIT- don't be put off planning a trip.

Will I need a VISA to visit Europe after BREXIT?

There is a strong likelihood that in the future all British Citizens will need to apply for a European Travel Information and Authorisation Scheme (ETIAS) visa in advance. These will work similarly to the USA ESTAs and are proposed to be active in 2021. It is aimed at reducing the “migration, security or public-health risk” from nationals of visa-exempt third countries

At the moment, estimated costs are at 7€ and the ETIAS will be valid for 3 years (although that doesn’t necessarily mean you can spend 3 years exploring Europe non-stop).

Medical treatment in Europe after BREXIT

The EHIC free card which currently gives access to free medical care in Europe could cease to be valid in the event of a no-deal BREXIT. You MUST ensure you have valid travel insurance (ideally one which offers repatriation to the UK) and that the insurance covers pre-existing conditions (many of the cheaper ones do not)


Talking of which, if you are worried about travel delays, you can purchase special travel disruption cover which may (read the small print!) cover you against BREXIT delays. Personally, we won’t be buying this, but there are companies who offer it if you are concerned.

Driving in Europe after BREXIT- Mobile Phones

This is potentially one of the more frustrating aspects of BREXIT for those of us who travel frequently. Currently, we are very happy with our UK SIM and data packages which allow us to roam around Europe with almost no additional costs.

This may cease after BREXIT as the ban on roaming charges is an EU initiative, not a British one. The government have imposed a cap on the amount mobile companies are allowed to charge (£45 per trip) but this just means when you have used £45 of data you won’t be able to access the internet…

However, many UK companies are still considering offering competitive roaming packages- sensing that it will be a factor for many UK mobile users. So shop around and get the best deal. Allow at least a month before travel if you plan on switching- you don’t want to get stuck overseas and not able to reactivate a SIM.

Driving in Europe after BREXIT with your dog
Driving in Europe after BREXIT with your dog

Taking your dog to Europe after BREXIT

In February 2020, we have loosely secured some form of deal, but the finer details are yet to be agreed and nothing is concrete. 

If there is a complete collapse and we leave with a ‘no-deal', we become an ‘unlisted country' & the current pet passport scheme will no longer be valid for travel to Europe.

Instead, these are the steps you will need to take:

  • Ensure your dog is microchipped and vaccinated against rabies 
  • Your dog needs a blood sample taken within 30 days of its last rabies jab, which is then sent to an EU-approved lab for testing.
  • Once you hear that this sample was successful, you must wait at least 3 months from the date the blood was taken BEFORE you can travel.
  • Your vet will give you an AHC (animal health certificate) which you need to travel with.

If the blood sample is not successful (Mac took 3 goes at his!), you need to get another rabies injection, then another sample… and the whole thing starts again. So it could take 4/5 months to get an AHC. 

Getting the Animal Health Certificate

On top of all this fun, you can't get the AHC until up to 10 days before you travel- you need to visit the vet. NOT ALL VETS CAN ISSUE AHCs- make sure you book an appointment with one who can.

You will need to take:

  • Proof of successful rabies test
  • Microchip details and date
  • Pet vaccination record

Once issued, the AHC is only valid for:

  • 10-days for you to enter the EU
  • 4 months travel within the EU
  • 4 months (from date of issue, not date of entry!) for re-entry to the UK

It's not entirely clear what the process will be if you want to enter the EU, then leave again for a month or so (perhaps a trip to Morocco,) then re-enter in order to travel back to the UK. I've asked DEFRA and they couldn't give a clear answer at this time.

You will need a NEW AHC each time you plan to leave the UK with your pet- even if it's within the 4 months. (please don't throw things at the screen- I didn't make these crazy rules)

How to enter the EU with a pet after BREXIT

To enter the EU with a pet, you will need:

  • microchip details
  • proof of successful blood test results
  • AHC
  • vaccination record
  • proof of tapeworm treatment (if travelling from somewhere which requires it, such as Malta)


Returning to the UK

The process of returning to the UK will not change. You will still need to find a vet 1-5 days before travel back to the UK and get a tapeworm treatment.


These are the worst-case scenarios. There is a small chance that the UK might become a Part 1 listed country, instead of unlisted, in which case the pet-passport scheme should continue. But plan for worst-case to avoid having your holiday plans disrupted. 


Will my UK bank card be valid?

After the UK voted to leave the EU, there were several horror stories about people’s UK cards being declined and them being unable to withdraw money. However, since then there have been no problems at all- I personally have used my UK cards many times without issue. So I think it’s unlikely to be a problem

Driving in Europe after Brexit- Will there be huge delays at borders?

Possibly. As third-country nationals, we will no longer be permitted unconditional entry to the EU. Which means border control officials may question your reason for visiting, your plans and if you have adequate finances to support yourself.

Some countries, such as Portugal, have already said they intend to allow UK passport holders to use ‘fast-track lanes’ so, after the initial ‘settling-in’ period, I doubt we’ll see much difference.

One possible delay could be on either the ferry or Eurotunnel– the government has gone to great lengths to put together plans for severe congestion in Kent in the event of a no-deal.

If you are driving to Europe after BREXIT, there is a chance you could get caught in these delays, although it will mainly be commercial traffic at Dover and Folkestone.

Brittany Ferries and other ferry operators from other ports, such as Portsmouth and Poole, are planning to continue as normal and do not envision lengthy delays.

I hope you now feel a little more prepared or knowledgable about what you need to do after BREXIT. Whether we get a good deal or not, your travel plans shouldn't be affected at all unless you want to spend more than 3 months in Europe non-stop… we're still waiting to find out how that might work.

Again, some of this info may well change if a deal goes through, so do please keep checking right up until departure to get the latest info.


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Europe road trip tips- driving in Europe after BREXIT 2020

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5 thoughts on “Driving in Europe after BREXIT- 10 things you need to know”

    • Hi Ann- you tank size is fine but of course you will need to refill it often. It won’t last the whole month!! 🙂

  1. How easy and difficult at the same time, is to enter and leave the European Union, hopefully this year 2020 with the arrival of the Visa ETIAS we can be more calm without so much paperwork.

  2. Hi Kat, What is likely to happen to UK citizens planning a longer trip in Europe (say 6 months) in the event of no deal brexit. What are the likely outcomes?

    • Oh Peter- I do wish I had a crystal ball so I could help answer this. The sad fact is that at the moment the ‘likely’ outcome is 3 months max touring Europe before having to return to the UK for 3 months. We currently have no way of knowing if there will be a possibility to extend this, which is going to be a great shame if not.


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