Motorists with UK-registered vehicles will need green cards to legally drive in Ireland (and other EU countries) in the increasingly likely event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
They will be fined and penalised if they do not have the necessary documents and insurance while driving in Ireland.
But Irish motorists will not need “green cards” to cross the border into Northern Ireland or to drive in the UK.
UK and Irish transport officials recently concluded lengthy negotiations and signed an agreement.
Earlier this year, Ireland’s Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, announced that motorists travelling between Britain and Ireland – including those crossing the Border – were told that they need a Green Card to travel legally following a no-deal Brexit.
This was intended as a demonstration to law enforcement agencies of valid motor insurance.
As a result, up to a million Irish drivers scrambled to get green cards ahead of Britain’s initial deadline to leave the EU in March, later extended to 31 October.
Green cards, an internationally recognised motor insurance document, are issued by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) to insurance companies and brokers, who then choose whether to supply them to policyholders.
After lengthy talks with the MIBI, the UK department of transport agreed to accept valid Irish insurance discs as proof of cover in Britain in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Currently, Irish-registered vehicles that travel within the EU are covered by the terms of the EU Motor Insurance Directive.
But following ‘no deal’ UK-registered vehicles would require Green Cards to be driven in Ireland.
The MIBI issued approximately one million green cards to insurers ahead of the previous Brexit deadline last March, but the organisation does not collect figures on how many motorists had availed of the cards.
In some cases, insurance companies issued the cards to their policyholders automatically.
Elsewhere, companies or brokers issued the cards to motorists living in border areas, with the cards available for other policyholders on request.
David Fitzgerald, MIBI chief executive, said that the agreement is “positive news” that should come as a “relief” to anyone who needs to travel to the UK, especially those who travel from Ireland to the North.
“Thankfully, the UK has now confirmed that valid insurance discs meet the requirements set out in UK legislation and so can be used as proof of motor insurance cover in the UK… This should make insurance recognition much simpler for those travelling to the UK, including Northern Ireland,” Mr Fitzgerald told The Irish Times newspaper.
As Ireland is subject to the collective EU position on the Motor Insurance directive, it could not unilaterally give UK-registered vehicles an exemption to travel in the country without a green card.
UK motorists travelling without the card in the Republic, or the rest of the EU, could be treated as an uninsured driver, and face penalties.
Mr Fitzgerald added there had been “a lot of concern” from motorists earlier this year over the green card issue.
With current negotiations for a Brexit deal at an impasse, Britain is set to leave the EU on October 31st. The British government’s demands, that the backstop clause to prevent any return to a hard border in Ireland is removed, continue facing stern opposition from Ireland and the EU.
By Colin Gannon