Motorists travelling between Britain and Ireland – including those crossing the Border – will need a Green Card to travel legally following a no-deal Brexit, Ireland’s Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney has confirmed.
The unprecedented and historic defeat for British Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement in Westminster increased the probability of the UK crashing out of the European Union without a deal.
If the UK leaves the EU without a divorce deal, all motor vehicles travelling between the Republic of Ireland and the UK – including between Northern Ireland – will require a Green Card to demonstrate to law enforcement agencies they have valid motor insurance.
Anyone who plans on driving their Irish-registered vehicle in Northern Ireland – or their UK-registered vehicle in Ireland – should contact their insurer or insurance broker one month in advance of their expected travel date.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI), and its Irish equivalent, the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI), have sent out hundreds of thousands of application forms to insurers and brokers across Ireland and the UK ahead of Britain’s planned departure from the European Union on 29 March.
Those affected include people who drive across the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland border, anyone planning to take their vehicle to Europe and freight companies planning to transport goods into the EU after 29 March.
Although European insurance authorities agreed last year to waive the need for Green Cards in the event of a no-deal Brexit, it has not been confirmed by the European Commission.
The UK government, however, is still pressing for the European Commission to give the Green Card-waiver a green light.
“The UK meets all requirements to remain a part of the Green Card-free circulation zone when we leave the EU, and we urge the Commission to issue a decision which would ensure UK motorists can drive in the EU without a Green Card,” a spokesperson from the Department for Transport has said.
The card is an international insurance document which shows proof that a motorist has the minimum level of car insurance required by a country they are visiting.
Currently, Irish-registered vehicles that travel within the EU are covered by the terms of the EU Motor Insurance Directive. However, as a direct result of a no-deal scenario, UK-registered vehicles would be required to obtain a Green Card to travel to Ireland.
The industry has reportedly been preparing for a no-deal scenario for months, but the MIBI has warned motorists about the potential requirement for a Green Card to travel to the UK in a bid to address confusion over what form Brexit will take.
Green Cards will not be required if an agreement is reached between the UK and the EU on Brexit, or if a transitional arrangement is implemented, the ABI advised.
Green Cards provide a guarantee of insurance for a minimum of 15 days and can remain valid until the expiry date of the motor insurance policy, providing cover for multiple trips.
This is to ensure they receive their Green Card in sufficient time.
MIBI, a not for profit organisation established to compensate victims of road traffic accidents, said that they had hoped a deal would have been agreed so that the green card system could have been avoided.
“Our hope is that a deal will be agreed between the UK and the EU, meaning there will be no disruption to the motor insurance status quo for those travelling between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland or the UK,” David Fitzgerald, MIBI’s Chief Executive, said.
“We had hoped to avoid the need for Green Cards, however as there continues to be uncertainty as to what the final outcome of the Brexit process will be, we want to raise awareness about the possible implications from a motor insurance perspective.”
Huw Evans, Director General of the ABI, said: “As it looks increasingly possible that a ‘no deal’ Brexit may happen, we want all insurance customers to know the facts about what this means for them.
“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.
When it comes to travel insurance, Mr Evans said that cover would continue to work in the normal way, even in the event that there is no replacement for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) system that allows people some free healthcare in the EU.
However, he added: “Customers should always double-check their travel insurance policy meets their full needs.”
Simon Coveney, Ireland’s Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, confirmed the potential green card roll-out in the Dáil last week.
“Just to give some guidance here, we’re all working to ensure it will not happen and, in my view, it won’t happen, but should there be a hard Brexit the UK including Northern Ireland will no longer be part of the motor insurance directive, which is an EU directive,” he said.
“This will mean a green card will be required to demonstrate to the authorities in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK if you’re driving there, that valid motor insurance is in place for those vehicles.
“So what the industry is saying – and what we’re saying – is that this is an example of contingency planning in the industry. They will need to be able to show that if they’re stopped in the other jurisdiction, they will need to be able to show they have valid insurance.”