A no-deal Brexit scenario may require fleets and drivers to carry international driving permits (IDPs) and insurance ‘green cards’ in order to drive or rent vehicles in Europe, according to a Department for Transport (DfT) paper.
For insurance purposes, UK motorists currently need only a driving license and passport when crossing borders within the EU, as well as in Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland. UK drivers’ licences also remain valid within the European Union up until the March 29th deadline in 2019.
However, after this date, both an IDP and a ‘green card’ may be required for drivers to prove they have the minimum insurance coverage needed to travel in the relevant country.
Head of European policy at the Freight Transport Association (FTA), Pauline Bastidon, said the introduction of IDPs would bring “an array of red tape and paperwork” for UK businesses. In response, the FTA is pressuring the Government to negotiate with the EU to prevent chaos in the logistics sector
“While it is encouraging to finally see some of the Government’s plans for a no-deal Brexit, which provide helpful clarifications in some areas, there are still key processes to be agreed if the UK logistics sector and ‘just-in-time’ economy is to be protected,” Bastidon said.
“Of real concern is that these IDP permits would not be available to purchase at every post office, and will not be on sale until February 1, 2019, leaving operators precious little time to undertake the necessary administration ahead of Brexit day itself.”
An IDP is required or recommended in approximately 140 countries, consisting of a multilingual translation of a driving licence. There are also two different types of IDP needed, depending on the EU nation in question, defined by two distinct United Nations conventions - the Geneva Convention (1949) and Vienna Convention (1968).
In Ireland, Spain, Malta and Cyprus, an IDP covered by the 1949 convention is valid for 12 months. In all other EU countries, including both Norway and Switzerland, the 1968 convention IDP remains valid for three years or as long as a driving licence is valid (whichever is earlier). Without a valid IDP, drivers can be refused entry at borders or face further disciplinary action, including fines.
The primary outlet for IDPs is the Post Office, with no online alternative currently available. Drivers must make an application costing £5.50, providing a filled out form alongside their existing licence, a passport photo and proof of identity. While the application process takes around five minutes, an IDP’s ratification can take up to three months.
Insurance green cards are currently available free of charge. However, insurance providers may be prompted to increase administration fees if production and handling costs rise due to a spike in demand.
A representative of the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, presently responsible for handing out green cards in the UK, said: “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.”
The Post Office refused to comment on whether an online IDP service is planned to assist drivers and businesses. However, a Post Office spokesman stated the organisation is working with the Government to deliver an enhanced service across thousands of additional branch locations, if required.