In a pre-Brexit world, driving in Europe was easy and hassle-free: Britons simply needed to hop in their cars and remember to drive on the right side of the road. But driving in Europe after Brexit is about to get a little more difficult for Britons, thanks to new driving rules that will be put in place from 28th September 2021.
Here’s everything you need to know about driving in Europe post Brexit and how to make the process as smooth and easy as possible:
What Do I Need to Drive in Europe
New guidelines being introduced in September will change the number plate national identifiers that visitors from the UK will need to use when they drive in Europe: rather than having to display a ‘GB sticker’ the vehicle identifier will change to read UK instead. This UK identifier can either be placed on the number plate, alongside an image of the union flag, or it can be placed on your car separately in the form of a sticker or magnet. If you have a number plate that reads ‘GB’ or displays the EU’s flag (golden stars on a blue background) then you will no longer be able to use this to drive in Europe from 28th September 2021. A new UK sticker should, therefore, be on your driving in Europe checklist before your next trip to the continent.
If you don’t have an identifier on your number plate then it is cheaper and easier to invest in a sticker or magnet to drive in Europe: these new UK stickers are being introduced to be more inclusive of residents from Northern Ireland, which isn’t a part of Great Britain (GB) but is part of the United Kingdom (UK). If you already have a GB number plate then according to the Department for Transport: "GB number plates will still be valid within the EU as long as drivers display a UK sticker on the rear of their vehicle."
Other Changes for Driving in Europe Post Brexit
Whilst the number plates on your car may need to change, the good news is that your driving license won’t need to change in order to visit Spain or the EU. Your photocard driving license issued by the UK government will enable you to drive anywhere in Europe, which was something many British drivers have been concerned about. You won’t need a special driving licence to drive in Europe. The only exception to this sweeping rule is if you don’t have a photocard driving license (only a paper one) or if your license was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man. If any of these circumstances apply then you will need to apply for and receive an International Driving Permit (IDP) before you are able to jump in your car and drive in an EU country. These are very easy to obtain and can be purchased for just £5.50 from the Post Office in the UK. There are three different types of International Driving Permits that can be issued to citizens of the UK: these are the 1926, 1949 or 1968 permits. The permit you will need will depend on which country you are visiting, and their specific guidelines and requirements. If you’re not sure which type of International Driving Permit to purchase then you are advised to contact the embassy of the country you are hoping to visit, so that you can understand the specific driving requirements for that country, and ensure that you have everything you will need in place.
Driving in Spain After Brexit
Whilst this may sound like hard work, and could even put you off driving in Europe after Brexit, the good news is that the Spanish government currently doesn’t require visitors to obtain an IDP to drive in the country. You will, however, be required to ensure your paperwork is in place before you get behind the wheel of a car in Spain. If you’re driving your own car you will need to have your V5c logbook with you: if you have leased a car in the UK and driven it to Spain then you will need a VE103 form to demonstrate that you are permitted to take the car you are driving out of the UK. You will also need a comprehensive insurance policy, and an MOT certificate to show that your vehicle is safe to be on the road.
In short, driving in the EU and in Spain is still the same easy task that it always was before Brexit. But it is important to ensure that you have done your research, and secured any paperwork that you need, well in advance of setting off on your journey, to ensure it runs smoothly and that you aren’t turned away at the border.
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