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Brexit uncertainty and the motor industry - an update on green card requirements

By Matthew Porter

Brexit took place on 31 January when the UK formerly left the European Union. The United Kingdom and the EU agreed to continue negotiations about their future relationship during an 11-month "transition".


From 2nd August 2021 a Green Card (International Motor Insurance Card) is no longer required for travel in the European Union (EU) (including Ireland). You must however have a valid Certificate of Motor Insurance which is accepted as having the minimum cover required by law in the EU country being visited.

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During this transition period, rules around travel to EU countries, working in them and the way companies do business remained the same. However, these arrangements end on 31 December, meaning there’s just a few weeks left before it is agreed what life after Brexit will look like. As a result, motorists will need to understand what this will mean for them, particularly if a deal is not agreed by the end of the year.

If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement in place, motorists will be required to carry a Green Card for international travel between the UK and the European Economic Area (EEA). Green Cards are international certificates of insurance issued by insurance providers, guaranteeing that the motorist has the necessary minimum motor insurance cover for driving in the country being travelled to.

Green Cards are not currently required for travel from the UK to other EEA countries, but a no deal scenario will mean the UK may no longer be a part of the European motor insurance “free circulation zone”.

One positive development is that the government has confirmed legislation to permit “black and white” green cards – that is, green cards printed on white paper – which was permitted by the CoB from July this year. It will be important to stress to policyholders that they must carry the green card as a hard-copy document; we hope that eventually green cards can be carried electronically and shown on smartphones, but that has not yet been agreed.

Who will be affected?

While the possible changes would affect all motorists travelling internationally, commercial operators will need to pay particular attention to the changes. The Green Cards will need to be applied for in advance and one Green Card will be needed for each vehicle registration, regardless of whether it is part of a fleet. Special attention will also need to be paid to the differences between countries’ rules; for example, trailers and vehicles are usually considered one unit within the UK, but in some EU member states there is a need to specifically state the trailer coverage with an identification number.

Travel between Ireland and Northern Ireland is a particular concern, with a significantly higher number of commercial vehicles regularly crossing the border each day when compared with the UK and Continental Europe. Not having a Green Card means you would not have proof of insurance and would be in breach of the law. There is also the likelihood that documentation such as Green Cards will be rigorously checked at border check points.


What now?

The outcome of Brexit is still undecided, and therefore it remains to be seen whether these new requirements will be put into place. However, we recommend our automotive customers be prepared to comply with new requirements. Given these uncertainties, we will support you our brokers and policyholders to meet any additional requirements.

QBE has taken the necessary steps to be in a position to provide green cards for your policyholders that will require a green card in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and these are now available and ready to be issued.

After consultation with many of our brokers we now have the following options available for you to:

  • Self-issue – We are happy to provide you with the ability to self-issue Green Cards to your clients. Please email  for a mandate form which outlines the requirements.
  • QBE issues the Green Card – If you don’t want to take up the self-issue option, we will issue the Green Cards for your clients. To ensure we issue correctly we will only issue from here. Please complete and email Your request will be processed within 5 days of receipt and sent out to you or your client as a PDF via email. We recommend requesting your Green Card up to 4 weeks before travel.

While the outcome of Brexit is still unclear, we are prepared to support your needs regardless of the outcome. We will continue to update you and our policyholders of any new developments around requirements following Brexit.

Your contact

Your contact

John Porter

John Porter

Head of Operations - UK