Brexit and driving: How Could it Affect Us?

Brexit and Driving: How Could it Affect Us?

On March 29, 2019 the departure from the United Kingdom of the European Union will be effective. And if both parties do not reach an agreement, the Brexit could lead to new driving requirements for European and British citizens.

Brexit in the insurance sector (Pixabay)

After the unsatisfactory summit in Salzburg last September, in which the representatives of the European Union (EU) rejected the proposals of the British Government, at the time of drafting these lines, Brussels and London worked hard to reach an agreement on the United Kingdom exit from the EU. Some negotiations that should come to fruition, next November, with the support of the parliaments of both parties.

But if by then the agreement has not been produced, the relationship will deteriorate and experts say that this situation would cause very high costs on the two banks of the English Channel. For analysts, the ideal would be to materialize a smooth Brexit that caused the least possible political, social and economic problems.

That is why it is so important that at this stage of the negotiations both the process of separation of the United Kingdom from the EU and the coexistence that will exist between the latter and a third country be discussed – which is what the United Kingdom will become once , on March 29, 2019, culminate the Brexit roadmap. In the case of coexistence, if a satisfactory agreement is not reached, such trivial matters as driving in both territories could be complicated.

If there is no agreement, how would the Brexit affect Europeans in terms of driving?

And to alert about it has been commissioned by the British Department of Transport through a statement . According to the latter, for EU citizens living in the UK, or decide to travel to it, the good news is that, for now, the current situation is not expected to change. That is to say, once the Brexit materialized, the British authorities do not contemplate demanding from the Europeans that, in addition to their driver’s license, they must present the international driving license to circulate in their territory.

According to what has been published, EU license holders will be able to drive in the UK with their European card until it expires, until the holder reaches the age of 70 or up to three years after they have come to live in the country. Thus, with this announcement the British Government reassures those who, after what was broadcast by some community media, thought that their European driving license would not be valid in the United Kingdom after the consummation of Brexit.

Would a Brexit without an agreement hurt the British?

On the contrary, the scenario that is presented for British drivers, including Gibraltarians, if the EU and the United Kingdom do not reach an understanding is quite different. In this regard, in London they do not seem to be very optimistic about the permissiveness of Brussels and the Department of Transport warns about the need to be prepared before all kinds of eventualities. Among them, the possibility that, as of March 29, 2019, the driving licenses issued on British soil will not be accepted in the member countries of the EU.

So what should holders of a British driver’s license do? According to the Department of Transportation, these are the assumptions that should be considered:

  • First of all, British drivers would have to obtain an international driving license.
  • In the case of the international driving license governed by the 1949 Geneva Convention on road traffic, it is valid for 12 months and after 29 March 2019 it would be admitted to Ireland, Spain, Malta and Cyprus.
  • For its part, the international driving license governed by the 1968 Vienna Convention on road traffic is valid for three years and as of March 29, 2019 it would be valid in the rest of the EU countries, as well as in Norway and Switzerland.
  • In practice, that would mean that a Briton traveling by road in his vehicle from the United Kingdom to Spain would have to have three licenses: his British driver’s license, an international driving license that conformed to the Vienna Convention of 1968 to go through France and an international driving license that is governed by the Geneva Convention of 1949 to be able to circulate in our country.
  • If it is finally necessary that British drivers must have an international driving license, the Department of Transport remembers that it will cost 5.50 British pounds (slightly more than 6 euros at the exchange rate).

Undoubtedly, such a situation would be a setback for British citizens, who would have to “scratch” their pocket, in some cases twice over, to obtain a permit that would make it easier for them to legally drive in the member countries of the EU. And to that disbursement of millions of pounds of private drivers would have to add the relative to professional carriers. In this sense, from the newspaper “Express” remember that the measure could affect 11,600 truckers.

How to obtain the international permit in Spain?

In the communication of the Department of Transport, the British Government hopes to reach a global agreement with the EU so that there is a mutual recognition of driving licenses in both territories. And if it is not achieved, it advances that it will try to sign bilateral agreements with some member countries.

Therefore, the United Kingdom will not obstruct driving licenses issued in the EU and its will is negotiating. But if the talks with the EU are cooled and the latter decides not to accept the British driving license, it would not be surprising if in London they opt for a similar decision. In this case, we Europeans would be obliged to apply for an international driving license.

In Spain, from the Directorate General of Traffic (DGT) remember that it is valid for one year and that to obtain it is necessary to hold a driving license that is valid. Its price is 10.30 euros and its obtaining requires the following documentation:

  • Official form (available in Spanish, Basque, Catalan, Valencian and Galician).
  • ID card, passport or original residence card in force.
  • Photograph updated in color with measures of 32 x 26 mm.

Vehicle insurance in countries outside the European Union

We will have to be very attentive, then, to the outcome of the negotiations between the EU and the United Kingdom to know how it will affect us when we move from one territory to another and know if it will be necessary, or not, to obtain an international driving license. And, in addition, if the final agreement between both parties will mean a significant change in the civil liability coverage of the vehicle insurance.

If there are no variations, a compulsory insurance contracted in Spain would continue to be valid in the United Kingdom. But if not, the latter would be equated to countries like Albania, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Israel, Macedonia, Morocco, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine, adhering to the so-called Green card.

The Green Card certifies that the vehicle is insured in the country of origin and facilitates its transit across international borders. And if it is going to circulate in any of the mentioned countries, it is necessary to request it from the insurance company before starting the trip. Otherwise, we will expose ourselves to being denied entry into a country and possible sanctions.

In short, the outcome of the talks that will take place in the coming days and weeks will depend on the fact that leaving the UK from the EU has more or less traumatic and annoying consequences for citizens. Issues such as those related to the driving license or the insurance of the vehicle had not given headaches to date. And it is to be hoped that after March 29, 2019, although the relationship between both parties is no longer the same, some of the rules of coexistence that we have enjoyed to date will not be altered.