British drivers will no longer need to have a “green card” from their insurance company to visit Europe after the European Commission (EC) agreed to waive the requirement.
Under a post-Brexit agreement, people travelling from the UK into Europe by car had to obtain extra paperwork ahead of holidays and family visits to show that the car is fully insured. This included journeys to the Republic of Ireland.
The green card is an internationally recognised document demonstrating to law enforcement agencies that travellers have valid motor insurance. They typically last for up to 90 days.
The move, which applies throughout the European Union, forms part of a package of measures to diffuse tension over the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Before the pandemic, UK residents made an estimated 12.6 million visits a year to EU countries via seaports and the Channel tunnel.
The EC said on Thursday that the rule will come into effect 20 days after the ruling is published in the EU’s official journal. This is expected to take place over the next few days.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) hailed the decision as excellent news for drivers.
Huw Evans, ABI’s director general, told the Guardian that the EC had taken a “pragmatic approach on the matter”.
“UK drivers will no longer need to apply for a green card through their insurer which will help reduce bureaucracy for drivers and road hauliers travelling between the UK and EU,” he said. “It will be especially welcomed by motorists in Northern Ireland driving across the border.”
The Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) had also lobbied hard against the cards, pointing to the 43 million cross-border trips that took place each year on the island.
MIBI’s chief executive, David Fitzgerald, said it had been in regular talks with EU officials to highlight the problem caused by the cards.
“This wasn’t a sustainable situation when you consider there are an estimated 43 million cross border vehicle trips per annum and there are approximately 25,000 people who live on one side of the border and who regularly commute to the other jurisdiction.”
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