Brexit could mean permits are required for driving in Europe

What 'No Deal' Brexit means for UK Motorists

British motorists who want to drive in the EU after Brexit will no longer be able to do so simply with a valid UK driving licence. The government has revealed that, in the event of a No Deal departure from the EU next March, a permit may also be needed for legal travel in European countries.

Post-Brexit, your driving licence will still be usable in the EU, but you will also have to purchase an international driving permit (IDP) from your local post office too. These are already a requirement in many international countries including the US, Canada and Australia, and cost just £5.50 to obtain.

How does an international driving permit work?

There are two different types of international driving permits used in the EU, and which one you need depends on the country or countries you are driving in. The permits are named after the respective UN conventions which govern them. The first type is governed by the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic. It is recognised in the Republic of Ireland, Spain, Malta and Cyprus and is valid for a year.

The second type is governed by the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. It is valid in all other EU countries, plus Norway and Switzerland, and is valid for three years. If therefore, you are going to be driving in both France and Spain, for example, you will need to get a separate permit for each country and carry them with your driving licence during your trip.

Brexit backlog

What could conceivably be a problem is the expected number of applications. The National Audit Office said earlier this year that up to seven million people might apply for international driving permits in the first year after Brexit. AA president Edmund King said the organisation envisaged “quite a rush on post offices next year for the IDPs if no deal is reached.”

Testing times

Until March 29, if you move to another EU country and want to make sure you can drive there after Brexit, you can change your UK driving licence into one for that country without resitting your driving test. You’ll be able to change it back into a UK licence again if you return to the UK. It is possible, however, that after Brexit British people who move to an EU country may have to retake their test in that country to gain their licence there.

What about EU licence holders in the UK?

The government says they will be unaffected, adding: “Visitors with driving licences from EU countries will enjoy the same arrangements as today. For EU licence holders who passed their test in the EU or EEA, the UK would continue to exchange their licences as we do currently.”

Getting your van ready to go

It’s possible that this won’t be the case and a valid UK licence will continue to be sufficient, but should you be planning a trip abroad it’s advisable to familiarise yourself with the rules of the road, driving laws and emergency procedures in the country you’re going to.

As van traders based inHarlow, we at Vanwise Group can advise on the nuances of driving abroad, as well as offer a wide range of used commercial vehiclesfor you to view and test drive. Visit your local dealership today to find out more