UK Driving Licences Invalid in EU Threat

With the final hours of Brexit looming ever closer, thoughts are turning to the effects on everyday Brits.  One of these is the use of a British driving licence on the roads of Europe.

In February, the European Commission stated, “as a consequence of the UK becoming a second country in the road transport sector”, UK driving licences would no longer be recognised when driving on the continent.

Failure to reach an agreement on this matter could effect the British driving population, two-fold; not only will the British public be restricted from using their own vehicles on the continent but also leave them excluded from the holiday rental market too.

The Department for Transport have suggested that it is more than likely an agreement will be made, as the restrictions faced by British people wishing to drive in Europe will be reciprocated to Europeans hoping to drive within the UK. We sincerely hope that common sense will prevail but who knows?


What are the Options

In the event an agreement isn’t reached, a backup plan suggested by the Department for Transport would see drivers purchasing a 12 month International Driving Permit (IDP). The IDP is an official, multi-language translation of a driving licence.  It is used alongside a valid UK driving licence in the event of being stopped behind the wheel of a vehicle in another country.  They are used as temporary evidence of a valid driving qualification issued in a country separate from that where it is being used.

The use of the IDP in Europe will be achieved through the ratification of the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic; the UK is also a ratified member of the 1949 Geneva Convention for Road Traffic, which ensures British driving licences are valid (when accompanied by an IDP) in all countries that are also members of this agreement.  With the exception of several European countries, including Germany, Croatia, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, all EU member states are covered by this agreement.  However, ratification of the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic would complete European coverage.

IDP’s are available from the Post Office online.  The 12 month permit costs £5.50, a comparatively small price to pay considering failure to present the IDP can result in hefty fines and/or confiscation of your vehicle.

In summary, the main points to remember if no agreement is reached post Brexit are:

  • IDP’s will be required when driving from the UK into Europe.
  • IDP’s cost £5.50 and are valid for one year.
  • Available online from the Post Office.
  • Must be over 18 and have a valid full UK driving licence.
  • Newly qualified drivers can use test pass certificate and provisional licence for up to 2 years after passing their test.
  • An IDP must be purchased prior to driving abroad; these can be applied no more than 3 months before intended use.

We all suspect that Brussels is trying to make the UK’s attempt at Brexit as difficult as possible but surely even they wouldn’t be daft enough to try and enforce this? It would result in utter chaos.

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