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Driving holidays in Europe - Plan your self-drive motoring holiday

Green card insurance for driving in Europe: do you need a green card and what is a green card?

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Do you need a green card when you take your car out of the UK to Europe? The answer is strictly no, as long as you are driving in or through any of the countries in the European Union plus several others; Croatia, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland (incorporating Liechtenstein), Andorra and Serbia.

Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Rep., Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithunia, Luxembourg, Yes, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.

But things are never quite so simple. The green card is not in itself insurance cover. It is a document recognised in all the participating countries as proof that your vehicle has been insured to the minimum necessary to meet the legal requirements of those countries. This requirement is often simply third party insurance, covering you against a claim for damage you cause to another vehicle.

Even if you have fully comprehensive cover in  the UK you need to check that this level of cover extends to Europe. Many insurers will only offer third party cover in Europe, no matter what your cover in the UK. Many insurers will extend cover to fully comprehensive for Europe, but only if requested and only for an extra premium. They will also usually impose a time limit per trip and per total number of days abroad in any one year.

Some insurers will not cover you for driving in Europe at all, or will only offer the third party minimum. So if driving in Europe is something you think you might want to do, it's worth checking the position when renewing your car insurance.

And even those insurers which do offer European cover will not always provide you with a green card, and if they do there is often a fee to pay, so again, check when buying.

As stated above, you don't really need a green card as long as you take your certificate of insurance with you as proof of cover, but the benefit of a green card is that it is recognised everywhere, whereas your insurance certificate might only be in English and this could cause problems with some police forces. Some insurers print a multilingual summary explaining the cover on the reverse of the certificate, which should be sufficient in most countries.

If you want to take your car to somewhere outside the area covered by the green card agreement then it is entirely up to individual insurers as to whether they will offer cover. Most do not and if they do it will always cost. Bear in mind that cover can be bought at borders and this can be cheaper than buying from your own insurer.

Finally, remember that your car insurance will not cover you for breakdowns (unless as an add-on when you bought the policy). Even if you have breakdown insurance make sure to check it will cover you for driving in Europe. If not, we recommend Breakdown Direct for competitive premiums and an excellent level of cover and service.   breakdown cover from breakdown direct


All information on this page is provided as a service to our clients. It is intended as a guide to the more important rules for the different countries to which we offer driving holidays. It is not meant to be a comprehensive document. We try and keep the information on this page up-to-date, but we cannot be held responsible in any way for any consequences arising from any inaccuracies. If you find a mistake or would like to send us some additional information, please email us. Your co-operation is appreciated.