British motorists could face new barriers when trying to drive on the continent post Brexit because UK licences will no longer be recognised by the EU, the European Commission has suggested.
If no arrangements are put in place, Britons could be banned from being automatically able to drive in Europe once the country’s departure from the EU is confirmed.
A contingency plan being put in place would instead see drivers having to buy a 12-month International Driving Permit that will need to be used alongside their UK licence when driving a car in Europe.
These are currently in operation around the world, but Britons do not need one for every country. However, the AA says it is recommended or required in around 140, including the USA.
The European Commission has said that Britain’s exit from the EU would mean the ‘end of mutual recognition of driving licences, vehicle registration documents and certificates of professional competence for drivers’
During a presentation last month, the European Commission said there would no longer be a mutual recognition of licences as a ‘consequence of the UK becoming a third country in the road transport sector’ and that ‘all current EU law-based rights, obligations and benefits [would] cease’.
Documents from the commission’s meeting said Britain’s exit from the EU would mean the ‘end of mutual recognition of driving licences, vehicle registration documents and certificates of professional competence for drivers’.
Not only could this stop drivers taking their own vehicles overseas, failure to reach an agreement could also see Britons blocked from hiring cars when on holiday without a special permit.
While UK licences would be deemed invalid in the EU, the statement suggests that from next year ministers could also introduce restrictions and additional charges for foreign drivers bringing their vehicles to the UK.
In response, the Department for Transport said it was confident of reaching an agreement for mutual licence recognition after Brexit because ‘such a deal is in the interests of both sides’.
However, if no such deal is put in place, the UK government will instead fall back on the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic – a treaty introduced to facilitate international road traffic that Britain has agreed to but has yet to ratify.
‘Ratifying the Vienna Convention will guarantee that UK driving licences will be acceptable throughout the EU when held with the relevant supporting International Driving Permit,’ a DfT spokesman said.
International Driving Permit FAQs
Q: Will I need to have an IDP if I’m only driving in the UK?
A: An IDP issued in the UK isn’t valid for use in the UK.
Q: How much does an IDP cost?
A: £5.50 and each one is valid for a year.
Q: Where can I get an IDP?
A: The Post Office or apply online with the AA or RAC.
Q: When can I apply for an IDP?
A: To apply for an IDP you must be 18 years or over, and have a valid UK driving licence.
Q: Can a learner apply for an IDP?
A: An IDP can’t be issued to a provisional licence holder
If you’ve just passed your test, you can apply using your test pass certificate (valid for two years) and provisional driving licence.
Q: How soon before I drive abroad do I need to arrange an IDP?
A: You can’t apply more than three months before you travel and can’t be backdated.
Britons could soon be forced to buy an International Driving Permit for £5.50 each time they want to drive in Europe. The permits are eligible for 12 months
The UK has already ratified the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic to ensure that Britons’ driving licenses are recognised in countries that are party to the same agreement.
This includes almost all EU Member States, except for Germany, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
If the UK ratifies and transposes the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic into national law, those missing Member States would also be covered.
The international driving permits – which are an official, multi-language translation of your driving licence – will need to be shown along with your licence if you’re stopped while at the wheel of a vehicle outside the UK.
Used as temporary proof of a driving qualification issued in another country, IDPs are currently recommended for around 140 nations worldwide.
Britons have needed to buy one of the permits when driving in the US, South America, Asia and Africa but currently not in Europe.
Failure to present one of these permits – which cost £5.50 and can be purchased from the Post Office or online via the AA and RAC – alongside your licence can lead to hefty fines and the confiscation of your car.
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