No-deal Brexit might invalidate UK driving licenses on EU roads
British driving licences will no longer be legal as a standalone document on EU roads in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to the Department for Transport
British driving license holders may not be unable to drive on European Union, Norwegian and Swiss roads without a separate International Driving Permit (IDP) in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to the Department for Transport (DfT).
According to guidance issued by the DfT today, a UK driving licence ‘may no longer be valid by itself when driving in the EU,’ potentially adding more paperwork to driving in member states of the European Union, whether in your own car or a hire vehicle.
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Though IDPs are already required in Japan and certain states in the United States of America, it’s not an easy process.
Two different types of IDP would be required, depending on which EU country is being visited. One, which adheres to the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic is applicable in Ireland, Spain, Malta and Cyprus, while a different IDP following the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic is required in the remaining EU nations, plus in Norway and Switzerland. Both are required if visiting countries covered by differing conventions, for example France and Spain.
Harder still is accessibility to these IDPs. At £5.50 they’re far from expensive, but the IDP application process is still somewhat outdated. At present less than 100 Post Offices carry IDP application forms, so those not blessed with a conveniently located and equipped branch must apply via mail order with the AA or RAC.
Come February 1 2019, the number of Post Office branches able to process IDPs will increase to 2500, though the DfT won’t announce which until ‘early 2019’. Worse still, the AA and RAC mail order options will cease on January 31 2019, while no mention is made of any other potential access to IDPs in future.
Preparing for the worst possible outcome, the DfT stated they were hoping to put contingency plans in place to avoid IDPs being required in all of the 29 affected countries.
‘In the event that we do not achieve a comprehensive agreement, we will also pursue agreements with individual EU countries,’ read the DfT’s statement.
‘The UK already has a number of these arrangements with non-EU countries including Australia, Canada and New Zealand. EU countries have their own similar arrangements with third countries.’
‘However, we cannot guarantee that we will have individual agreements with all EU states by exit day in the event of no deal.
A no-deal Brexit will also bring an end to licence exchanges when moving to another EU country. At present, UK citizens who move to an EU country can swap their licence freely, an option which will be removed on 29 March 2019 without a Brexit deal. However, the DfT has stated that those who swap their licences before 29 March 2019 ‘will be able to re-exchange for a UK licence if they return to live in the UK’.
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