UK driving licences may be invalid in Europe from 28 March 2019 if a hard Brexit occurs, the Government has warned.
In a technical note released by the Department for Transport, officials say a no-deal Brexit will mean “Your driving licence may no longer be valid by itself when driving in the EU.”
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The DfT also warns: “If you move to another EU country to live, you may not be able to exchange your licence after the UK has left the EU.”
While the document considers a no-deal Brexit “remains unlikely given the mutual interests of the UK and the EU in securing a negotiated outcome”, it advises drivers that should this scenario arise, they will have to purchase an International Driving Permit (IDP). IDPs are currently sold at just 90 Post Office or by two private companies. They are valid for 12 months and cost £5.50.
From 1 February 2019, the number of Post Offices selling IDPs will increase to 2,500, and the two mail order companies will cease to sell them.
Further complications arise given there are two types of IDP. One is governed by the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, while the other is covered by the 1968 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic. 1968 IDPs won’t be sold until 1 February, and will be post-dated to start on 28 March. This is because the UK ratified the 1968 convention to start on 28 March 2019, in preparation for the UK leaving the EU.
Before this date, 1949 IDPs can be used. After 28 March 2019, 1949 IDPs will only be valid in Cyprus, Ireland, Malta and Spain, and 1968 IDPs must be purchased for travelling in any other EU country.
The DfT says the “version of the IDP you would require depends on which EU country you are visiting”, and that drivers “may be turned away at the border or face other enforcement action, for example fines, if you don’t have the correct IDP.”
Commenting on the DfT’s recommendations, Edmund King, president of the AA said: “The government has confirmed that if there is ‘no deal’ then UK drivers wishing to drive in Europe will need to get an International Driving Permit”.
“This will be an extra burden for UK drivers wanting to take a holiday abroad. We are also disappointed that from the end of January next year the AA will no longer be permitted to issue IDPs as we have done for decades.
“A National Audit Office report in July reported that post offices may be issuing anywhere between 100,000 and 7 million IDPs in the first year should no deal be agreed with the EU.
“We envisage quite a rush on post offices next year for the £5.50 IDPs if no deal is reached. Hopefully an agreement can be reached to prevent further red tape and expense for drivers.”
The European Commission previously highlighted the UK’s departure from the European Union could see an end to the “mutual recognition” of UK driving licences.
Slides from an EU Commission meeting, while flagged as being “for presentational and information processes only”, considered that “all current EU law-based rights, obligations and benefits cease” if the UK becomes a non-EU nation.
That loss of rights would see an end to the “mutual recognition” of “driving licences, vehicle registration documents and certificates of professional competence” for UK drivers in EU countries.
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