Fleet News

Fleets face 'red tape' with no-deal Brexit

Fleets and drivers may need international driving permits (IDPs) and insurance ‘green cards’ to drive or rent a vehicle in Europe if the Government fails to secure a deal on Brexit.

While UK driving licences are currently valid in the EU, a Department for Transport (DfT) paper has said an IDP may be required after March 29, 2019.

For insurance, UK drivers currently only need a passport and driving licence when crossing any borders within the green card-free circulation area – which covers the EU plus Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland – but there is no guarantee the exemption will continue past March. The ‘green card’ proves that a driver has the minimum insurance cover needed in the relevant country.

Pauline Bastidon, the head of European policy at the Freight Transport Association (FTA), said introducing IDPs would create “an array of red tape and paperwork” for businesses. The FTA is urging the Government to strike a deal with the EU to avoid creating delays and confusion for the logistics sector.

Bastidon said: “While it is encouraging to finally see some of the Government’s plans for a no-deal Brexit, which provide helpful clarifications in some areas, there are still key processes to be agreed if the UK logistics sector and ‘just-in-time’ economy is to be protected.

“Of real concern is that these IDP permits would not be available to purchase at every post office, (the DfT paper suggested 2,500 outlets, rather than the full network), and will not be on sale until February 1, 2019, leaving operators precious little time to undertake the necessary administration ahead of Brexit day itself.”

Ministers have confirmed that EU drivers will not require an IDP to drive in the UK after Brexit.

An IDP is a multi-language translation of a driving licence that is required or recommended in about 140 countries. To complicate matters further, there are two types of IDP required by EU countries. Each is governed by a different United Nations convention – the 1949 Geneva Convention and the 1968 Vienna Convention.

The 1949 convention IDP lasts for 12 months and is recognised in Ireland, Spain, Malta and Cyprus. For driving in all other European
countries (including Norway and Switzerland) after Brexit, a 1968 convention IDP is valid for three years, or for however long a driving licence is valid, if that date is earlier.

The UK ratified the 1968 convention on March 28, 2018, as a part of its EU exit preparations.

The cheapest way to obtain an IDP is at a Post Office – there is no online alternative. Drivers pay £5.50 an application and have to fill out a form,  supply their existing licence, proof of identity and a passport photo. It takes about five minutes and the documents are handed right back.

The start date of the IDP can be delayed by up to three months from application.

A spokesman for the Post Office told Fleet News it is working with the Government to deliver an enhanced service if and when required.

She said: “Part of this work is looking at how we could provide the service through thousands of additional locations in our branch network, to enhance accessibility for our customers if needed.”

The Post Office declined to comment when asked if an online IDP service would be available for drivers and businesses.

Insurance green cards are currently free, but insurance providers can decide to recoup production and handling costs by increasing their administration fees.

A spokesperson for The Motor Insurers’ Bureau, which is responsible for issuing green cards in the UK, said: “Preserving the current system post-Brexit should be achievable and encouraged given that there are already other non-EEA countries which are no longer ‘green card compulsory’.”

Drivers without a valid IDP may be turned away at the border or face other enforcement action, such as fines, which vary by country.

Fleet News asked daily rental companies how these potential changes would affect fleet customers and their business. Avis declined to comment, while Europcar said it would “apply the law applicable at the time”.

A spokesperson for Sixt said: “How these new rules will be structured in the case of a no-deal Brexit is not yet clear.

“Nevertheless, we cannot imagine that access to rental cars will be significantly more difficult for UK citizens in the EU – and vice versa.”

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