Northern drivers will need green card after Brexit

The Irish Department for Transport has confirmed that drivers from Northern Ireland and Great Britain will have to carry an insurance green card while driving across the border to the Republic of Ireland from January.  The new rule will apply after the end of the Brexit transition period.


A spokesperson said: “A green card is a document issued by your insurer that proves you have motor insurance cover when driving in another jurisdiction.  As it stands, following the transition period, a green card will be required for vehicles from the UK, including Northern Ireland, being driven in Ireland or other EU Member States, unless the European Commission declares otherwise.”

Rules on driving in the EU after transition

The department said however that it will not be an offence under Irish or EU law for Northern Ireland or GB registered vehicles to drive in Ireland without a GB sticker.


In July the British government released guidance on driving in Europe.  It said that an International Driving Permit (IDP) may be required in some countries from January 1  2021.  

But the Irish Department of Transport said there will be no requirement for those with a UK driving licence to hold an IDP when visiting Ireland after the transition period has ended. 

No green card needed for Irish drivers

The Association of British Insurers confirmed that Irish drivers crossing the border into Northern Ireland will not require a green card.  As things currently stand, however, NI drivers travelling the other way will.

Price concerns

Concerns have been raised that the green card system will be costly.

John Martin, policy manager at the Road Haulage Association in Northern Ireland said: “This is just another layer of bureaucracy if introduced, albeit feedback from some of the insurance sector says that insurance certificates already have this green card provision already included.

“If insurance companies begin to start charging operators for this, and if there is a limit on the duration of the green cards, then that adds to the burden hauliers are already facing as a consequence of Brexit.”


Martina Anderson
Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson has hit out at plans requiring northern drivers to carry an insurance ‘green card’ in the Republic. Photo: Hugh Russell.

Speaking to the Irish News, Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson, whose Foyle constituency is on the border, described the development as “disgraceful” and said people would be feeling angry.

“This has exposed the true folly of partition for citizens in the north, and it shows how Brexiteers didn’t care about the impact on people’s lives.

“In my constituency, for example, we will see a new hurdle for people in Derry who want to drive down the road to see their nearest and dearest in Buncrana, and fresh headaches and heartache for the hundreds of people right across the north who commute to the south,” she said.

“I can stand with one foot in Derry, and another in Donegal, yet drivers are being told to prepare for more paperwork to make a short journey. This is a disgraceful development.”


A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers said: “Unless the European Commission do the right thing and agree to the UK’s membership of the Free Circulation Zone post-Brexit, NI motorists will need to carry a valid green card if they are driving in the Republic or elsewhere in the EU after the transition period ends.”


Niall Ó Brolcháin
Niall Ó Brolcháin

is a journalist based in Derry in the North of Ireland. He is an Irish speaker with a BA (Hons) degree in Irish Language and Literature and a Master's degree in International Journalism: Hostile Environment Reporting. Passionate about local, national and international human, cultural, language and equality rights, he has extensive experience telling rich stories in words, photo and video both in Ireland and Palestine.


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