Planning a holiday to Europe in your caravan, trailer tent or fifth wheeler?
We bring you some updates, if you’re planning, or already, towing your touring caravan, trailer tent or fifth wheeler outside of the UK to a European country (including Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Serbia, Andorra or Liechtenstein).
(Updated November 5th, 2019)
If you’re not planning on towing in the EU, there’s nothing you need to do.
Planning a holiday to Europe in your caravan, trailer tent or fifth wheeler?
Whilst there’s still some uncertainty about whether we will be leaving the European Union with or without a deal on January 31st, we know that many of our touring caravan, trailer tent and fifth wheeler customers will be planning European trips, or might already be in Europe.
We’ve updated our information, to help you prepare to travel to the EU before January 31st.To make sure you can tow in the EU as normal, it’s important to consider if you’ll need a Green Card and/or an International Driving Permit (IDP).
In some very limited circumstances, you might also need to register your caravan or fifth wheeler.
Other issues affecting UK travellers to the EU are:
Check if your passport is valid for travel after Brexit.
Healthcare and travel insurance
Check that you have adequate health cover on your travel insurance.
Arrange pet travel with your vet at least four months in advance of travel.
If Brexit is delayed, cancelled or there is no-deal
If Brexit is delayed or cancelled you should be able to tow within the EU as normal, without any extra documentation.
What happens if the United Kingdom leaves the EU with a withdrawal agreement?
It’s also likely that you can tow within the EU as you would normally, without the extra documentation mentioned above. However, until this is confirmed by the Government, we would still recommend requesting a Green Card for your tow car and caravan and an International Driving Permit (and where applicable register your caravan or fifth wheeler) as a precaution.
What happens if the United Kingdom leaves the EU without a withdrawal agreement?
You will legally need to carry a Green Card when towing in the EU. This also applies to travel across the Northern Ireland / Republic of Ireland border.
Caravans need to have a separate Green Card to the towing vehicle, so if you’re towing a caravan you’ll need to contact your tow car insurer to ask for two separate Green Cards – one for the tow car and one for the caravan.
You’ll also legally need to carry an International Driving Permit if you hold a UK licence. However, you should not need an IDP to travel across the Northern Ireland / Republic of Ireland border.
What do I need to do now?
Dependant on the above outcomes, you might need to carry new documentation. We urge you to consider each in turn:
1. Green Cards
Will you be towing your tourer, trailer tent or fifth wheel caravan in the EU?
If you need to request a Green Card, you should contact your tow vehicle insurance provider as a precaution – NOT your caravan insurance provider. We suggest you do this in good time before your holiday to make sure you get your Green Card on time.
Remember, caravans need to have a separate Green Card to the towing vehicle, so you’ll need to ask your tow car insurer for two separate Green Cards – one for the tow car and one for the caravan.
If you’re already in Europe, your tow vehicle insurance provider will likely have provisions set up to provide Green Cards for your tow car and caravan. Please contact them to discuss.
2. Driving licences
International Driving Permit (IDP)
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, you’ll likely need an International Driving Permit (IDP) as well as your UK licence. The IDP is a multi-language translation of your driving licence and currently costs £5.50. These can be bought from a Post Office.
There are three different types of IDPs, depending on the EU country you are driving in. You might need more than one if travelling through several countries. You can find up-to-date information on the Government’s website.
If you hold a UK licence, you should not need an IDP to travel across the Northern Ireland / Republic of Ireland border, just your licence.
3. Trailer registration
The Government has advised that in some scenarios non-commercial trailers, including caravans, weighing over 3,500kg, must be registered before they can travel to, or through, most European countries. This does not apply to travel across the Northern Ireland / Republic of Ireland border.
You can find the weights of your caravan on the information plate or sticker, which is usually found close to the door; on the side of your caravan; in the front locker; or in the door well. These figures will be the MRO or Mass in Running Order, which is the weight of the caravan when it left the factory. The MTPLM figure is the maximum legal weight of your caravan, fully loaded with equipment and possessions.
Travelling to Europe with your caravan, trailer tent or fifth wheeler?
Fifth wheeler caravans
Fifth Wheel caravans vary in size, and some will be over 3,500kg, so we strongly urge you to check (you can contact the supplier or manufacturer if you’re unsure or cannot find the weight). If you do need to register, it’s a relatively simple process which you can do online here. This currently costs £26, and you’ll need the VIN / chassis number.
As it is a developing situation, we’ll update this blog post as and when the Brexit negotiations move forward, or you can keep an eye on the Government website updates
More information about towing in Europe
What is a Green Card?
A Green Card is issued by your tow car insurance company and is a standardised document which is recognised at borders. It demonstrates that you have the necessary minimum motor insurance cover in place to be on that country’s roads. This also applies to travel across the Northern Ireland / Republic of Ireland border.
Some European countries might also need a separate Green Card as proof of third-party liability insurance for your caravan, so you’ll need two Green Cards: one for your tow vehicle, and one for the caravan. Both of which are provided by the tow vehicle or car insurer.
Drivers have to physically carry the Green Card with them when driving in Europe.
A Green Card can include all the countries you are travelling to, so it can generally cover more than one trip.
Obtaining a Green Card is precautionary at this point. However, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, it will be mandatory to have a Green Card when travelling in the EU. Green Cards can take up to 14 days so please plan your journey accordingly.
Insurance validity in the EU
If you’re a UK motorist, with a UK registered vehicle, you’ll generally continue to hold the same cover as you do now, it’s essential that you check this with your tow vehicle insurer for peace of mind.
Our tourer, trailer tent and fifth wheel caravan insurance cover remain unaffected.
Do I need a European Accident Statement form?
This is a standardised carbonated document making it easier for drivers involved in an accident to exchange details and the facts of any incident. They are not compulsory, so you do not need to have one in your car.
What documentation should I have when driving in Europe?
When entering the EU you might be asked for documentation. The decision of what is needed will be for the individual border authorities. It’s also possible that you might be subject to police checks, or you might need to present documentation at the scene if you’re involved in an accident.
As we don’t yet know the enforcement requirements applicable in a post-EU world, you might want to consider having the following up-to-date documents to hand when driving in Europe or the EEA. Your tow vehicle insurer might have specific advice about your policy.
Having the following documents might be precautionary, but could offer reassurance that your travel plans will go ahead as anticipated.
- A copy of your insurance documentation (including your certificate of insurance)
- Vehicle registration document (V5C) – the government recommends you carry this.
- Green Card/s
- Driving Licence/s
- International Driving Permit/s as applicable
- European Accident Statement Form
- Caravan registration plate and certificate, if applicable
For more information
The Government has guidance about preparing to drive in the EU after Brexit. In the event of a no deal Brexit there will be changes affecting:
When the UK leaves the European Union, there will be new rules for UK passport holders travelling to most European countries.
Check your passport is valid for travel to Europe using the GOV.UK passport checker. If you’re travelling to Europe after Brexit, you might need to renew your passport earlier than planned.
You can check the validity of your passport and find out more by visiting: gov.uk/brexit-check-passport
- Travelling to Europe with pets
To make sure you can travel with your pet after Brexit, you should start to prepare at least four months before your travel date by visiting your vet for advice.
If there is a no-deal Brexit, current EU pet passports issued in the UK will not be valid for entry to the EU.
Pet owners need to complete the following steps before travel:
– Get your pet microchipped
– Make sure your pet’s rabies vaccination is up to date
– Allow at least 30 days after your pet’s last rabies vaccination before returning to a vet for a blood test to check it’s worked
– Wait three calendar months after a successful blood test before travel
– Return to a vet within 10 days of travel for an animal health certificate
If your pet’s vaccinations are kept up to date you won’t need to repeat the blood test for each journey. To prepare for changes visit gov.uk/brexit-pet-travel
- European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
If we leave the EU without a deal the EHIC will no longer be applicable and you will need to make sure you have adequate health cover on your travel insurance.
For more information and to register for updates visit the Government’s Prepare for Brexit website.