What is the Green Card system?
The Green Card System is a United Nations system overseen by the Economic Commission for Europe based in Geneva. The purpose of the system is to facilitate the free movement of vehicles over borders and to protect the interests of the victims of foreign registered vehicles.
The Green Card is a document which is recognized in over 40 countries including all the countries of Europe. A Green Card cannot be obtained for Iraq as this country is no longer a member of the Green Card System. The Green Card offers no insurance cover but is proof that the minimum legal requirements for third party liability insurance in any country for which the Green Card is valid are covered by the insured's own motor policy.
I have been told that a Green Card is not necessary for travel in Europe. Is this true?
It is correct that a Green Card is not required by law to cross borders within the European Union. This is because every EU country complies with the First Directive on Motor Insurance which says that every insurance policy issued in the EU must provide the minimum insurance cover required by law in any other EU country.
Green Cards are also not necessary for some non-EU countries who are signatory to Section III of the Internal Regulations, which is an international agreement between Green Card Bureaux. These countries are Iceland, Norway, Switzerland (incorporating Liechtenstein), Andorra and Serbia. Although a Green Card is not necessary for these non-EU countries our advice is to check the insurance position with your insurers before you travel. Our understanding is that a UK insurer is not legally obliged to provide cover for non-EU countries, although some may choose to do so.
A UK insurer is under no legal obligation to issue a green card for Section II countries and if your insurer refuses to do so it will be necessary to "shop around" to try to find the cover. Alternatively, enquiries should be made into the possibility of obtaining insurance at the border.
MIB does not underwrite or arrange insurance so we regret we cannot advise of any insurers who may be willing to provide Green Cards for these countries.
Please note that the Green Card document itself is only proof that the minimum third party liability cover required by law in the visited country is in force. You should check with your insurer to make sure that the full UK policy cover is in force when you travel abroad whether or not a Green Card is issued.
There is also a practical consideration beyond the strict legal position outlined above and that is, even within countries where frontier inspection is no longer required, the Green Card is still the insurance document most readily recognized and understood by national police forces. As you may need to produce evidence of insurance other than at a border (i.e. after an accident) you may consider it advisable to carry a Green Card to avoid inconvenience.
To find out if a Green Card is necessary or not please click on the link below.
Is a Green Card necessary?
Why am I asked to pay additional premium for my Green Card?
The additional premium is not for the green card document itself, but covers the cost of extending your full (non-compulsory) UK cover to the foreign countries you propose to visit. Some insurers will extend your UK policy for foreign travel for a limited period at no extra charge.
I have asked my insurance company for a Green Card but they declined, saying that it is not necessary for travel within the EU. How can I obtain one?
If for the reasons above, you wish to carry a Green Card, your insurer, whilst taking the view that the document may not be necessary, should still be prepared to provide a Green Card. Nonetheless, to avoid administrative costs and at the same time to deal with the problem of translating your motor insurance certificate, some insurers do print on the reverse of your UK insurance certificate a statement in the principal European languages, explaining that your certificate is evidence of the existence of the minimum cover required by law throughout the European Union.
Why is it necessary to extend my UK Insurance cover to visit an EU country?
As explained above, your UK insurance policy provides the MINIMUM cover required by law in every EU country, and in many EU countries the minimum cover required by UK law, if that is greater. This may not, however, provide the same cover as exists for the vehicle within the UK (e.g. you may have comprehensive cover) and for peace of mind most people regard it as desirable to make sure before traveling that such an extension is arranged. If you are in any doubt as to the cover under your policy, contact your insurer or agent to confirm the position.
Does my insurance policy cover my vehicle whilst on a ferry between two countries?
Not all insurers adopt the same policy conditions and it is advisable to check in advance. If the extension referred to in the previous question is arranged, cover whilst on a ferry or indeed in the Channel Tunnel will be provided.