The Green Card System is designed to fulfil two principal objectives:
1. To facilitate the movement of vehicles across international borders by the use of an internationally acceptable document proving the existence of insurance (the Green Card or International Insurance Card).
2. To ensure that victims of accidents involving foreign registered vehicles are not disadvantaged.
The Green Card is an international certificate of insurance providing visiting motorists the minimum compulsory insurance cover required by the law of the country visited. A green card is not compulsory for all countries in the Green Card System.
Responsibility for issuing Green Cards is given to national organisations (in the UK that is MIB). Many national organisations, including the MIB, allow insurers to print and issue their own cards in the interests of efficiency.
No charge is made for a Green Card. However, if cover is increased at the same time the Green Card is issued, an insurer is entitled to make a charge for the extension of cover. Intermediaries are also entitled to charge for obtaining Green Cards for their clients.
Where the Green Card System operates and where it is needed
The Green Card system currently comprises 47 countries, including all 28 in the European Union, the additional countries that make up the European Economic Area (EEA), Switzerland, Russia and several countries in the Middle East and others bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Full details of the scope of the Green Card system can be found on the Council of Bureaux website, which includes an interactive map of the countries in the system.
The functions of national Green Card Bureaux
A National Insurers' Bureau (Green Card Bureau) guarantees that a victim of a road traffic accident caused by a foreign vehicle, originating from a country participating in the Green Card system, will be compensated in the country of accident. The National Insurers’ Bureau of the country of accident can then recover all the compensation paid from the Bureau of the country from where responsible vehicle originates under international agreements.
Each Green Card Bureau has two functions:
- As a "Bureau of the country of the accident" or “Handling Bureau”, it has responsibility, in line with national laws governing compulsory motor insurance, for the handling and settlement of claims arising from accidents caused by visiting motorists.
- As a "Guaranteeing Bureau" it guarantees certificates of motor insurance - ("Green Cards") which are issued by its member insurance companies to their policyholders.