Irish drivers, the Irish invisible border and the cost of Brexit

While the outcome of Brexit negotiations between the British Parliament and European Union is still to be determined, guidance issued by both the EU and UK governments suggests there could be significant changes ahead for Irish drivers if we end up with a no-deal Brexit.

What changes are expected?

The main change Irish drivers will see is the introduction of a Green Card, which will prove they have insurance and can travel between Northern and Southern Ireland without needing additional car insurance.

Responsibility for issuing Green Cards sits with the Motor Insurance Bureau, who allow insurance companies to issue cards on their behalf. There’s no cost for a Green Card, although insurance companies can charge a transaction fee.

Who is affected by the changes?

The need for a Green Card applies whether an Irish driver has personal insurance or is covered by insurance held on a company car. You can only get a Green Card if you are insured to travel outside of the UK.

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What are businesses doing?

Because travel between the North and South will be necessary whether there is an orderly Brexit or not, many Irish firms have responded to the potential risk of a no-deal Brexit by applying for a Green Card in advance of any final decision on the Brexit deal.

To date, more than one million applications for Green Cards have been issued to businesses by insurance providers, including those who issue motor trade insurance such as

When will the changes take effect?

If the British Parliament approves what is being described as the Meaningful Vote before 22nd April, 2019, the changes wouldn’t take effect until late 2020 at the earliest. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, they would take effect immediately.

What other changes should you be aware of?

In addition to a Green Card being needed, drivers might also need an international drivers license, which is available from the post office and costs £5.50. They should also be prepared for potential disruption on the roads, which could include custom checks and delays getting goods over the border. Companies should, therefore, build time into any transport schedules to make sure they are prepared for any disruption and leave extra time if travelling across the border for meetings.