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Brexit Rules for Driving and Racing in Europe – Updated

Not all of us really wanted to leave the EU, but here we are in January 2021, officially divorced from our European neighbours. So what does this mean for our future automotive adventures abroad?  We did some digging through the new rules, and this is what we found:

Driving to Europe from January 1st 2021 – Updated September 2021 

Firstly, before you even load your car to travel to Europe mean you must have at least 6 months on your passport and the passport must be less than 10 years old.

Driving in Europe

The European Commission has scrapped the obligation for UK drivers to show a Green Card when entering the European Union (EU) with effect from 2 August 2021.

This means that, from 2 August 2021, you will not need a green card if you are travelling in the following countries/areas:

  • The EU (including Ireland)
  • Andorra
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • Iceland
  • Lichtenstein
  • Norway
  • Serbia
  • Switzerland

If you plan to drive anywhere else in Europe, you will still need a green card.
Separate Green Cards are required for cars, motorhomes and anything towed by a motorised vehicle, including caravans, car trailers or other trailers. A Green Card for a car or motorhome needs to have Category A (‘Car’) ticked; a Green Card for a caravan, trailer or trailer tent/folding camper needs to have Category F (‘Trailer’) ticked.

From 28th September 2021, the distinguishing mark (or national identifier) displayed on vehicles registered in the United Kingdom that are driven abroad will change from GB to UK.

In some countries you will need an IDP (International Driving Permit) but not in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein. There are 3 different types of IDP, the country you are visiting will determine which one you need, and you can pick up an IDP in person at main UK Post Offices. It costs £5.50. Morocco, Monaco and Mexico all require IDPs, there is a list of countries and their respective IDPs here otherwise it is best to check with the embassy of the country you are heading to.  

Towing a trailer 

Firstly if you are just driving on holiday or attending a race meeting in your own car, with a small bag of tools, you just need your V5 document, your driving licence and the green card.

If you are also transporting a quantity of spare tyres / wheels/ replacement body parts/ and other car spares you WILL also need to complete a temporary admission form: CLICK HERE –  it could potentially involve having to pay a customs clearance agent to complete and the possible need to lodge a deposit wit customs.  Ideally contact the relevant embassy in London to see what their temporary import procedure is.

If you are towing your own trailer you also need a Green card for the trailer and if it is plated as under 3500 kg you WONT need to register it. However it must be insured and you must get a Green card to prove this.

If your personal trailer is plated to carry 3500 kgs or you are transporting cars for others commercially you WILL need to register your trailer to drive into Europe. It costs just £26 and all our closest neighbours (France, Belgium and the Netherlands) are all on the list. You will also need to ensure your tow vehicle is plated to tow 3500 kgs to avoid any penalties.

The Rules can change if you are travelling to work abroad so If you are unsure the gov has a handy Brexit checker questionnaire 

Trailer Registration can be found here 

Towing your race car to Europe

If you are towing your own race car to Europe, you need:

  • Your driving licence
  • GB Sticker
  • V5 document of your tow vehicle
  • Green card for the tow vehicle
  • Your passport
  • The V5 registration of the race car (on the trailer)
  • Green Card for the race car
  • Trailer registration (if needed – see above) – and green card for the trailer

As per the guidance we have received via GBCC and their governing body: – If your race car is road registered and going to Europe for racing purposes then as long as it has insurance and a V5 it DOESN’T need a temporary movement certificate. (ie ata carnet) – BUT this has yet to be tested!

If your car is NOT road registered and you don’t have a V5, or it is being transported by someone else – like your team – you WILL need an ATA Carnet or temporary export note. (See Below) – But once you have purchased your Carnet it will last 12 months.

If you are UK race or rally licence holder you can access a special arrangement Motorsport UK has secured with the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) for Motorsport UK members of a fixed price processing/arrangement fee of £240+VAT  PLUS an additional payment which is the Premium. The premium can either be a refundable deposit of 40% of the vehicle’s insured value or a non-refundable insurance premium to cover the 40% proportion of the premium.

Temporary ATA CARNET can be acquired here   If you have left the paperwork to the last minute, there is also a fast track service for a premium of £35 + VAT.

Getting your car transported by a commercial operator or team:

If you place your road/ race car in the hands of a commercial operator it becomes ‘Goods’ and regardless of having a V5 & Insurance it will still need a Green card inside the car, and a Carnet to include all spares.

We spoke to Peter Bonham-Christie at Straight Eight Logistics he told us:

“We will be offering customers a hassle free service, with a fee for transportation and a fee for the ATA Carnet, we have a direct link with the Carnet office and we can print them out on-site.”

“The information required from customers, will be: Make, model, registration number, chassis no, colour, plus a list of any spares and their weight. If any of the paperwork is incorrect for a vehicle we are carrying it will stop the whole shipment, so it must be accurate and it won’t be possible to do last minute car changes, as the ATA Carnets will be booked and paid for in advance.”

Peter also told us they predict issues where parts and lubricants may be used on a race event, and return shipments are going to differ from the out-going paperwork, all these details may hinder returns to the UK. They believe a simpler system is going to be needed going forward, no-doubt it will change as the year unfolds. (Let’s hope!)

The UK government is currently offering a 12 month grace period of any car already in Europe which needs to return to the UK, can do so with simplified import paperwork. This has been already tested with varying results of success!

If anyone has tested the new system – please could they report back to me at sarah@autoaddicts.co.uk.  So that others can learn and we can fast-track others also planning to race in Europe. We will continue to update this page and report back to our sources of information –  Thank you

Since writing this feature on 13 January. We have received a number of additional questions:

  1. What about the car spares and tools we take away racing?  – We went back to GBCC to ask this and have found out that if you are carrying an amount of spares and tools (more than the average person has in the boot of their car) then you will need to apply for a temporary pass to take these goods out of the country. We have added this procedure to the instructions above.
  2. What about racers coming from Europe into the UK to race with their cars? – Same rules should apply. If the EU allow UK registered vehicles on the road or to be towed then our treatment would be reciprocal. If they’re coming to compete with non-road registered vehicles then they will have to follow temporary import procedures(ie a carnet) and if they are bringing in an abundanceof spares, parts, tools etc then that will not be covered and will need to follow temporary import procedures.
  3. Is it likely to be changed or get better as the year goes on? – Not anytime soon, any changes to procedure such as exemptions for Motorsport licence holders to move freely around Europe, would require MUK members to lobby their MP /foreign office /department for transport and require the UK and EU to return to the negotiating table to discuss and arrange. Sadly, Motorsport is likely to be a long way down the list of terms which require urgent review.
  4. New French Trailer rules  From April 1st  the French have introduced new regs for all vehicles over 3500Kg to have blind spot stickers at the rear and on the sides. This is going to apply to foreign owned vehicles too, and includes motorhome apparently, plus the stickers will be needed on the trailers. It is law now and fines start from 1st April – Morte Angle stickers can easily be found on eBay.
  5. What about Motorhomes, camping kit and racing kit? If you are travelling with a motorhome, the contents of which should not require a customs note, the same for personal photography / camera kit, and camping kit.
  6. Since we are now into Autumn – Have people been stopped for papers? – As the year has progressed, Covid has actually been a bit of a saviour, as the strict Covid rules has meant Brexit rules have not been rigidly enforced. (Unless you are travelling to Switzerland, where you really do need to get the paperwork sorted)  We have heard that the checking of papers is somewhat hit and miss.  If you travel with a CARNET you need to produce it at the docks, if you choose to travel without one, many people have not been stopped, or checked and the journey off the ferry onto the Motorway in Calais is easy.  However every now and again we hear of a story of a Truck load, or individual towing a high value car, or a man in a van with a bike onboard who get pulled up by Customs (they also have blue flashing lights and look like police)  and even though those individuals had applied by the rules in having their own car, or bike on board an ATA Carnet was demanded or they were fined and sent back to the UK. The common sense rule seems to be not to stand out. Make sure you have proof of ownership at least, keep any listed carnet goods separate from your hospitality kit, only travel with what is necessary for your own personal racing use or get the paperwork done.

You can find more questions answered and specifically about moments from NI here: https://www.motorsportuk.org/the-sport/brexit-transition/ata-carnet-to-europe-faqs/

Images by: Oliver Flower and above borrowed from RennsportCollective.

For a list of event dates for 2021 Click here 



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