New documents published by the European Commission show that they will reject UK driving licences as being valid for use in the EU after Brexit and intend to charge a fee for drivers in the form of a driving permit to be able to drive on the continent.
In the report, it seems that after Brexit formally happens, there will no longer be ‘mutual recognition of driving licences, vehicle registration documents and certificates of professional competence for drivers. All current EU law-based rights, obligations and benefits cease, meaning that our current driving regulations in relation to driving in the EU will change, but to what extent is currently unknown. If no negotiations for licence recognition are put in place, then UK drivers may have to register for an International Driving Permit (IDP) to be able to drive in the EU member states. While contingency plans are being put in place to help protect British drivers, there will most certainly be a change to our driving laws as Brexit negotiations go through, which the EU state “is a consequence of the UK becoming a third country in the road transport sector.”

What does this actually mean?

After Brexit happens, anyone who wants to drive in EU member states might have to register for an IDP. The International Driving Permit – an official multilingual licence, would need to be shown if pulled over when driving in the EU. These are currently in place around the globe, with 140 countries currently recommending or requiring one. Because Britain is becoming what is known as a ‘third country’ which is simply a country that is not part of the EU, we will have to anticipate this change.
As well as potentially stopping drivers from bringing their cars abroad, the new agreements may also prevent you hiring a car with a UK licence. It is thought that an additional permit may be required to allow you to hire a car and a further cost. At the moment, hiring a car in Europe has the same restrictions as in the UK and no charges, but it looks like that could all change after Brexit.

UK licence compromise proposal

The Department for Transport (DfT) responded to these new suggestions and regulations by saying that they will look into creating a deal with the EU of ‘mutual licence recognition’ as that is ‘in the interest of both sides.’ There is a suggestion that by next year, ministers may have the ability to charge and restrict drivers who are bringing their cars into the UK from abroad, allowing a two-way exchange of regulations. These restrictions would most likely be the same as what would be placed on British drivers; the need for an IDP, higher restrictions on hiring a car in the UK and potentially higher charges to bring a car in. If UK law similarly restricts European drivers, then that will cause a loss in tourism revenue and the economy will be affected, hence the DfT push to gain mutual licence recognition. If we gain mutual licence recognition, it could potentially negate the need for an IDP when driving in the EU and a special permit for EU car hire. However, there still may be a possibility that one would be required as an extra layer of protection for both sides.

Laws in place to ratify EU driving

The UK has already started to plan, with plans to ratify the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic to allow drivers in all member states, excluding Germany, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. If the UK also ratifies and transposes the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic into our national law, then those five countries will be included so that UK driving licences should be accepted in the EU.
A DfT spokesman said, “ratifying the Vienna Convention will guarantee that UK driving licences will be accepted throughout the EU when held with the relevant supporting IDP.” These plans, however, are only in case the DfT mutual licence recognition is not in place in time and provide a safety net for UK drivers. It also works in the case of a no deal, to allow basic connectivity in the transport sector. UPDATE On the 20th March at 9:32am the government announced their official plans on ratifying the Vienna convention, meaning that the plans to introduce IDPs, as outlined in this article are officially confirmed. For more information, please head here
What do you think the government should do here? Should British drivers have to use an IDP after Brexit? Should we equally demand to see an IDP from EU drivers arriving in the UK? Let us know in the comments below