Before you travel
Things you may need to do before you go include:
- check you have the right driving documents
- check your passport
- get travel insurance that covers your healthcare
- organise pet travel - contact your vet at least four months before you go
NI citizens driving in the EU
Driving licence requirements
If you hold an NI/ UK driving licence you will not need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in the Republic of Ireland. You will, however, need to carry your NI/ UK driving licence.
Drivers (both commercial and private) may need one or more IDPs, in addition to their NI/UK driving licence, to drive in other EU and EEA countries.
If you’re driving abroad
You must renew your licence before you can drive abroad.
If your NI/ UK driving licence has been automatically extended, you do not need to renew it to drive in the Republic of Ireland.
The UK government has issued guidance at this link:
If you are from NI but live in the Republic of Ireland, you should exchange your NI/ UK driving licence for an Irish driving licence before the 31 December 2020, so you can drive legally in the Republic of Ireland.
You can only get IDPs over the counter at the Post Office and they cost £5.50. You will need to take certain documents with you to the Post Office when buying your IDP(s).
Further information is available at this link:
Motor insurance requirements
NI drivers (private and commercial) need to carry a physical Green Card when travelling across the border into the Republic of Ireland to prove they have valid insurance cover for their vehicle.
A Green Card will also be required to drive your vehicle in the rest of the EU and EEA.
More than one Green Card may be required - for instance, if you are towing a trailer or a caravan.
Further information is available on the gov.uk website.
If you don't have a Green Card, you should contact your motor insurance provider to get one. As this may take anything from 15 days to one month to process, enough time should be allowed before travelling.
It's possible that there may be a small administrative charge associated with the provision of the Green Card, but this will depend on the insurer.
Vehicle Distinguishing Mark
Each country has its own distinguishing mark for the purposes of international traffic.
Under international conventions, the distinguishing mark for the United Kingdom is 'GB', standing for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Although vehicles registered in Northern Ireland or Great Britain are not required to display a GB sticker or symbol when driving in the Republic of Ireland, a GB sticker should be displayed on UK-registered vehicles when they're driven in the rest of the EU or EEA.
EU citizens driving in NI
The arrangements for EU and EEA licence holders will not change.
Visitors with EU and EEA driving licences will not need an IDP to drive in the UK. Therefore drivers with Irish driving licences will not require an IDP, to drive in NI.
Irish drivers visiting the UK/ NI will be able to demonstrate adequate proof of motor insurance, in accordance with UK law, using either a Green Card, windscreen ‘disc’ issued by the motor insurer, or through legally valid insurance documentation.
Cross-border bus and rail travel
Cross-border bus and rail services may continue to operate as normal.
All senior citizens resident in Northern Ireland aged 65 or over will still be eligible for free travel on public transport throughout the island of Ireland.
New rules now apply for travel to Europe.
You’ll need to have at least six months left on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe (not including the Republic of Ireland).
You’ll need to renew your passport before travelling if you do not have enough time left on your passport.
GOV.UK has guidance which gives more information on which countries this affects:
The existing Common Travel Area between the UK and Ireland will continue.
Travelling with animals and pets
When travelling with your pet dog, cat or ferret, the rules you must follow depend on the country you are going to or coming from.
There is no change for pet travel to the EU, including the Republic of Ireland.
Pet travel from GB to Northern Ireland now requires additional health preparations and documents.
To make sure your pet is able to travel, you should contact your vet before travelling to get the latest advice.
You can get more information and check the rules for the country you’re travelling to on the DAERA website:
More information from the UK government is available at this link:
Healthcare for UK nationals visiting the EU
You can get state healthcare when you’re on holiday or travelling to a country in the EU.
When you travel to an EU country you should have either:
- a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
- a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)
- travel insurance with healthcare cover
An EHIC or GHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance. Make sure you have both before you travel.
if you have a pre-existing medical condition, you should make your insurance company aware so that you are adequately covered.
Healthcare for UK nationals visiting Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein
Currently an EHIC or GHIC cannot be used to access medically necessary healthcare in Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein.
You should get appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover before you travel, including cover for pre-existing conditions.
In Norway you can use a UK passport to get medically necessary healthcare (for example emergency treatment or to treat a pre-existing condition).
Information on EHICs and GHICs is available at this link: