Travel and transport - EU exit information

Travel to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein will change from 1 January 2021. What these changes are depend on how you’re travelling and where you're going to.

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. 

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) may 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.

It may be illegal to travel without this proof of insurance. 

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 if - for instance, if you are towing a trailer or a caravan. 

Further information is available on the gov.uk website.

You should contact your motor insurance provider to get a Green Card. As this may take anything from 15 days to one month to process, enough time should be allowed before travelling.

It is 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.

Passports

Until 1 January 2021, you can continue to travel to Europe with a UK passport until it expires.

New rules will apply for travel to Europe from 1 January 2021.

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 will be no change in pet travel requirements during the transition period.

On 1 January 2021, pet travel requirements will change depending on the outcome of negotiations with the EU.

To make sure your pet is able to travel, you should contact your vet at least four months 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:

Travel insurance 

You should always get appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover before you go abroad.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you should make sure your insurance company is aware so that they can make sure you are adequately covered.

Emergency healthcare

Residents from Northern Ireland visiting a country in the EU, EEA or Switzerland should consider buying healthcare or medical insurance before visiting.

Those with pre-existing medical conditions should make their insurance company aware so that they are adequately covered.

Information on European Healthcare Insurance Cards (EHIC) is available at this link:

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