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biking in Europe

If you’re biking in Europe in the new year you should be aware of the new Green Card regulations coming into force on 1st January 2021.

From the moment Big Ben rings in 2021 it will become law for motorists and bikers to carry a valid Green Card when they travel anywhere within the European Economic region. 

Despite the change in law, incredibly, a recent survey conducted by the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) found that only a third of those asked had even heard of a Green Card and just 37% knew they would need to get one for biking in Europe from 1 January.

So what is a Green Card?

Green Cards are International Motor Insurance Certificates (IMICs). They guarantee that you hold the necessary third-party motor insurance cover required for the country or countries you will be visiting while biking in Europe.

The Green Card may be sent to you digitally by your insurer but you will need to print it out on paper before your journey. In years gone by the Green Card had to be printed on green paper but that is no longer the case, however, you may find that is simpler to do so to simplify matters should you need to produce  your documents.

The Green Card, which covers the period of your intended travel abroad, and usually covering up to a maximum of 90 days in Europe, will be needed by bikers from the UK travelling throughout the EEA — the European Economic Area — and some other countries such as Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland.  For a full list of EEA member states visit

Green cards lasting for longer than 90 days will still be available upon referral for individual consideration.

If you have advised your insurance provider of your intended foreign use and they have issued you with a “green card” then your current policy cover will have been extended to cover you in the same way it does in the UK for the countries you have named for the agreed period of time.

We simply don’t know how individual countries will treat riders that do not have a Green Card when asked to present one, but there’s no point putting yourself at risk of delay, fines or prosecution for the sake of a bit of forward planning and a potential small cost.


Do I need any other extra paperwork for biking in Europe?

When biking in Europe you may also need an International Driving Permit (IDP) which allows you to ride in countries where a UK licence alone is not sufficient. An IDP can be obtained over the counter from the Post Office for £5,50. 

You can use the Post Office IDP checker tool to find out if you will need a permit and find out what supporting documentation you will need when you apply.

There are three different kinds which different countries recognise, if you are passing through multiple countries you may need more than one.  They are named after the version of the convention ratified in each country.
  • A 1949 IDP (Spain, Andorra, Malta, Cyprus, Iceland, Vatican City),
  • A 1968 IDP (all the other EU countries, Norway, Switzerland, San Marino, Monaco)
  • A 1926 IDP (Liechtenstein)
  • Ireland has ratified the 1949 Convention but doesn’t require foreign drivers to carry an IDP so you won’t need an IDP to drive in Ireland.
If you are driving to Spain (assuming you don’t take the Santander or Bilbao ferry), you’d need two documents – a 1968 to get through France, and a 1949 version, and you’d have to pay separately for each one.

While biking in Europe you will also need to carry your passport, which must have at least sx months validity, driving licence and motorbike registration documents, display a GB sticker and carry a spare set of bulbs, a breathalyser, a high-vis vest (two if you plan to take a pillion passenger, and a first aid kit. 

If you’re a tourist, you won’t need a visa for short trips to most EU countries, and you’ll be able to stay in one country for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. But that is set to change in 2022 when it is likely that you will need a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) visa waiver – similar to an American ESTA.

biking in Europe

 How do I get a Green Card?

Getting your Green Card for biking in Europe couldn’t be easier. Contact the motorcycle Green Card experts at Bikesure. Inquiries can be handled even quicker by phone so call .

You will need to provide your name, policy number, registration number, dates of travel and the countries you intend visiting. Your Green Card can usually be emailed to you the same day. The Green Card is free as long as you are not exceeding 90 days cover in the policy term, but there may be a small admin charge to cover the cost of the document being issued. 

And, getting set for biking in Europe, there are one or two other insurance options Bikesure may have for you, including:

  • European breakdown cover from £56
  • Keycare insurance from £18
  • Helmet and leathers cover from £27

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