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UK driving licences 'may no longer be valid in EU' in event of no-deal Brexit, government admits

Lorry drivers and holidaymakers may be forced to obtain permits for different countries

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Thursday 13 September 2018 14:48 BST
What does a no-deal Brexit mean?

British driving licences may no longer be valid in the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the government has admitted.

The latest batch of Whitehall planning papers revealed lorry drivers and holidaymakers could be forced to obtain permits for the countries they visit, similar to those already used to drive in some states in the United States or Japan.

Expats that move abroad after Brexit day may also have to re-sit their driving test, as their UK licence would no longer be recognised on the continent.

It comes as the government steps up its preparations for the risks if Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal next March, publishing a second wave of 28 papers warning of the day-to-day impact on areas ranging from car manufacturing to data roaming changes.

The advice from the Department of Transport (DfT) said: Your driving licence may no longer be valid by itself when driving in the EU.

“If you move to another EU country to live, you may not be able to exchange your licence after the UK has left the EU.”

Mutual recognition of driving licences between the UK and the EU would end if there is no deal with Brussels, meaning British drivers would have to obtain an international driving permit (IDP) to journey abroad.

Tourists driving between France and Spain would need two separate IDPs, as both countries are covered by different conventions.

Anyone without the £5.50 permit could face fines or be turned away if they try to cross a border in Europe.

IDPs will be available from February next year, prompting warnings over a rush on post offices from hundreds of thousands drivers.

The National Audit Office previously warned that up to 7 million IDPs could be issued in the first year if Britain crashes out without a deal.

Edmund King, AA president, said: “In some circumstances, such as driving into France and then Spain, drivers will need two separate IDPs as Spain, Eire, Malta and Cyprus have not ratified the 1968 Vienna Convention.

“This will be an extra burden for UK drivers wanting to take a holiday abroad. We are also disappointed that from the end of January next year the AA will no longer be permitted to issue IDPs as we have done for decades."

He added: “We envisage quite a rush on post offices next year for the £5.50 IDPs if no deal is reached.

"Hopefully an agreement can be reached to prevent further red tape and expense for drivers.”

The Road Haulage Association (RHA), which represents lorry drivers, said the warnings were nothing more than a smoke screen more pressing issues that need to be addressed before March 2019.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “It is disappointing that the international haulage technical paper was not published today.

“Without clarity, any changes in supply chain operations cannot be delivered in the time left between now and next March. With so many unanswered questions, how can businesses even begin to prepare?"

Labour MP Virendra Sharma, who backs the Best for Britain campaign said: "It's official: Brexit is driving the UK round the bend.

"British drivers will now have to get driving licenses for multiple countries if they want to drive down to Spain. And that's if they're lucky and can get one!

"It's just another cost and more bureaucracy Brits will have to go through."

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