At a time when travel abroad is more common, drivers need to be aware of statutory insurance regulations for the countries they intend to drive in. Roy Rodger explains the Green Card system

The Green Card system was introduced on 1 January 1953 under the authority of the Economic Commission for Europe of the United Nations. The Council of Bureaux, established in London in 1949, manages the system.

The geographical limits consist of most European Countries and some non-European countries, that border the Mediterranean Sea. Iran and Iraq are also included, but Iraq is currently suspended.

The objectives of the Green Card are:

  • To ensure that innocent victims of road accidents do not lose out on compensation in an accident where an accident was caused by a visiting motorist rather than a local one. There is no point in having a sound domestic system of compulsory motor insurance if visitors from abroad can enter the country and drive around uninsured.
  • To avoid the need for motorists to buy insurance cover in each foreign country they may visit. This would be a hindrance to trade, tourism, and travel generally and against the spirit of the "New Europe".

    Each participating country has a Green Card bureau to administer the scheme. In the UK, the Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB) does this. Each Green Card bureau has two functions. It handles and settles claims arising from accidents caused by visiting motorists.

    For example, where the visiting motorist has gone back to his own country and will not co-operate, the MIB will deal with the claim and recover from the driver's bureau.

    It also guarantees payments under Green Cards carried by UK motorists who drive abroad. If a UK motorist has had an accident abroad and is uninsured, the MIB will reimburse the foreign bureau.

    A Green Card is an international motor insurance certificate and carries the same responsibilities as a certificate of motor insurance does in the UK. A Green Card is accepted in countries for which it is valid as evidence of enough compulsory motor insurance to satisfy the law in the country visited. This is why we need to keep Green Cards under lock and key - just as we do with cover notes and certificates.

    Is a Green Card essential for all countries being visited?

    No. A large number of European countries have reached an agreement that Green Cards are no longer necessary. The national vehicle registration plate of the country of origin is sufficient evidence that the driver has the minimum insurance cover to satisfy the law of the country where he is driving. These states are members of The Multilateral Guarantee Agreement (MGA).

    Drivers are, however, advised to carry with them:

  • Driving licence
  • Vehicle registration book or other documentation to prove ownership
  • Certificate of motor insurance.

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