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No-deal Brexit: Britons in EU could be forced to retake driving tests

Britons living in the EU may be forced to retake their driving test if they do not swap their British licence for a European one before Brexit D-Day on March 29th if there is no deal, the UK government has revealed.

No-deal Brexit: Britons in EU could be forced to retake driving tests
Britons living in the EU may be forced to retake their driving test. Photo: springfield/Depositphotos
There was yet more bad news for Brits living in Europe this week. 
 
The Department for Transport in the UK revealed that in the case of a no-deal Brexit Britons living in the EU may have to pass another driving test in the country they are living in. 
 
“In the event that there is no EU exit deal, you may have to pass a driving test in the EU country you live in to be able to carry on driving there,” read the statement.
 
Brits living in the EU have been told to swap their British licence for an EU one before the (current) official Brexit day of March 29th but the worry is that a backlog of applications may mean processing delays and people may not have the licence they need in time for the deadline. 
 
If this happens and there is no deal, they may have to retake their driving test. 
 
But it isn't only those living in Europe who may be affected. 
 
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Euro MPs back Brexit delay in letter to BritainPhoto: AFP

Britons on short-term visits to Europe might have to return to the UK in order to get the right paperwork at the post office, with a no-deal Brexit potentially meaning British tourists in Europe need three types of international driving permit. 
 
One positive note from the UK government was that British motorists will still be able to drive in Ireland without any additional paperwork. 
 
But overall it isn't good news for British drivers who can currently drive in all EU countries using their normal licence. 
 
Additionally, British holidaymakers will need different driving permits for different countries in case of a no deal.  
 
This is because drivers with international driving permits (IDPs) issued in Britain currently have either 1949 or 1926 permits.
 
But Britain will have to start issuing a third type for the majority of EU countries that approved the 1968 convention on road traffic and drivers will still need a 1949 version for countries such as Spain, Cyprus, Malta and Iceland.
 
These permits, which are currently available online for £5.50, will only be obtainable at UK post offices from the end of January. 
 
There are fears among professional driving associations that the “mess” will cause a lot of trouble for Britons living in the EU as well as holidaymakers. 
 
“Thousands of expats, many of them elderly, will not relish the prospect of having to retake their driving test in a different country and different language if there is no deal,” the president of the AA motorists' organisation Edmund King told the press. 
 
King added that drivers without the right driving permits could find that they are turned away at ports, calling the fact that drivers will no longer be able to apply for IDPs online a “backward step”. 
 
Meanwhile it looks like EU citizens in the UK will have a better deal.
 
The UK has said it will continue to let EU citizens drive with their EU licence in Britain after Brexit for up to three years after coming to live in the UK and they will be able to exchange their licence for a British one.

Member comments

  1. I applied to exchange my British driver’s licence for a French Licence in April 2018. I have heard nothing….

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TRAVEL NEWS

France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Visits to the Channel islands from France have halved since Brexit, and French local authorities say they may be forced to cut the regular ferry service, asking for the passport requirement to be waived for French visitors.

France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Travel to and from the Channel islands – which are British crown dependancies – has reduced significantly since Brexit, when passports became a requirement for those travelling in and out of the islands and their ports.

Now the president of the local authorities in the Manche département of France has asked that passport requirements be lifted, with hopes of increasing travel to and from the islands.

Jean Morin told Ouest France that there has been a “considerable reduction in the number of passengers on routes between the Channel ports and the islands” and as a result the ferry service between France and the islands was seriously in deficit.

“On these lines, we will never make money, but we cannot be in deficit”, explained the Morin. 

He added that if a solution is not found by the deadline of May 1st, 2023, then local authorities will stop funding the shipping company DNO, which runs the Manche Îles Express ferry service.

“If the passport requirement is not lifted by then, we will have no choice but not to renew the service contract for 2024-2025”, Morin told Ouest France.

Only around half of French people have a passport, since the ID card issued to all adults is sufficient to travel within the EU. 

READ MORE: Ask the Expert: How Brexit has changed the rules on pensions, investments and bank accounts for Brits in France

DNO re-launched operations in April and since then, the company, and by extension the département – who plays a large role in funding it via a public service delegation – has been losing significant funds.

According to Franceinfo, the number of passengers has been cut in half since passport requirements were introduced. Franceinfo estimates that for one ticket for one passenger costing €30, the département spends €200.

According to Morin, the ideal solution would be to require a simple ID for tourists seeking to take just day-long or weekend-long stays on the islands – which reportedly represents at least 90 percent of the boats’ usual passengers.

“The Jersey government is working hard on the issue and is waiting for an agreement from London and the European Union. There is the possibility that things could move quickly”, Morin told Franceinfo on Tuesday.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, boats going to and from the French mainland carried at least 110,000 people per year. In 2022, only 40,000 passengers made the journey, Olivier Normand, the sales manager of Manche Îles Express, told Actu France.

Normand had expected the decline, however. He told Actu France that the company had taken a survey, which found that almost half (between 40 and 50 percent) of their clientele did not have a passport. 

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