The UK government is warning British drivers that their licences may be invalid in the European Union in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The warning was delivered in one of the 28 notices issued today (13 September) that are intended to give British people, businesses, and other groups advice on how to prepare for the possibility of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal.
As it stands now, drivers with a UK licence can hop in a car in the EU without any extra documentation. Their licences are considered equivalent to their EU counterparts.
“After March 2019 if there’s no [Brexit] deal, your driving licence may no longer be valid by itself when driving in the EU,” the government said on Thursday.
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The UK is set to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019 at 11pm local time and politicians from both sides are scrambling to strike a formalised deal covering crucial issues including trade, migration and border control.
The government is advising British drivers that they may need to get an International Driving Permit, which they would have to carry alongside their UK licence, to keep driving in the EU.
“You may be turned away at the border or face other enforcement action, for example fines, if you don’t have the correct [driving permit],” it said, noting that different nations in the EU required different types of permits. These permits expire after either one year or three years, requiring drivers to reapply for new ones.
This change in rules for UK drivers could cause immediate disruption for British tourists and thousands of truck drivers who transport goods through the Channel Tunnel every day.
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The National Audit Office previously estimated that as many as 7 million British drivers would apply for new international driving permits in the first year after a potential no-deal Brexit. It forecast that the UK Department for Transport would have to boost its working ranks by more than 60% to deal with all the Brexit changes. It also estimated that the changes could cost the department £180mn ($236mn) by early 2022.