Drivers face £5.50 charge to enter Europe

Drivers face £5.50 charge to enter Europe in the event of a No Deal Brexit, new plans reveal

  • Motorists could face charges to drive in France, Spain and elsewhere in Europe
  • British drivers currently only need their UK license to drive in EU countries 
  • Without a deal motorists may need the International Driving Permit as well 

Red tape: Motorists travelling to the EU, like these in Dover, will need permits (file image)

British motorists could have to pay £5.50 to drive in France, Spain and elsewhere in Europe under plans being drawn up for a No Deal Brexit.

Combined with Brussels’ proposals to charge British visitors a £6 fee for visa-free travel across the EU – whether or not we leave with a deal – it means UK motorists will have to stump up more than £11 for the right to drive on the Continent.

British drivers currently need only their plastic UK driving licence to drive in EU countries. But there are fears that if we leave the EU without a deal, motorists will need the International Driving Permit (IDP) as well.

The National Audit Office estimates that up to seven million such documents may be required in the first year in the case of No Deal.

It is already needed or recommended for more than 140 countries, but the situation is further confused because there are two versions of the permit: one valid for 12 months in Ireland, Spain, Malta and Cyprus, and the other valid for three years in all other EU countries plus Norway and Switzerland.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: ‘No one seems to know quite how big the problem is. Throw in the issue of whether drivers will actually need two different permits if they are travelling through a variety of countries and it is clear the challenges to motorists could be significant.’

The requirement for the new permits was outlined in a private letter from Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to Tory MPs designed to ease concerns over travel arrangements for people booking summer holidays now.

But the letter caused more confusion by wrongly informing MPs that the permits alone would cost £10. Sources close to the Transport Secretary last night blamed a ‘typing error’ for the blunder.

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Currently, only 89 post offices issue the permit, but that will increase to 2,500 under the new plans, although the document can also be obtained online.

Mr Grayling told MPs: ‘For those who are travelling across the Channel to France or other European destinations, in case they are needed, we have arranged for the Post Office to issue International Driving Permits.

‘These will be available from local post offices in February, and will cost £10.’

After enquiring with both the Post Office and the Department for Transport, The Mail on Sunday was assured there were no plans to increase the current £5.50 fee for an IDP.

Sources close to the Transport Secretary last night said he hoped the extra paperwork would not be necessary as he expected the Government would be able to strike a deal with Brussels.

British drivers currently need only their plastic UK driving licence to drive in EU countries. But there are fears that if we leave the EU without a deal, motorists will need the International Driving Permit (IDP) as well (file image)

However, yesterday it emerged that the EU was also planning to charge Britons to enter Europe under a visa-waiver scheme.

Anyone aged from 18 to 70 would have to pay for a pass that would last for three years. The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) could be introduced from 2021, after the end of the planned transition period.

But the move has sparked warnings of a tit-for-tat response from the UK and anger from Tory MPs, given how much British tourists contribute to European resorts.

The threat of EU access permits comes amid growing concern within Theresa May’s Cabinet over the country’s preparations for No Deal.

Last month, The Mail on Sunday revealed that Environment Secretary Michael Gove had been convinced to back Theresa May’s Brexit deal after being told that Britain would run out of clean drinking water within days of a No Deal Brexit because crucial chemicals used in water purification are imported from Europe. The vital chemicals are timed to arrive ‘just in time’ and cannot be stockpiled as they are too volatile, meaning that water plants would have to turn off the taps if supplies were disrupted at ports.

In his letter to Tory MPs, Mr Grayling sought to calm fears over post-Brexit transport problems – including possible flight disruptions – and reassure ‘holidaymakers next summer as they prepare to book holidays’.

He said: ‘We have now concluded almost all of the third-country aviation arrangements we will need outside the EU for post-Brexit Britain. Within the EU, both we and the [European] Commission have been clear that… there will be an agreement enabling routine aviation between UK airports and the EU to continue as normal.

‘I hope this reassures you that we do not expect any issues for your constituents looking to book their summer holidays over the Christmas period.’

The Post Office last night said: ‘We’re pleased to be able to extend the number of branches offering IDPs to 2,500 from February 1.’

It added that it would expand the service whether or not there was a Brexit deal.

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