Right now, what’s going on with Brexit is a pretty unpredictable process but at the time of this feature being researched and written, an extension to the original March 29 date of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland leaving the European Union had only just been agreed.
We now know this extension has been pushed back to October 31, 2019 but we will be updating this feature to keep it up-to-date as things change.
How are motorcyclists going to be affected by the changes brought about by Brexit?
The simple answer is we actually don’t know for sure at this point because things are changing so much and so frequently.
Much of the information available is either wrong has become outdated, or is just plain guesswork which makes a confusing subject even worse.
Using the most accurate information we can find, we’ve written this guide to best point the way but everything is subject to change if a deal is signed, or if no deal is signed. The extension to Brexit now takes us to October 31, 2019 so there is a little bit of stability for a short while.
What exactly is changing for motorcyclists who want to ride their motorcycles abroad after Brexit?
Unlike much of the post-Brexit scenario, riding abroad is a little bit more predictable as we understand what many of the changes are going to be.
At a simplest of starts, your British passport is still going to be valid for European travel once Brexit happens no matter what kind of deal or otherwise is in place.
There is going to be a change in that you’re going to have to use the ‘non-EU’ arrival queues. After Brexit happens your passport will have to still have a minimum of six months remaining before the expiry date.
Any European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) you currently hold will no longer be valid so you will need to buy your own private travel and health insurance to cover any costs of treatment while you are away from the UK and Northern Ireland. This will include the Republic of Ireland too.
You will need personal travel and healthcare insurance to ensure you have cover against hospital treatment bills that can quickly become hugely expensive. You must check riding a motorcycle as a ‘main method of transport’ is covered as part of any insurance policy.
It’s absolutely crucial you make sure of this as any medical problems or injuries caused by riding a motorcycle outside of that cover will NOT be covered and you may be liable for the costs in full.
Nothing changes in that you will need to take your UK driving licence abroad to prove you have the correct permission to ride a motorcycle or scooter, but after Brexit you will also need a valid International Driving Permit (IDP) and an insurance Green Card to prove you have valid motorcycle insurance.
A Green Card can be obtained from your insurer and the IDP can be paid for over the counter at a Post Office. Be aware not all Post Offices will be set-up to issue IDP but you can check at the Post Office website.
International Driving Permit (IDP)
The current situation of being able to ride across to the EU with just a British driving licence will end after the latest Brexit extension of October 31, 2019 and from then you will need a valid International Driving Licence (IDP).
You will still need a valid UK driving licence (obviously showing your motorcycle entitlement) but you will also need an IDP that’s relevant to the country you will be riding in to be fully legally covered.
Are there different sorts of IDP?
There are three different versions of an IDP and they are coded to the years the legislation to implement them was brought into law.
The different types are 1926 (but this is not relevant to the EU or EEA), 1949 and 1968. Most countries in the EU and EEA use the 1968 version but you must make certain before travelling.
To add an extra layer of bureaucracy, the IDPs most commonly used are valid for different periods of time. The 1949 IDP only lasts a year, the 1968 IDP remains valid for three years.
For some trips you will need multiple IDPs. If you travel from France and into Spain you will need two, at a cost of £5.50 each.
This is an ever-evolving situation so checking on the Government website before you travel is the safest way to ensure you have the latest information.
Find a Post Office that issues IDPs here… https://www.postoffice.co.uk/international-driving-permit
As things change, it’s quite likely significant delays at ports and at the Channel Tunnel are going to occur as extra checks on road users and lorries carrying freight are increased due to an end to borderless travel arrangements.
Make sure to build in extra time to arrive, get checked in and still make your booked crossing without missing it and potentially incurring extra costs and delays.
How does Brexit change insurance for motorcycles riding in Europe?
Old-style insurance Green Cards will be needed again to prove you have valid insurance to cover you against a third party claim while travelling abroad.
The Green Card is an actual thing you will need to carry with you while you are travelling and it will need to be produced on the request of a police or customs officer or in the event of an accident. They are paper documents that should be printed on green paper and are issued by your insurer.
Your insurer may charge a small fee for issuing the Green Card but to avoid any issues you should request one by at least a month ahead of your travel date in order for it to be processed and to arrive.
All UK insurers will still cover the legal minimum motor insurance needed for travel to EU countries and there is no need to pay for additional insurance with a UK-registered vehicle.
As this situation is evolving, the Association of British Insurers is constantly updating advice. You can find its latest advice here… www.abi.org.uk/products-and-issues/choosing-the-right-insurance/motor-insurance/travelling-to-the-eu-if-a-no-deal-brexit/
If you are a Carole Nash policyholder, your broker has an advice page here: https://www.carolenash.com/brexit/
What can happen if I don’t have a Green Card?
This is against European law and you might be prosecuted for riding with no valid insurance. Depending on the country this could lead to a court-imposed fine, the vehicle being seized and/or prosecution.
There is an also the option to buy local ‘frontier’ insurance policies but these are often expensive and not easy to find cover. For this reason the Green Card is a much better option.
Are motorcycles going to cost more to buy after Brexit?
This is most certainly one of the biggest unknowns as it stands with the most current information we hold but with a fresh extension to Brexit to October 31, 2019, it may yet be another delay to any potential price increases.
If the UK leaves with no deal in place after October 31, 2019 then an option is for the UK to adopt World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.
In basic terms, this means the UK will cease trading from within the EU bloc as a whole, the zero tariffs we have with the rest of the EU could be removed and the UK will then have to revert to WTO rules.
The WTO rules are a massive global database of import duties currently imposed on products by countries or large trading blocs like the EU.
There are current WTO import duties on motorcycles ranging from 6% to 8% depending on the engine capacity. Motorcycle tyres have 4.5% tax with accessories and parts set at 3.7%. It’s entirely possible the UK could decide not to impose any of these.
If the UK leaves the EU and decides to continue to maintain EU tariffs the same in the short term, that will mean a 6% tax on all motorcycles over 250cc imported into the country. After that it will be down to motorcycle manufacturers and their importers to decide how much of that cost will be soaked up by themselves or passed straight onto consumers with increased list prices.
When you look at the sales figures in the UK then it’s clear to see a large percentage of bikes sold here originate from Japan.
Just as the UK is in the final stages of leaving the EU (or postponed as has just happened to avoid a no deal scenario) there was a new EU/Japan trade deal called the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement that became law at the start of February.
This new agreement lifted all import duties and tariffs on Japanese motorcycles, accessories parts and tyres made in Japan.
As a matter of course, this deal will no longer be relevant to the UK once we leave the EU but, as we mentioned earlier, the UK can carry this kind of zero tariff deal over with the Japanese market if it chooses after Brexit.
Looking at the overall picture, it’s unlikely motorcycles or any kind of equipment or accessories imported or even those manufactured on UK soil are going to be cheaper and the much more likely outcome is they will be more expensive.
Are fuel prices going to rise after Brexit?
Fuel prices are already affected by so many factors that Brexit isn’t that likely to have much of an impact according to experts.
The cost of a barrel of oil, the value of the pound and government taxation already exert the biggest effects on the price we pay at the pumps.
Crude oil prices are affected by supply and do fluctuate as that supply and demand changes and Brexit is unlikely to have much impact on this.
However, one major influence is the value of the UK Pound because we import all of the oil we need to make fuel, so a weaker Pound that’s worth less against the US Dollar means it costs more in real terms to buy oil needed.
As already stated the Brexit situation is changing constantly so we will keep this as up-to-date as we can but it’s definitely worth checking the government website here… www.gov.uk/guidance/prepare-to-drive-in-the-eu-after-brexit