European motorcycle insurance

Don’t ever assume your motorbike insurance includes European cover. Always check you’re covered to ride on the Continent, or extend your cover before heading abroad.

Alice Morgan
Alice Morgan
Updated 12 February 2021  | 4 min read

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Do I have EU motorbike insurance?

You have EU motorbike insurance if you have a UK motorcycle insurance policy.

You need to be aware that your policy might only offer the minimum legal cover to ride in EU countries – it won’t necessarily be the same cover as you have for riding in the UK.

For example, you could have a comprehensive motorcycle insurance policy but might only have third party cover in the EU (plus Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia and Switzerland), as that’s the legal minimum.

Key points

  • Basic EU cover is included in all UK motorbike policies
  • If you want to ride in other countries or get the same level of cover as you have on your UK policy you might need to add it as an optional extra
  • Check the total number of days of cover you have – and the number of continuous days
  • You’ll need a green card from your insurer in some countries and you may need a GB sticker too

Limits of cover

If your policy offers ‘EU cover’ on the same terms as your UK cover (e.g. comprehensive), it might not extend to other European countries, like Norway and Switzerland – so always check.

If you only have third party cover, you won’t be insured for things like theft, vandalism, fire damage or accidents that are your fault.

You don't need a green card  for riding in the EU, but you will need to carry your certificate of insurance to prove you’ve got the minimum amount of cover for the country you're driving in. 

In some Eastern European countries outside the EU – Albania, Azerbaijan Belarus, Moldova, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine – you'll need to carry a green card.

Getting a green card for your motorbike

You can request a green card from your insurer. It’ll either post it to you, which takes around six weeks, or give you instructions on how to print one out yourself.

You must carry a physical copy of your green card – digital formats aren’t accepted.

You’ll need more than one green card if:

  • you’ll be riding multiple motorbikes
  • you’ll be towing a trailer (one for your bike, and one for the trailer)
  • two insurance policies will cover your trip (one card for each policy). For example, if your current policy expires and your new one starts while you’re abroad.

GB stickers

For most EU countries, you don’t need a GB sticker for your motorcycle if:

  • your number plate has the GB identifier on its own or with the Union flag.
  • you’ll be riding in Ireland

You do need a GB sticker if your number plate has:

  • a euro symbol
  • a national flag of England, Scotland or Wales
  • numbers and letters only – no flag or identifier

But if you’re riding in Spain, Cyprus or Malta, you must show a GB sticker, regardless of what’s on your number plate.

Do I need an international driving permit (IDP) to ride in the EU?

No. You only need an IDP for riding in the EU if you have a paper driving licence, or a licence issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man.

Can I tow a trailer with my motorcycle in the EU?

Yes, as long as you have proof of suitable insurance and the right documents.

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Time limits on European motorcycle insurance

You’ll only have European cover for a certain number of days per year and this will be specified in your policy documents.

Insurers can be generous with this allowance – 93% of 49 policies listed on Defaqto offered 60 days or more foreign use cover annually.[1]

The catch is, this is a total annual limit – so you might not be able to use it all up in a single trip.

So you also need to check your policy for the single trip limit – that's how long you’re insured abroad for any one trip.

Only 69% of policies offered cover for a single foreign trip of 60 days or more, so check your documents carefully if you’re planning an extended trip.

European motorbike cover as an optional extra

Lots of policies will include the same level of cover in Europe as you have when riding in the UK, but if yours doesn’t you might want to add it to your policy.

You might be able to add cover for several trips over the whole year, or just upgrade cover for the days you’re going away.

This is usually charged as an optional extra and your insurer might also charge you an admin fee to change your policy.

Because of that, it’s usually cheaper to think about whether you’ll be riding abroad when you take out your policy and, if you are, make sure you choose one with the cover you need for your trip.

European breakdown cover for motorbikes

European breakdown cover won’t be covered as standard on your insurance policy, so you’ll need to buy it separately, even if your insurance includes breakdown cover in the UK.

You can get cover for a single trip or take out an annual policy.

Depending on the policy you take out, you can be covered for roadside assistance, garage labour costs, accommodation expenses and getting your bike back to the UK.

[1]Last checked 27 February 2023