End of car insurance stickers in France: what about driving abroad?

The little green windscreen vignettes are disappearing in April

European police will be able to check cars are insured by scanning their number plates
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France will be relying solely on a digital registry of car insurance from April, making the old green paper stickers obsolete. We look at how this will work for people with French insurance when they travel abroad.

From April 1, police in France will check if a car has insurance by scanning its number plate. Drivers will no longer have to fix a green sticker to their windscreens, known as the vignette, or papillon vert.

Read more: End of green car insurance sticker in France: Eight questions answered

This green sticker is a detachable part of the carte verte insurance document that up to now has been sent out annually by French insurers.

Drivers have been asked to keep the main part of the document in their car in case of having to show their papers, as well as to attach the sticker. Carrying the main section will now also no longer be necessary in France.

However, the carte verte is not a French system but rather an international one, bound by a mesh of international deals dating back to 1947.

The system is held together by insurance companies, governments, international bodies, such as the EU, and treaties to ensure that drivers’ insurance is valid across 48 countries.

Up to 35 of these countries - including the UK and all of the EU - have agreed to the Green Card Free Circulation Area (GCFCA), which allows for digitised information sharing.

This means that when the sticker and document requirements are phased out April 1, the French authorities will also allow police from other countries that are in the GCFCA to consult drivers’ insurance status by scanning their number plates.

The legal framework for the system has been in place since 2021.

However, drivers who leave the Green Card Free Circulation Area (GCFCA), but remain in countries that accept green card insurance, will still need to carry proof of international insurance, which they will be able to ask their insurer for.

In the meantime, existing cartes vertes documents are still acceptable for this purpose while in their validity period.

This applies to travel to Albania, Azerbaijan, Morocco, Moldavia, North Macedonia, Tunisia, Türkiye, Ukraine.

The Russian Federation left the GCFCA on June 1, 2023.

Outside of the 45 countries that accept 'green card' insurance, drivers still need to take out a specific insurance.

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