The green card, an essential for your European trip

It’s strange that you haven’t heard of the green card when you are ordering papers or taking out insurance. It may even be that you have seen it among the papers that you keep in the glove compartment of the car but you have not stopped to think that it is a essential for your trip throughout the European continent.

If you are one of those who think that borders are a mere passage with barriers and kilometers translate into accumulated experience and are not a problem, having this document up to date is vital for any trip we make outside our borders.

What is the green card?

Very quickly: the “green card” is the International Automobile Civil Liability Insurance Certificate which demonstrates that the vehicle owner has valid civil liability insurance in the European Union and that he or she meets the minimum requirements in terms of coverage in foreign countries. This certificate facilitates the free movement of vehicles between different countries and guarantees adequate protection in the event of accidents.

A little history: Green card It was first introduced in 1949 under the supervision of the Bureaux Council (International Council of Insurance Bureaux). The idea was to provide a standard solution to ensure civil liability abroad and to protect drivers in accident situations. After creating these national offices in all countries, OFESAUTO was founded in Spain, which is the National Insurance Office, as you see, a very direct name.

Although it has always been called “green card”, since 2021 it was renamed “CIS«: International insurance certificate.


The first thing you have to know is that the green card has a 365 day validityone year of validity that you will have to renew once it expires to be able to have the following coverage:

  1. The CIS will show that you have a valid insurance to drive your car through certain foreign countries. Whenever you travel through any of the 13 non-EU countries where it is required, you will have civil liability in the event of an accident. If you do not carry it and depending on the country, you could be committing an infraction since you cannot prove that you are insured.
  2. The CIS guarantees your compensation. Although it will depend on the legislation of each country with the CIS (green card before 2021) you ensure its payment.

Where is it necessary?

The CIS There’s no need within the European Economic Area including Andorra, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway. Coverage standardized at European level by insurers allows free movement throughout the EEA.

On the contrary you will need the CIS if you are traveling to: Albania, Azerbaijan, Israel, Iran, Morocco, Moldova, Macedonia, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine. We also have to include the UK after leaving the EU with Brexit.

How to request it?

The easiest and quickest thing is to ask your insurance company so they can send it to you in a digital version so you can print it at home. Each company is different and will have its own processes, but the normal thing is that they provide it to you without problem, but they are not obliged to give it to you first when you take out the insurance.

It is also possible that due to coverage issues (third parties, all risks, etc.) your policy does not cover trips outside of Spain, so you will have to extend it.

If all this fails, you will have to hire the so-called «border insurance«, a compulsory insurance for third parties that can be hire online and that is very common on trips to our southern neighbor country, Morocco.

In case of an accident…

Firstin case of having an accident outside of Spain, it is essential identify providing your vehicle and insurance details. It is recommended to use the Friendly Accident Declaration (European Party) whenever possible, and capture photographs of the incident. This procedure must be carried out regardless of nationality and wherever the accident occurs.

Secondif you are traveling in a country that requires the International Insurance Certificate (CIS) or you have a still valid Green Card, show this document to the affected person or to the authorities that assist you. This will make it easier to understand and gather information about your insurance, as well as verify its validity.

In third placecontact the roadside assistance and notify the accident to your insurance company in Spain, as well as to the National Office of the country where the incident occurred. Generally, your insurer will be in charge of managing all the paperwork; Therefore, it is advisable to contact her first.

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