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UK driving licences may not be valid in Republic if there's a no-deal Brexit: Government

By Neil Lancefield

Motorists crossing the border into the Republic after a no-deal Brexit could be turned away if they only have a UK driving licence, the Government has warned.

UK driving licences may no longer be valid on their own to drive in the European Union if there is no agreement.

Drivers could need International Driving Permits (IDP) if the EU does not agree to recognise UK licences, according to new guidance.

They may be turned away at borders or face enforcement action if they have not obtained the correct documents.

There are two types of IDP required by EU countries, depending on whether they have ratified the 1949 or 1968 conventions on road traffic.

Some will require both permits, such as when people drive into France and then Spain.

The documents cost £5.50. The 1949 type is available over the counter at around 90 Post Office branches or by mail order from two private companies.

The mail order service will cease on January 31, and the Government will begin providing IDPs the following day.

Motorists will be able to apply for both types at 2,500 Post Office branches across the UK.

The Department for Transport believes up to seven million permits could be requested in the first 12 months after Brexit.

AA president Edmund King said: "This will be an extra burden for UK drivers wanting to take a holiday abroad. We envisage quite a rush on post offices next year for the £5.50 IDPs if no deal is reached.

"Hopefully an agreement can be reached to prevent further red tape and expense for drivers."

Driving licences from outside the EU are recognised for up to a year in the Republic, but it isn't clear if that would remain the case in the event of no deal.

Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson said: "This shows the ludicrousness of the Tory Brexit agenda and also how little knowledge, appreciation or care they have for people in areas like Derry, which is essentially a cross-border city, and the many thousands across the North who drive across the border every day to work or study.

"It also begs the question of how this will be enforced and raises legitimate concerns over lengthy border delays if permits are to be checked.

"Such a development would be disastrous for businesses, particularly small businesses in border areas, and could have huge implications for the tourism and service industries north and south."

The warning came as part of the Government's latest tranche of 28 technical papers on the no-deal preparations.

They said that mobile phone bills for customers living near the border in Northern Ireland could spike after Brexit.

The documents said consumers and businesses should be aware of "inadvertent" data roaming, where a stronger signal from the Republic kicks in.

It comes after Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab urged phone companies not to impose roaming charges on customers if Britain crashes out of the European Union.

Vodafone, Three, EE and O2, which cover more than 85% of mobile subscribers, have said they have no current plans to change their approach to mobile roaming once the UK leaves.

The Government will legislate to introduce a cap on charges if there is a no-deal scenario.

It would set a £45 per monthly billing period limit and force companies to send alerts when 80% of that had been reached.

If a deal is secured, surcharge-free roaming will continue during the transition period, but arrangements after that are dependent on the outcome of negotiations on the Future Economic Partnership.

It was also revealed that under the European Convention on Transfrontier Television, Irish channels TG4, RTE1 and RTE2 will still be broadcast into Northern Ireland.

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