European Car Insurance Cover for UK Registered Cars

The small print: Portugalist may generate a commission from mentioned products or services. This is at no additional cost to you and it does not affect our editorial standards in any way. All content, including comments, should be treated as informational and not advice of any kind, including legal or financial advice. The author makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors or omissions or damages arising from its display or use. Links to external websites do not constitute an endorsement. [More Info]

Published: October 2016 & Last Updated: June 2022

This is part of a series of posts on driving in Portugal. Other posts in this series discuss buying a left hand drive car in the UK and long-term European breakdown cover for UK Reg cars. This post discusses British car insurance companies that will cover you for a long term stay in Europe.

UK reg cars can only be insured through a British car insurance company. Portuguese car insurance companies won’t insurance a UK registered car (and vice versa).

The challenging part is that car insurance companies tend to limit the amount of time that they’ll cover a car that’s outside the UK. Most UK companies only provide European cover for up to 90 days, which is too short for most expats living in Portugal. Thankfully we’ve managed to find a few companies that offer up to six month’s cover and some that even offer year-long cover in Europe.

6 Months

The following UK car insurance companies offer 180 days European cover. You will need to return to the UK for another six months before you can drive outside of the UK again. If you’re only visiting Portugal for a few months of the year, this is probably going to be cheaper than going through a specialist expat insurance company that offers 365 day cover.

LV= – Offers car insurance for all ages and it’s easy to buy online. European cover for trips up to 180 days in length is included with your policy.

AgeUK – Like Saga, AgeUK offer car insurance for over 50s. Unlike Saga, however, their cover is only for 180 days instead for 365.

Note: Pay attention to the small print. Some companies offer medium to long term European cover but have limits on the length of an individual trip. Aviva, for example, offer 180 days European cover but have a single trip limit of 90 days. This means you would have to come back to the UK half-way through your trip.

12 Months

The following UK car insurance companies offer 365 days European cover.

Saga – If you’re over 50, one of the benefits is that you qualify for Saga car insurance and Saga very kindly allow you to drive within Europe for an unlimited time period at no extra cost. Saga is the only household name car insurance company that offers this length of cover. With an easy-to-use website, it’s also the easiest company to buy car insurance through.

Stuart Collins – A specialist car insurance broker that focus on long term European cover, Stuart Collins are a well-known broker within the expat community. Their policy covers you for 365 days within Europe and an annual green card is included with the coverage papers.

To start your policy, you will need to create a quote online and then send them through a fax (which is often a challenge in this day and age). Otherwise, they’re easy to work with and you just need to phone up once a year to pay your insurance by card over the phone (web payment isn’t an option).

Insurance policies aren’t cheap but if you’re under 50 and planning on staying in Europe for longer than six months, it could be your only option.

Brexit update: Stuart Collins have said that their policy is the same (12 months European and UK cover) despite Brexit. Obviously, there may be restrictions on how long you personally can stay in the Schengen Area. Unless you have an EU passport, it’s likely that you’ll only be able to spend 90 days in every 180 days. Stuart Collins also covers countries outside of the Schengen Area like Bulgaria and Romania should you need to leave the Schengen Area but not want to come back to the UK.

Abbeygate Insurance – Offers European car insurance to over 30s living in Portugal (and the UK, Spain, Gibraltar, and Cyprus).

Ibexinsure – Offer British car insurance to expats living in Portugal, Spain, and Gibraltar.

Chosen your car insurance? Don’t forget you’ll need long-term European breakdown cover as well. 


Share this article

Leave a Comment


  1. Hi,

    I’m residing in France, have French registered car and insurance with Allianz. However, the breakdown cover help line is in French and I don’t know enough French to navigate and give instruction as a breakdown situation.
    What can I do?? Any suggestions welcome!


  2. Moving to Portugal Made Simple is now available on Amazon
  3. I can't find anyone to help......I want to return to UK soon with my Ford Transit. However, it's not registered in UK or Portugal. Yes, chassis number insurance is fine when I get back to UK but I need some kind of insurance to get me from Portugal to Bilbao, Spain to get on the boat. Yes, I can put it on a trailer but I want to drive it. No Portuguese companies will help (so far).....any suggestions please ?

  4. i am moving to Lisbon from UK and i want to get a 1 year insurance for my UK resisted car please anyone can advise me on this

    • Hi Ashley,

      There are only a handful of companies (like Saga and Stuart Collins) that do 365 days European car insurance. Keep in mind that Brexit happens at the end of the year and who knows what affect that'll have on policies.

  5. Hi,

    I want to buy a left hand drive car in UK, but car is currently has Belgium plate. I want to drive the car to Portugal, do you know any way to insurance the car without register in UK first, so I can drive to Portugal and register there? Thanks


    • Hi Jose,

      If you're buying from a specialist LHD dealer (there are a few in the UK) it's a good idea to contact them and ask as they probably know. When I was buying a LHD in the UK I remember seeing a lot of cars from other EU countries, so it's going to be something that they're familiar with.

      Otherwise, there are a few specialist insurance companies offering "chassis number insurance" which seems to be what you're looking for

      Be sure to ask if you're covered for driving within Europe as well. Most UK car insurance companies offer a minimum of 90 days per year and some offer as much as 6+ months, but it's important to check.

      Note: I don't have experience with any of them so I can't recommend any particular company, but hopefully this will point you in the right direction.

      Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now

  6. Moving to Portugal Made Simple is now available on Amazon
  7. Im looking for both insurance and bk down long term in Portugal
    Im in between countries so atm Im a resident of planet Earth without borders!
    Intriqued by this scenario with Saga (and looking for cover that will remain cover!) I just called them.
    I almost bought bkdown but then asked him to clarify the remaks Id seen here about the situation of being UK resident and the insurance becoming invalid after a certain time away...

    So basically
    If you insure your UK car as a UK resident and then spend longer than 180 days out of uk - they will question whether or not you still a UK citizen - obviously you will have to prove you are to still be insured - eg trips bak to uk, work in uk, address in uk - if you can't prove this - then your insurance will be invalid

    The same applies to the breakdown cover!!!
    So altho they say they will provide it for a year - if you've been out of the UK for more than 180 days - they will ask you why and question if you are still a UK citizen - if you cant prove it - your bkdown cover will also be invalid!

    What a saga!!
    Tchaui saga!

    • That does sound like a lot of hassle that you don't want to be going through!

      Stuart Collins are worth looking at. They're tailor-made for expats so they're more likely to meet your needs.

      I'm also speaking with a company at the moment that offer residential addresses in the UK for expats so that they can continue receiving important mail (bank cards, etc). I'm not sure if that's enough to prove to a company like Saga that you're a resident of the UK, but I think having an address would lead to fewer companies questioning it.

      Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now

  8. Im confused Paul. If you are re registering the car in Portugal why do you need UK insurance and why will it be UK registered also? Surely you only need insurance and registering n one county. Why not import the car and reregister it- -pay one insurance..

  9. Hi
    Reference to all the comments regarding SAGA.
    Be very aware that if you have SAGA insurance you must be UK resident.
    We have just moved to Portugal, insurance taken out with SAGA when we were in UK and UK resident, phoned SAGA to check insurance still good while we set up in Portugal and have car UK registered. They cancelled our policy with immediate affect. Good job we were not making a claim !!!!!
    Now got to find a UK based insured for a UK registered car and drivers being Portuguese resident, there seems to be some doing this. However car has to be re-registered in Portugal and then re-insured with a Portuguese insurance company when it has its Portuguese number plates.
    All I can see at the moment is insurance companies making a lot of money out of me.

      • I would personally advice against Stuart Collins, I was with them last year and this year found them so unprofessional and had some terrible communication with Stuart himself, constantly chasing them to just try and renew my policy

        • Hi Chloe,

          Thanks for your review. That's really helpful to have your feedback.

          I know they're a very small and quite old-fashioned operations (I had to send them information by fax), but I found them pleasant to deal with otherwise.

  10. I am looking for Breakdown cover for my 35 year old motorhome which will go more than 90 days as I am coming to Portugal for 6 months...any ideas

    • Hi Susanne,

      As far as I know motorhome insurance is less restrictive, and vehicles are often covered for 365 days in Europe.

      All of the following insurance companies offer 365 days European cover, for example:

      Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now

  11. Moving to Portugal Made Simple is now available on Amazon
  12. Hi all!
    I am a resident of Republic of Ireland. I am thinking of buying a used car in the UK for a 5 month trip to Spain. As a non UK resident will I be able to get insurance?
    Any information about this would be very appreciated. Thank you

    • Hi Peter,

      I'm not sure. There are only a handful of insurance companies that cover trips of 5 months. I'd recommend asking a company like LV and also a broker like Stuart Collins. The latter might be more expensive, but they're usually very helpful on the phone.

      Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now

      • Hello, I am 28 years ago looking to stay in Europe (Belgium) for around a year- does anybody know of any insurers that would insure for 365 days? I don’t mind driving back and forth every few months.

        Any advice would be much appreciated

        • Hi Kimmi,

          I went with Stuart Collins before, and they will cover you for 365 days. They are expensive, but they seem like a nice company (and also you don't really have many other options).

          The one thing you'll need to look into, however, is whether your insurance will still be valid if you keep a UK-registered car in another EU country (e.g. Belgium) for more than 6 months. As I understand it, you're supposed to import it after 6 months.

          Stuart Collins don't ask, but it's worth knowing as it could be an issue if you have an accident.

          Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now

  13. I have just had a Quote on line from the AA. for 364 days breakdown cover it was . That what was stated in there policy PDF . May be it worthy updating you site . I hope this is of help

  14. SAGA have just sent renewal documents with ‘changes’ from the last policy.

    In regard to European cover, they state a trip during the period of cover to Europe, must commence and end in the U.K. “We may ask for proof of this”

    Since a accident in Europe would necessarily precede a return to U.K., the policy would seem to be invalidated by it.

    I have gone off SAGA.

  15. Hi, I just rang Saga's Call Centre about a quote for car insurance and the agent said that as a UK citizen they expect you to spend the majority of the year resident in the UK, i.e. 183 days or more, which seems to invalidate any notion of 365 day European cover.
    It might be a different story if you have a current policy with them, although another post did suggest they have a lot of loopholes they can use to avoid paying claims.
    Regards, Rod.

  16. Moving to Portugal Made Simple is now available on Amazon
  17. Hi all. Like the comments but not enough of them. Anyone out there know of a good AFFORDABLE long term (365) car insurance for Bulgaria together with long term breakdown cover?

    • Hi Mike,

      I don't know if it exists. Car insurance that covers European travel for more than 180 days is extremely rare, and only 1-2 UK companies offer it (Stuart Collins and seemingly Saga). Stuart Collins definitely isn't cheap, but since they're one of the few people offering this I guess they can charge a premium. Maybe they're taking on a lot of risk as well and it's justified. I don't know.

      Also, as far as I know, if you bring a car into another EU country you're supposed to import it after six months. You would need to check with someone like Stuart Collins whether your insurance would cover you if you stayed in one country for the full 365 days.

      Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now

  18. What will happen after Brexit if UK insurance companies have not secured passporting rights? Will my UK insurance become invalid? This may come as early as 30th March 2019.

    • Hi Sue,

      It's all a mess at the moment, and I don't think anyone knows. At the moment there's a 50% chance we'll end up with something sane that resembles what we have now, and a 50% chance everything will go to pot. It's really impossible to say at the moment. Hopefully, it'll be the former and not the latter.


      Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now

  19. Hi,
    Just had a conversation with Saga and have been assured that the person who sent me the email regarding returning to the UK for one day as per my previous post had not fully understood what I was asking for. Saga state unequivocally that they will cover for the whole 365 days.
    Sorry for any confusion.



  20. Hi,
    I am looking for long term car insurance quotes Portugal and have had three phone calls and a confirmation email from Saga where they state they DO NOT provide 365/unlimited European cover (contrary to their adverts). What they state is that you must be a UK citizen and you must return to the UK after six months for at least one day to ensure continuing coverage. Please do not think that you have an automatic 12 month cover for Europe as it would appear you get 364 days allowing for the one day return. In addition get their definition of 'six months' and 'one day'. There are a lots of loopholes for them to wriggle through in the event of a claim. Regards, Paul

    • Hi Paul,

      I've spoken to Saga and asked them to clarify this and they say that they do provide 365 days cover (I specifically asked if there was any need to return to the UK during the 365 days).

      I'll try and get my hands on a policy document to look at the wording, and see if there's any mention of trip length.


      Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now