Most motorcycle insurance issued in the US and Canada covers only travel in their respective countries.  Some will allow you to add the opposite country if requested.  But if you are shipping your non-European registered motorcycle to Europe and you intend to ride it there, you will need to purchase “Green Card” insurance.  It is mandatory for all non-European Union motorists and is may also be required in other surrounding countries.

ADVRider writer Egle’s Gerulaityte’s articles on Balkan Border Crossings and Motorcycle Shipping From South America to Europe touched on green card insurance.  In this article, we’ll get a little more in-depth.

What it does

The Green Card’s purpose is to ensure that the holder has at least the minimum amount of liability insurance required by each country participating in the Green Card System.  It does not cover damage to your bike or theft.

Presently, 48 Member States (i.e. countries) participate in the Green Card system.  The Council of Bureaux (COB) organizes and manages the system which has two objectives:

  • To facilitate the crossing of borders
    • A green card ensures that you do not need to obtain insurance at each of the borders of the 48 participating member countries.
  • To facilitate claims settlements
    • By ensuring that 3rd party victims of road traffic accidents are not negatively affected if they sustain injuries or damage caused by a motorist that is not from the country where the accident occurred.

If there is an accident, the COB will coordinate the activities of the different National Motor Insurer’s Bureau (i.e. the insurance bureaus of the member countries) that are members of the Green Card system.

When an accident does occur the victim of the accident may bring a claim in their own nation and receive compensation for damages.  Once a victim brings a claim, a “Claims Representative” will be appointed.  The Claims Representative then works with the victim to settle the claim.

What are the duties of the Claims Representative?

The Claims Representative is responsible for handling and settling claims for a road traffic accident that occurred in another Member State by a victim who is resident in the Member State where s/he has been appointed.

In that context, the Claims Representative collects all necessary information for the settlement of the claims and takes all the required measures to negotiate the claims.

The Claims Representative will provide the victim with an offer of compensation within three months of the demand or provide a reasoned reply when an offer is not possible.

The reasoned reply shall address the points made in the claim when liability is denied, not clearly determined or the damages have not been fully quantified.

Should an offer or a reasoned reply not be provided in the deadline set:

  • Victims have the right to bring their claim to the Compensation Body of their Member State of residence;
  • Sanctions could be applied in accordance with the national law of the Member State in which the insurer who appointed the Claims Representative is registered.

Where is Green Card insurance effective?

The Green Card insurance system is primarily but not exclusively a European system. It presently includes most European Countries: all Member States of the European Economic Area (EEA) – i.e. the 28 Member States of the European Union (EU) – plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.  Several countries in the Middle East and bordering the Mediterranean Sea also actively participate in the system.

The countries presently participating in the Green Card system are as follows:

Note: We’ve linked the listing of countries to information about the organizations that service claims.

Coverage map

The below map shows the countries participating in the Green Card System with blue, green or tan colors. Blue identifies countries that are part of the European Economic Area, Green countries have joined the COB system and tan countries do not require a green card.  It’s important to note that certain disputed territories within a country may or may not participate in the Green Card system.  COB’s website defines which territories that may not participate in the green card system.

The countries shown in blue, green, and tan participate in the Green Card system. Image credit: CoB

You can visit the COB’s interactive map for additional information.

How do I get green card insurance?

So now that you’ve determined that you need/want green card insurance, how do you get it?  A Green Card can only be provided by an insurance agency specifically authorized to issue it.  Because of the reach of the internet, obtaining it is much easier than it used to be.  Purchases do not need to be made in person and the entire transaction can be completed online.

You will have to provide copies of certain documents like the motorcycle’s title/registration information and some self-certifications.  Scanned documents are acceptable.

An insurance agency may provide insurance for one or many countries.  Therefore, it’s important to tell the agency which countries you plan to travel to and have them included in your policy.

Below is a sample automobile Green Card form issued by Mototouring SRL.  Note that this sample did not provide coverage for the 15 countries that were crossed out on the form.  It is very important that you check the countries you are insured for by checking the Green Card.

A sample Green Card form issued by Mototouring. Note that there is a list of abbreviated country names in Box 8. If a country’s abbreviation is “X” out, then you do not have insurance for that country. It’s very important to check that your Green Card gives you insurance for each country you plan to visit. Image credit: Mototouring SRL.

What does Green Card insurance cost?

The price varies widely based upon the length of time your motorcycle is to be covered.  Most companies will insure you for a period of days up to 3 months.  Some will insure you for up to a year.

It’s best to shop around as prices vary widely even for identical coverage for the same bike.  Two years ago, I purchased green card insurance for my Ducati Desert Sled for 90 days.  Costs ranged from ~$900 to $253 USD.

A Google search can provide you with several agencies that can issue Green Card insurance for North America riders.

Doing a quick search, I was able to find these agencies:

Note: is and does not endorse any of the above companies.  None of them have paid to list them.  The above list is solely for the convenience of the reader.


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