Tempted to eschew aeroplanes and instead use your car to travel into Europe? If the answer’s yes, then it’s essential you know the rules for driving in any country you enter. After all, every country has its own specific rules and regulations that you won’t want to fall foul of.
If you’re planning on avoiding flying and taking your car to Europe for essential travel, please make sure you know the rules and regulations for driving in your chosen countries. These will include how to drive and also what you need to carry with you, along with emissions regulations which can change from city to city.
To avoid a hefty fine or worse, read through our comprehensive guide below, so when you look for cars for sale in UK to take abroad, you know what you’re doing.
The first thing you should check is the official Foreign Office travel advice guidance for all countries you set to visit or are driving through. Make sure you check both in good time and again just before you leave.
It’s worthwhile checking the UK government website to see the current demands on UK tourists post-Brexit. Currently you’re fine with a UK licence on you, but don’t rule out the need for an international driving permit or other documentation.
European speeding fines
Breakdown firm Green Flag suggests 81% of UK drivers aren’t aware of a potential £640 fine for speeding in Europe. Furthermore, 61% of those surveyed couldn’t convert kilometres per hour into miles per hour.
Many cars will have km/h in smaller numbers within the speedo, while those fitted with digital displays will usually allow you to change the readout to metric. Failing that, here’s a rough guide.
>> 50km/h – 30mph
>> 70km/h – 45mph
>> 80km/h – 50mph
>> 90km/h – 55mph
>> 100km/h – 60mph
>> 110km/h – 65mph
>> 130km/h – 80mph
Insurance for driving in Europe
Your policy might cover you with fully comprehensive in the UK, but in many cases this gets bumped down to third party on the continent. You’ll also find variations on the amount of time you’re covered for. While 30, 60 or even 90 days is common, some will cover you for as little as three days.
If you are involved in an accident, make sure you get plenty of pictures of the scene and damage. It’ll almost certainly make your claim for windshield repair, collision repair or other fixes your vehicle will require easier. For vehicle glass insurance claims, make sure to contact your car insurance company.
Breakdown cover for driving abroad
If you’ve already got breakdown cover, make sure it’s valid outside of the UK. If you don’t, consider getting some for the duration of your trip as it can cost thousands to recover a car.
We’d also recommend looking at the rules for breakdowns in countries you’ll drive through. For instance, in France you’re not allowed to use your phone to call for recovery, you need to use an orange emergency phone instead.
What do I need for driving in Europe?
Make sure you take your driving licence – both parts if you have them – and all your car’s documents. This includes your V5C and insurance documents. For many European countries, and all EU states, your UK licence should be adequate, but having an international driving permit (IDP) as well can give you additional peace of mind.
You can get an IDP from the Post Office; it costs £5.50 and lasts for 12 months. Visit the Post Office website for more details. Many European countries require a warning triangle and high-vis jacket with big fines for not having these.
Headlights when driving in Europe
Driving on the right means altering your headlights so you don’t dazzle other drivers. Check your car’s handbook as some can be adjusted using the infotainment while other (generally posh new) cars do it automatically.
If these aren’t an option, you’ll need beam converter stickers that’ll cost less than a tenner.
Penalties and on-the-spot fines when driving abroad
Don’t assume you’re immune from speed cameras when you’re abroad, the authorities will be able to gain your licence details thanks to cross-border enforcement. Penalties vary from country to country, with some such as France able to impose on-the-spotfines.
Speed camera detectors when driving in Europe
These are illegal in some countries, so we’d leave these at home. Similarly, apps that do this on your phone can also land you with a fine and a confiscated device
Low Emission Zones
More than 180 cities and towns in 10 European countries have these zones, or are set to launch them. Check the rules to avoid a hefty fine.
Motorway tolls and vignettes when driving in Europe
Some countries require a special sticker in your car, while others simply accept card or cash payments.
UK stickers for driving in Europe
Make sure you have a UK sticker clearly displayed on the back of your car.