Driving Abroad

Finally the sun has broken through the clouds and you’re digging out the tent and packing the kids into the car heading towards Dover, but before you leave the UK you should be prepared and I don’t mean checking the Sat-Nav works in Europe.

There are many different driving laws across Europe so it’s a good idea to do your research before you head off.

When driving in Europe you may be asked to produce your documents at any time, so make sure they are readily available to avoid the risk of a police fine or even having your car taken away.

Driving abroad – Important Documents to take:
  • Valid full (not provisional) driving licence
  • Driving licence paper counterpart – if you have a photo card licence
  • An International Driving Permit (when necessary)
  • Vehicle registration document (V5c) – the original not a copy
  • Motor insurance certificate
  • Passport(s)
GB sticker:

Vehicle registration plateYou must display a GB sicker; failure to do so could result in an on-the-spot fine! If your car has number plates that include the GB euro-symbol it is unnecessary to display a sticker within the EU


Breathalysers in France:

Early this year the French government confirmed that drivers of all motor vehicles and motorcycles (excluding mopeds) must carry a breathalyser. You can pick them up fairly cheaply and even order them online. Prices vary, but the cheapest we found was £2 from a popular online retailer.

Roadsigns Cars4girlsRoad signs:

Most road signs are the same across Europe, but nevertheless you can still be caught out! Signs in city centres can be confusing, especially if you’re a little nervous. They can indicate restricted zones or vehicle restrictions.

The best thing to do is refresh your memory before you go. Visit gov.uk to see what signs correspond with the UK and which ones do not. 

Speed Limits

Speed limits vary so always double check and obey all speed signs.


The legal requirement is ‘not to dazzle oncoming drivers’, so adjust the beam pattern to suit driving on the right, so that the dipped beam doesn’t dazzle oncoming drivers.

Consider this a warning:

Touring KitMany countries require visiting motorists to carry a warning triangle, reflective jacket and fire extinguisher, but it’s always a good idea to carry these items wherever you’re going.

Does anyone have a plaster?

We would always recommend carrying a first aid kit in your car, so when driving abroad we think it’s an essential.

In an emergency who you gonna call?

Always inform your insurance company that you’ll be driving in Europe and make sure you have European breakdown cover, not forgetting to take the details of this cover and who to call should you break down.

112 is the European emergency call number and you can dial this anywhere in the European Union in case of accident, assault or in any other distress situation.

And finally did you know driving abroad…

That in Scandinavia it is illegal to drive without headlights on, even during the day.

If you wear glasses and you plan to drive in Spain you’ll need to carry an additional pair.

Whilst in Germany it is illegal to drive without winter tyres at certain times of the year!

In Russia, if you see people walking along the side of the road, don’t be tempted to give them a lift to the next town, it’s forbidden to pick up hitchhikers.

And if you’re driving in Belarus and notice how clean everyone’s car…it’s because it’s actually illegal to drive a dirty car!