Driving abroad: a guide

Sam Bisby

By: Sam Bisby

As exciting as it can be to have a driving holiday abroad, some may be slightly nervy about driving on roads in another country.

Other nations often have different rules of the road to us in the UK and it is important that you adhere to them. It is also vital that you carry the correct documentation and the relevant equipment. Here’s a quick guide to help you prepare for driving abroad.

What to take: documents

Valid full driving licence

Counterpart driving licence

Vehicle registration document (V5c)

MOT certificate

Motor insurance certificate - if you travel with your motor insurance certificate you usually don’t need a Green Card as this is proof of minimum card however some insurers issue a Green Card anyway.

Passport(s)

Travel insurance documents

European Health Insurance (EHIC) card - The EHIC card allows you to get healthcare at a reduced cost or even sometimes free in European countries and Switzerland.

If you are visiting a country outside of the European Union, you may be required to apply for an International Driving Permit (IDP). Please check before travelling.

What to take: equipment

Warning triangles - you may be required to carry a warning triangle just in case of breakdowns as these are required in the majority of European countries.

A vignette - Used in Austria, the Czech Republic and Switzerland, a vignette is a tax disc used instead of motorway tolls.

An approved self-breathalyser test - If you are travelling to France, all motor vehicles are required to carry a breathalyser.

A spare pair of spectacles (if applicable) - In Spain, you are required to carry a pair set of glasses if you wear them.

High-vis vest - It is compulsory to carry a high vis vest when driving in many European countries and in some countries every vehicle passenger needs to have a high vis vest too.

First aid kit/spare light bulbs/fire extinguisher

GB Euro sticker - You must display a GB euro-symbol in European countries.

Adjust headlamp beams - You must adjust the beam headlight pattern so it doesn’t dazzle oncoming drivers.

Car tools - It is essential you take the important car tools with you in case of emergency.

Tips for driving abroad

Learn the rules – it is very common for other countries to have different road rules to our own, so make sure you research how to adhere to such regulations to keep safe and out of trouble.

Check your car insurance - you should check your car insurance to make sure it covers you driving abroad specifically in the countries you are planning to visit. Car insurance abroad will cover the countries you will be visiting.

Check your car’s MOT certificate – ensure it is valid for the time you are away and for the time you get back. If the MOT isn’t valid, make sure you have your car serviced and MOT updated before you go away.

Using a hand held mobile phone while driving is prohibited in many countries. These countries include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Turkey, France, Greece, Germany, Slovakia, Russia, Ireland and Italy. The safe rule if you are going to drink is to not drive. The laws in European countries are stricter than the UK and the penalties are severe.

You should sort out your sleeping situation before you set off so you know how far you need to travel to get your next destination; look at your route and the time it will take to get to your destination and work out where would be best to stop for the night if you have to.

Plan your route before you set off to ensure you don’t get lost on the way to your destination; this will also help you avoid traffic jams. You should drive carefully when driving abroad as you will probably be driving on the opposite side of the road and in different conditions. Remember to keep your personal belongings with you or in a safe place. If you are requiring assistance in an emergency, you can call the European emergency call number.