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Road tripping in Europe? Here’s what you need to know

Road tripping in Europe? Here’s what you need to know


Zooming around some of the fantastically built and often empty roads they have in countries like France, Italy and Spain can be great fun.

But if you don’t familiarise yourself with the different rules and regulations involved with driving abroad, such as the documentation you need, drink-driving limits and insurance issues, your holiday could be soon be ruined.

Here are some of the more crucial things you need to know before setting off:

1.Driving licence – You can use your Great Britain (GB) or Northern Ireland driving licence in all EU or European Economic Area (EEA) countries, and Switzerland. However, just because you’re abroad doesn’t mean you can speed away – if you’re caught breaking the law,  the authorities can get the vehicle’s registered keeper’s details from the DVLA.

2.The V5c (Vehicle registration document) – As with your driving licence, the V5c needs to be the original, not a copy.

3. International Driving Permit – If you’re intending to drive outside the EU, you may need an International Driving Permit. These cost £5.50 and can be obtained from the AA, RAC or the Post Office.

4. Visas – Again, the need for a visa won’t apply within the EU, but may if you leave it; for instance driving from Estonia into Russia.

5. DVLA driver record – Some car hire firms require a copy of your DVLA driver record and a licence check code, which can be acquired before you go from the DVLA .

6. Drink-driving limits – Drink-driving limits vary from country to country and aren’t standardised in the EU. Many Brits get caught out each year, as in this country you can consume approximately a pint and a half of beer and still drive. In France it’s a bit less, for example, and in Germany a lot less. Check before you go .

7. Company, hired or borrowed vehicles – If you’re not the registered keeper of the car you’ll be driving abroad, you need a letter of authorisation from the person, or organisation, that is. This is in addition to the V5c or a Vehicle on Hire Certificate (VE103).

8. Drive on the correct side of the road – Perhaps most crucial of all, drive on the same side of the road as the locals! Some drivers find it useful to put something on the dashboard or wheel to remind them.

For more detailed specifics, country by country,  the AA has a great online rule-checker that’s free and very comprehensive for mainland Europe

Insurance and driving abroad

It’s unwise to assume your UK car insurance covers you for driving abroad; most policies have geographical limits, so it’s wise to check these before you go abroad.

A quick phone call to your insurer to tell them you’retaking your car abroad, or driving someone else’s can save a lot of hassle in the event of a claim. In many cases, European  cover is limited to 30 or 60 days, but cover can often be extended with just a phone call or quick online payment.

Don’t forget to take insurance documentation with you as in many countries it’s a legal requirement you have it.

Bon voyage!

Policy Expert

The customer service team at Policy Expert is always on hand to help – either online or over the phone. Whether you want assistance in finding the right policy or even handling a claim, we make sure it’s all handled by experts. For more information, you can call our experts on 0330 0600 600 or visit for more ways to reach us.


Published 21 June 2017