Here’s a checklist of what you should take with you when driving in Europe.
You need to carry your UK driving licence with you when you drive in Europe. You won’t need an international driving permit (IDP) to visit and drive in the EU, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein.
You may need an IDP to drive in some EU countries and Norway if you have an old-style paper driving licence or a licence that was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man. An IDP costs £5.50 at the Post Office.
Proof of vehicle insurance and breakdown cover
Your proof of insurance should include your insurer’s name and your policy number. You should also take note of your insurer’s emergency numbers.
The same goes for European breakdown cover – take all the details with you.
Vehicle registration documents
If you’re taking your vehicle to the EU for less than 12 months, you should take your vehicle log book (V5C). If you are driving a hired or leased vehicle abroad, take the VE103 to show you’re allowed to drive the car.
You must display the UK identifier when driving a UK-registered vehicle abroad. If your number plate includes the UK identifier with the Union Jack flag, you don’t need a UK sticker.
But you will need to display a UK sticker clearly on the rear of your vehicle if your number plate has a GB identifier with the Union Jack flag; a Euro symbol; a national flag of England, Scotland or Wales; or just numbers and letters with no flag identifier.
If you drive in Spain, Cyprus or Malta, you need to display a UK sticker no matter what is on your number plate.
You need to carry certain equipment when driving in Europe. Exactly what is required varies from country to country, but it’s advisable to take it all to be on the safe side.
You need to keep the following in your car:
- Reflective jackets for each passenger
- Warning triangle
- Headlamp beam deflectors (or be able to adjust the beam manually)
- Safety helmets for mopeds and motorbikes
- First aid kit
Do your research
Before you set off for Europe, read up on the local driving laws. Most people driving in Europe will enter via France, so it’s important to understand the French rules, even if it’s not your final destination.
Remember that only four countries in Europe drive on the left – the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Malta and Cyprus. Everyone else drives on the right. Some European countries have motorway toll roads, so read up on how much they cost and how to pay before you set off.
More than 200 cities in 10 countries across Europe have Low Emission Zones (LEZ) where the most polluting vehicles are either banned or charged a fee. Before you go, check out where these LEZs are, which types of vehicles they affect, which emissions standards are required and whether registration is required. Some LEZ schemes only affect vans and lorries, but some in France, Germany and Italy also affect cars.
Based in New York, Stephen Freeman is a Senior Editor at Trending Insurance News. Previously he has worked for Forbes and The Huffington Post. Steven is a graduate of Risk Management at the University of New York.