Driving Abroad: What you need to know

Wednesday 14th July 2021

Planning on taking the car to Europe this year? Make sure you’re aware of the rules of the road for each country you’re visiting to make sure you have a smooth journey and avoid any unnecessary fines.

If you’re taking your car away for less than 12 months, UK law still applies. That means that you need to make sure that:

  • You have valid insurance
  • Your vehicle is taxed
  • You have a current MOT, if applicable​

Before you go

As with any long journey, make sure you give your car a thorough check over before you set off. Make sure you check tyre pressure and condition, make sure windscreen wipers are working, top up fluids and pack any essential kit.  It’s worth checking if your breakdown cover is valid in Europe and if not, consider taking an extra policy to make sure you’re covered.

The rules of the road are different in each country so it’s important to research the rules of your destination, and each country you pass through, before you set off. For example, if you’re travelling through Austria between November and April you must have adapted your vehicle for the weather. This means the fitting of winter tyres or all season tyres marked M&S (mud and snow). Similar rules apply in Germany.

Remember in most countries you’ll be driving on the right hand side of the road which can take a bit of getting used to. You’ll approach roundabouts in the opposite direction and the way traffic lights work can be different. Take some time to familiarise yourself with your route and take it steady until you’re comfortable.

Essential driving kit

If you’re driving in Europe there are some key documents that you need to have with you and some kit that you’re expected to carry. Each country has different rules but here’s our list of the essentials:

    • A valid, full driving licence
    • Motor insurance certificate
    • A V5C or VE103 certificate
    • Air Quality Certificate (AQC)
    • GB Car Sticker

Download your free checklist here >

Remember, because of Covid-19 you might also need to fill in new entry forms, take a test or even quarantine when entering some countries in Europe this year. Stay up-to-date with all the latest advice on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.