driving abroad - the adult bible

Driving abroad in EU countries

This guide covers everything you need to know and pack when driving abroad…

Most of Europe has the same rules with minor variations between countries, but generally, the below covers all.

The documentation you’ll need to have with you;

  • Driving license (mandatory in most countries)
  • Proof of Insurance (firstly you will likely need to extend your insurance to cover use in Europe, secondly, it’s a good idea to take a copy of it, or have evidence of it on your smartphone)
  • Logbook (optional, but handy to have maybe a photocopy or a photograph on your phone)

Items that the law requires you to carry when driving in a car abroad in most of Europe:

  • Reflective warning triangle – To put out behind the car if it breaks down
  • A reflective jacket or tabard – Just in case you break down and have to get out of the vehicle. You must carry one for each person in the vehicle
  • First Aid kit (full list of what to include here)
  • Headlight stickers – As you are on the other side of the road, if you don’t put stickers on the headlights they will dazzle oncoming cars, headlights shine away from the oncoming traffic on home roads
  • GB sticker – Available from most hardware stores
  • Single-use breathalyser kit – You have to be able to produce this and prove you are sober enough to drive, so you need to carry at least two (in case they ask you to use one). The limit in the UK is 80mg/100ml alcohol/blood levels, it is said that 4-5 units of alcohol in the UK or two pints is a safe limit. Most of Europe (and Scotland) however is 50mg/100ml alcohol/blood level, and zero alcohol if you are under 21

Things you must have when travelling on a motorcycle in most of Europe:

All the things you have for the car plus;

  • Helmet
  • Gloves

Things you may need (not compulsory but highly recommended);

  • Spare light bulbs
  • Snow chains or winter tyres (if you’re going up mountains in winter)
  • Spare wheel or tyre repair kit
  • Money for tolls (very common across Europe)

Other things to bear in mind for driving in most of Europe:

– Low Emission Zones

Many European cities now insist on a sticker to show the emissions of your car and you need to prove it to enter their cities. The sticker is normally available over the internet and will depend on the rating of your car. For example, if you have a modern electric vehicle it’s likely you’ll be able to go anywhere, however if your car is a 15-year old diesel you will need to get clarification on the emissions levels.

They vary a little in colour and design by country, so if you are planning to travel in and out of any major cities, its best to check up online what they require. 

– Fines

Most of European traffic police have the powers to fine you on the spot for not adhering to any of the above, and these fines can range from 50-750 Euros.

– Seat belts

In most European countries seat belts must be worn front and back.

Countries outside of Europe, 

Check with the AA website for specific country details, whether you are hiring a car or travelling in your own.