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Guide to driving in Eurpoe

Motoring Abroad

Road Rules and Road Safety in the EU and U.K.

Before you drive abroad
you need to be familiar with the local rules for motor vehicle drivers.

These regulations relate to seatbelt laws, speed limits and headlight requirements as well as to drink driving laws and additional equipment you will be required by law to carry in your vehicle. have drafted the following information, that although as comprehensive as possible, should only be used as a reference guide and not regarded as full and complete. If you are uncertain of any driving and motoring laws please refer to the relevant country's local embassy for further information.

Very Important!

As of 01 July 2012 new French law demands that NF approved breathalysers must be carried by all drivers driving on any French road. No mercy will be shown to foreign drivers who are not aware of this law. A pair of NF approved breathalysers can be purchased here for just £4.99 (less than half what you will pay on the ferries!).


UK Driving Regualtions The use or possession of devices to detect police radar is illegal in all European countries and so are using Sat Nav devices with speed camera location warnings in France. Penalties can include a fine, driving ban or even prison! Driving Regulations in France From October 2008 all drivers in France, which includes drivers of vehicles registered outside of France, must have one warning triangle and one reflective jacket in their vehicle. Penalties are spot fines of between €90 - €135! EU Driving Regulations In Germany and some other EU countries the drink drive alcohol limit is zero. The German authorities enforce this so strictly that drivers who have used an alcohol based mouthwash shortly before being tested have been arrested!


Driving Abroad - Before You Go

Don't get lost when traveling abroad! If you use a GPS device for navigation when at home or driving abroad make certain that you have the latest maps loaded onto your GPS device before you leave home. To confirm you have most recent map or to download a new map for your GPS navigation device please click here.

Breakdown and Recovery Insurance. We advise that you take out suitable European breakdown cover and travel insurance that would also cover any medical expenses resulting from an accident. To find out more about your options for E.U. Breakdown & Recovery service please click here.

If you do not already have breakdown and recover insurance or if your existing insurance does not cover you outside of your country we suggest you take advantage of this offer from the AA for cover in both the UK and EU.

It is also extremely important that you:-

  • Check with your insurance company that you are insured to drive abroad
  • Check whether you need a Green Card / Visa for the country you are visiting
  • Check whether you need an International Driving Permit
  • Familiarise yourself with the driving laws of the countries that you are visiting
  • Service your vehicle before leaving the UK and at the very least check your oil and water
  • Check that your vehicle complies with the vehicle requirements of the countries that you will be visiting

For Travel Insurance only recommends Columbus Travel Insurance. Their insurance may cost one or two pounds more than other insurers but they have the highest level of cover and the lowest compulsory excess co-payments in event of a claim and this makes Columbus Holiday Insurance the best value for money. You are offered the choice of adding travel insurance when booking your ferry ticket at but if you prefer to buy directly from Columbus please click here.


Documents You Must Have With You

EU Drivers License

You must have all of the following documents with you when driving abroad. Failure to present them to traffic official on demand will result in a fine and may even have you parking your car on the roadside and walking!

  • A valid full driving licence (not provisional), with paper counterpart if you have a photocard licence. Please note that you will be required to hold a Full Drivers Licence valid during the full duration of your stay whilst driving abroad.

    You should also be aware that provisional licenses are only a national document and DO NOT ALLOW the holder to drive outside the territory of the issuing member state.

    Generally all UK / EU driving licenses should be accepted including the older Green Style licence. However if taking an old licence you will need to ensure you have photo I.D with you at all times. We suggest that prior to driving abroad you apply for the new style licence which incorporates photographic I.D.

  • The original vehicle registration document V5 and if you can't get hold of the V5 then we would recommend that you obtain a document called a Vehicle on Hire Certificate also known as the VE103b from your Post Office.

  • Your motor insurance certificate.

  • Your passport

Compulsory Equipment Required When Driving Abroad

EU Road Safety Kit

Before taking your car abroad you must make sure you have all the compulsory equipment such as safety triangle, first aid kit and a reflective high visibility vest that is required in most EU countries.

For your own safety we strongly recommend other safety equipment like spare headlamp bulbs and puncture repair aerosol when driving in the EU even when not required.

You may view a printable guide that provides full details of what you will need for each country to legally drive your car on roads abroad by clicking here.

EU Car Safety Kits may be purchased on all ferries but are far cheaper to buy before you travel from stores like Halfords. To order a car safety kit from Halfords online please click here.


Top Safety Tips When Driving Abroad

Be aware that when driving abroad you may find that the local driving style may be different to that you are used to back home. This advice is also important to you as a pedestrian.

Road Safety In Europe

  • Remember traffic may come from the opposite direction to what you expect and don't assume that all drivers will stop at zebra crossings - they don't!
  • Don't Drive when you are tired and take regular breaks, driving abroad can be more exhausting.
  • Always wear a seatbelt and ensure all passengers do.
  • Don't drink and drive, the amount of alcohol allowed in your blood stream may be lower than that in the UK and some countries have a zero tolerance for drink driving and you will go to prison.
  • Often when abroad you have lots of luggage, just make sure you do not overload your car, make sure you can see out of the back window. Remember you can always buy a roof box for your luggage.

Driving to Winter Resorts in Europe

Drivers can be fined in europe if it is found that they were involved in an accident where it was as a consequence of not adapting the vehicle for the weather conditions, such as winter tyros or even snow chains.

All vehicles driving on snow covered roads must have winter tyres (or all-season tyres marked M&S) during the winter period (from 1 November to 15 April) and also if roads have a covering of snow, slush or ice outside these dates. Tyres must have a minimum tread depth of 4mm.

Winter Driving in Europe

Snow tyres are not compulsory but vehicles not equipped to travel through snow and which impede traffic are liable to a fine.

From 1 December to the end of February unless otherwise indicated by road signs. Tyres must be marked M&S on the sidewall. Spiked tyres may be used from 1 November to the first monday after Easter.
As the weather cannot be predicted and because snow chains may not be used in slushy/icy conditions it is recommended that visitors fit winter tyres to their vehicle. Winter tyres (or 'all year' tyres) must bear the mark M&S or the snowflake symbol on the side wall.

Snow chains must be fitted on at least two drive wheels. In any country snow chains may only be used where there's sufficient snow covering to avoid any possibility of damage to the road surface. You may be find if damage is caused.arch for Swedish registered vehicles and trailers and also for foreign registered vehicles.

Winter tyres, marked M&S (with or without spikes), with a tread depth of at least 3mm are compulsory from 1 December until 31 March for Swedish registered vehicles and trailers and also for foreign registered vehicles.

If you are ever in way uncertain about your ability to drive safely in the snow and ice we suggest that you take advantage of one of the "snow trains" that will take you in both safety and comfort to your ski resort. To find our more about and book a ticket on the snow train please click here.

Winter Fuel Specifications are Different in Winter Resorts

Winter diesel fuel requirements are specific to each country but generally will be suited to operate down to at least -20C in the popular winter resort destinations, as opposed to UK winter diesel which is suited to -15C.


Don't Get Lost Abroad!

SatNav Map Updates fro TomTom and Garmin

If you do not already have one we suggest that you invest in one the latest TomTom sat nav devices. Not only will you not get lost but the new TomTom graphical interface is so much better and easier to follow than other sat nave devices costing twice the price. To purchase a new TomTom device or download the latest maps directly from TomTom who are offering customers as much as 40% discount please click here.

If you prefer to shop around and compare the TomTom to other sat nav devices like Garmin and Navman as well as TomTom from Halfords online please click here.


Customer Care, Telesales & Contact Us

Click Here to contact the customer care team at is part of the world's largest online ferry ticket distribution network providing the ability to book over 80 major European ferry operators, and over 1,200 ferry routes throughout the UK, France, Spain, Ireland, Holland, Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Baltic and North Africa.

At you are able to obtain live ticket prices, check availability and book car and passenger ferry tickets and we always offer you our lowest available ferry ticket price with no hidden extras at the time of booking.

For more information, answers to frequently asked questions or to contact us directly please click here.


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