Driving abroad unlocks a new level of freedom and allows you to create a tailored experience of your destination. Whether you’re hoping to explore the coast or city-hop, there is so much to see when driving abroad. To get the most out of driving in Europe it’s important to consider that driving on the different side of the road and following road signs in another language can take you outside of your comfort zone. This is why it’s extra-helpful to be prepared and aware of what you need to make the transition as smooth as possible! Our driving abroad checklist is here to serve you as a guide to driving safely on the continent.
Before you travel
Preparation is key and there are a number of things you must have in order before you embark on your trip. These are things that will be difficult to arrange once you’re on the road, so it’s essential that you’re organised before you go.
Some small but key things to remember before driving in Europe include:
Making sure your vehicle’s tax and MOT are valid and up-to-date
Checking if you need a Crit'Air vignette (clean air sticker) if you’ll be driving in France. A Crit’Air vignette is necessary in almost all major cities. To find out if you require one, explore the information here and purchase one from the official site here.
Fitting your toll tag correctly
Before travelling to Europe by car, there are certain documents you’ll need to have within easy access at all times. To keep everything in one place, buy a document wallet you can fit in the glove box while you’re on the road. These documents include:
Full, valid driving licence and your national insurance number
Proof of your vehicle’s insurance
The V5C certificate for your vehicle
Proof of ID – your passport will be fine
Travel insurance documents
Policy number and documents for European Breakdown Cover
Inevitably, there will be changes to driving in Europe after Brexit is completed. These changes will be clearer at the time, but there is a chance you will need the following to drive to Europe, depending on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.
International Driving Permit (IDP) for all EEA countries (excluding the Republic of Ireland). These can be purchased at Post Offices for £5.50 and will need to be carried alongside your UK driving licence. There are a variety of different IDPs for different countries:
1926 IDP - driving in Liechtenstein
1949 IDP - driving in Spain, Iceland, Malta, Cyprus
1968 DP - all other EU countries, Norway and Switzerland
An insurance green card from your insurance company as proof of third party motor insurance cover for driving in the EU, EEA, Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland.
The UK doesn’t always require these items, but to drive legally in Europe, you will need to invest in the following equipment.
Reflective Hi-Viz jackets for every passenger, accessible in the car’s cabin
Headlamp beam deflectors – either in the form of deflector stickers or by adjusting the beam on your lights
Breathalyser (compulsory in France)
Hazard warning triangle (mandatory in most countries)
First aid kit (compulsory in Austria, France and Germany)
GB car sticker, if your number plate isn’t a GB Euro variety
Snow chains or winter tyres, depending on the season
These items are optional but the RAC recommends them for safety reasons. If you aren’t familiar with the language of the country you are travelling in, you won’t want to get stranded! It’s worth bearing in mind which of these items will help you feel confident when driving abroad.
Replacement lamp bulbs
Spare fuel can
Engine oil and water reserves
Refreshments and plenty of water
Photocopies of important documents
European Health Insurance card
We hope this european driving checklist helps you feel more confident about what you require to drive abroad safely. For more information about driving in Europe, please read our guide to getting to France by car. You can also buy your toll tag here.