With the uncertainty of Brexit looming, if you’re planning a European road trip this summer, then it is important that you understand some of the differences between driving in the UK and driving in Europe.
Firstly, if you are heading to Europe and planning to drive, there are some essential documents that you need to make sure you have with you.
The documents you will need are:
- A full valid driving licence.
- Valid passport.
- Your V5C (vehicle logbook).
- Car Insurance documents (and ensure that this covers you for any countries you plan on travelling to).
- Breakdown Cover documents (again, ensure this covers you for European travel).
- If your car is more than 3 years old, a valid MOT certificate.
In addition to these essential documents, some European countries also require drivers to carry some basic equipment:
- If your car doesn’t have a GB number plate, you are required to display a GB sticker on your car.
- In some European countries, an Emissions sticker must be displayed. This can usually be purchased prior to your journey, online from the official state website of the area you are heading to. Failure to ensure you have this can result in large fines, so it is worth checking prior to your journey if you require one.
- If you are travelling to France, a breathalyser is compulsory.
- A warning triangle is compulsory in most European countries and in Spain, you will need two (one for the front and rear of your vehicle)!
- As they drive on the opposite side of the road in most European countries, headlamp beam deflectors are required, however, if your headlamps are manually adjustable, then you should be able to adjust these to avoid blinding other drivers.
- In some European countries, a first aid kit is compulsory, but even if it is not, it’s always worth having one in your car.
- If you are travelling to France or Spain for example, and you require glasses for driving, you will need to have a spare pair on your car.
- A reflective jacket for every traveller.
- If you are heading somewhere there is likely to be snow, in some European countries snow chains are required.
Driving a UK car in Europe
Even if you have driven in Europe before, it is always advisable to take extra care. Take your time and leave plenty of extra time when planning your journeys.
Be aware that Toll Roads are more common in Europe than the UK, therefore, it’s a good idea to ensure you have lots of loose change in the correct currency in your car.
Most European countries drive on the right, with a few exceptions such as Cyprus, Malta, and Ireland, therefore, bear in mind that if you are driving a UK car and not a hire car (from that country), then you will be driving on the opposite position to most European drivers.
Taking your time, particularly at junctions and roundabouts is essential to ensure that you are comfortable with where you are heading and that you stay on the right side of the road.
It’s only natural to feel nervous driving in a different country, but once you get to grips with the basics, it’s relatively straightforward. And like driving in the UK, all occupants of the vehicle must wear a seatbelt and the use of handheld mobile phones, without a hands-free facility, is strictly prohibited.
Driving in Europe after Brexit
At the moment, Brexit is still very unclear. However, there are a few things to note. After 29th March 2019, drivers may need to carry an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in the EU. You can apply for this at a participating Post Office for a small fee of £5.50. In order to obtain one of these you will need:
A Full valid UK driving licence – photocard or an older paper licence
A passport sized photograph – a recent true likeness of the applicant
The £5.50 application fee (cash or debit/credit card)
Your original valid passport as proof of identification, if presenting an older paper version licence
The Post Office will be able to advise as to which IDP you require depending on the country you are travelling to.
In the event of a ‘no deal Brexit’ then you may also be required to carry additional documentation such as a Motor Insurance Green Card - essentially international insurance certificates that prove your policy provides minimum cover. These are free, but you’ll need to contact your insurer at least a month beforehand to get one.
And finally, if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a road traffic accident in Europe following a ‘no deal Brexit’, then you are unlikely to be able to make a claim via the UK and instead may have to make a claim in the country the accident occurred in.
If you are heading to Europe this summer, enjoy your travels and stay safe on and off the roads!
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