Driving in Europe - what you need to know

Driving in Europe - what you need to know

Make sure you’re prepared for driving in Europe – find out what you'll need to take with you when you head out on the road.

It's a good idea to be prepared before you head off. Not only will you need to make sure you comply with the local driving laws, but you should also be ready in case you break down.

  • Warning triangle
    This is useful if you break down, and will alert other drivers to your presence if you’ve pulled up on the side of the road.
    Compulsory in: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Spain, and Switzerland.
    Recommended in: Germany, Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden.
  • Reflective jacket
    This provides maximum visibility in the event you break down on the side of a road and need to leave your vehicle. We would recommend always having one in your car.
    Compulsory in: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, France, Italy, Spain.
    Recommended in: Denmark, Norway Portugal and Sweden.
  • First aid kit
    Although only compulsory in two countries, we would recommend including one of these (as well as a dry powder fire extinguisher), wherever you are travelling.
    Compulsory in: Austria, Croatia.
    Recommended in: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Sweden.

Breathalysers in France
If you’re driving through France, you’ll also need to take a breathalyser with you, and it’s a good idea to purchase this before you leave. From March 2012, all drivers will need to have an unused, certified breathalyser carrying the French certification mark, NF.

It's always a good idea to have a satnav when travelling on unfamiliar roads. But you'll need to switch off any function which alerts you to the position of speed cameras. Equipment detecting speed cameras is now illegal throughout Europe and this includes any built in features on satnavs.

You’ll also need to make sure you have access to European maps on your satnav because some systems are automatically set up to include UK only maps.

Check the speed limit
You should see these signposted while you're on the road, but it's a good idea to make a note of the speed limits in all the countries you're planning to visit, just in case you miss the signs.

It's also important to remember that road signs will often be in kilometres per hour rather than miles per hour, as used in the UK.

Before you set off
Wherever you're heading in Europe, there are a few essentials you’ll need to take with you:

  • Check and print our top 10 tips.
  • A copy of your car insurance policy which covers driving in Europe. Remember to upgrade your existing insurance with foreign use cover – which will increase your level of cover to comprehensive in Europe.
  • Your vehicle registration documents.
  • A UK passport. It's also a good idea to check to see if you need a visa for any countries you plan to visit. Click here to see if you need a visa.
  • A GB sticker on your bumper or windscreen.
  • Headlamp convertors for your headlights (unless your car has adjustable headlights).

Don't forget - You might want to consider breakdown cover which includes driving in Europe, so you'll be covered if your car breaks down on the continent.

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