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Taking Your Car Abroad: What You Need to Know

Posted on 21st September 2022
Taking Your Car Abroad: What You Need to Know

You may be looking at heading abroad, maybe for a family holiday, or a work trip. Maybe a romantic getaway is on the cards.

Before you go making plans for what you hope to do upon arrival though, it would be worth noting the rules and regulations for where you are planning to go.

The rules can change by country so it is always worth double checking before setting off as things can change.

Some countries require you to hold a certain permit, others require certain equipment to be kept within your vehicle. There are some that require certain stickers to illustrate things about your vehicle. You may also need to do certain things if you have a caravan or trailer.

So, keep reading if you want to find out what you need to do when taking your car abroad.

What do I need if driving in Europe?

If you are heading to the continent there are some rules that vary country by country, but there are some things you must take no matter which country you are visiting. Since August 2nd, 2021, you no longer need a Green Card, or International Motor Insurance Card if you are travelling in the EEA, an area that consists of all EU nations plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Switzerland. You will though still need to make sure you don’t forget:

  • Your insurance certificates
  • Your log book
  • Your driving licence

What if I am driving outside of these areas?

If you have travelled further afield, you will need some additional documents to ensure you do not fall foul of any requirements the country has for foreign drivers. You should always make sure you always have the following on you. Failure to do so could result in huge fines:

  • Your driving licence
  • A copy of your DVLA driver record
  • The vehicle registration document (also known as a V5c)
  • Insurance certificate
  • An IDP (international driving permit) if necessary for the country
  • A Green Card
  • Your passport
  • Travel insurance documents
  • A visa, if necessary for the country you are travelling.

What do I need in my car when driving abroad?

Aside from the documents listed earlier, there are a few items you will need to keep you compliant with road safety laws. Again, these can differ per country.

Since 28th September 2021, you no longer need to display a GB sticker, you will need a UK sticker instead. If your vehicle number plate shows any of the following, then you must make sure a UK sticker is applied:

  • The Euro symbol
  • A national flag of England, Scotland or Wales
  • Letters and numbers with no flag or identifier
  • A union flag with a GB marker

There are some counties where no matter what is displayed on the number plate you will still need the UK sticker. This tends to be the case for countries outside of the EU and a small number from within, including Spain, Cyprus and Malta.

If though, your number plate shows a Union flag marker that includes the UK symbol, you will not need a sticker to be displayed.

Reflective jackets

Most countries will require these, some though do not. To be safe, we would always advise having one just in case rules were to change. It is suggested though that you pack two (one for driver, one for passenger) and they must be worn as soon as you step out of the vehicle should there be a breakdown. The UK government website has information for all countries should you need clarification.

Warning triangles

A warning triangle will help alert other road users and the breakdown crew of your location. It should not be placed right next to the vehicle as oncoming traffic will not have time to avoid hitting your car, or even worse, you. Instead, place it about 45m from your car. Pack one or two of these before leaving to drive abroad.

Headlight beam converters

Driving law states that you should not dazzle other drivers and as we drive on the other side of the road in the UK, we need to make sure our lights do not cause other road users any problems. Therefore, we need headlamp beam convertors.  You may need to get someone to attach them for you and you must make sure they are removed when you get back to the UK. Not all cars can have the convertors applied to them so check if your vehicle is compatible but also see if it has inbuilt functionality to adapt your lights.

Snow chains

Depending on where you are travelling, snow chains may be a legal requirement. It won’t matter whether you have winter tyres or not. The chains may be compulsory. This is another country specific rule so consult the Govt website for up-to-date information.  In some countries, winter tyres are also required due to the likelihood of snow and slippery conditions. The tread depth is often the same as in the UK, but we would recommend you should consider new tyres for your trip if you are already at the minimum standard requirement of 1.6mm tread depth.

Is there anything else I should know about driving abroad?

There are a few other things to keep in mind when driving in another country. One of the first is, “Think right”. You will be driving on the other side of the road and that can be easy to forget at times.

Check for emission rules and regulations, some cities operate low emission zones as well as restricted access schemes. This often means that you will have to register your vehicle before entering. The Govt website is again useful for this.

If you are taking your furry friend away with you, you may need to find out the rules on pet transportation. They differ between EU and non-EU countries, so it is again, worth checking. Things like animal health certificates, rabies information and more could all be asked for.

You may have to also look at your Sat-Nav. In some countries, if your system shows the location of fixed speed camera you will have to ensure it is disabled before travel.

If you are towing a trailer or caravan, you will need to get the BE category added to your driving licence. This is a free service you can use by completing a D1 form and sending it to the DVLA. You will also have to have the trailer registered. However, some countries will differ to others. The last thing to check is the need for a Green Card. If you need one, you will need one per trailer and per caravan you tow.

Wherever you plan to drive when abroad, drive safe and drive sensible. You want to enjoy your trip instead of paying fines for a few simple mistakes!

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