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Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Driving in Europe 

News & Blog

Driving in Europe

Driving in Europe can often be confusing as compared to the UK most of Europe drives on the opposite side of the road (the right) so knowing which side of the road to drive on is essential for your own and others’ safety. 

Driving in Europe left, or right?

An easy way to know if you need to be on the left or right side of the road is that there are only four countries that drive on the left: the UK, Republic of Ireland, Malta, and Cyprus. The rest drive on the right. You’ll also be able to tell as the car will be set up on the opposite side to normal if you are in the UK with the steering wheel on the left-hand side rather than the right.

We’ve also created a driving in Europe checklist for all the essential information you will need:

1. International Driving Permit (IDP) – in most cases you won’t need an IDP but do ensure that your driving license is still valid.

  • If your license was issued in Guernsey, Gibraltar, Jersey, or the Isle of man you will need an IDP
  • Or, if you still have a paper license.
  • They cost £5.50* if you do need one but make sure you get the correct one as there are 3 different kinds
  • You will need an IDP if driving in Turkey 

2. You will no longer need an insurance ‘green card’ when driving in the EU and EEA if you have a valid car insurance policy in the UK, this valid policy gives you third-party cover in the EU and EEA.

3. Make sure you take a copy of your Motor Insurance with you when you go abroad, this can be digital, as proof of your insurance when trying to rent a car.

4. Make sure to check whether your breakdown cover is valid in Europe as the UK breakdown cover is rarely valid overseas but can be added as an extra for an additional cost. This can be purchased from specialist companies, not just the car hire company you are using, and can be cheaper this way.

5. Check, and double-check, what safety equipment you will need in your car such as a reflective jacket.

  • In some EU countries, it is compulsory to have certain pieces of equipment in your vehicle at certain times of the year i.e., snow chains, warning triangle, reflective jacket, winter tires.
  • By not carrying the equipment you are effectively breaking the law, in Belgium, you can face up to a £500 fine for having incorrect or no equipment.
  • Each country has its own specific list of what you will need to check the country you are travelling to for specifics.
  • If you hire or lease a car, check the boot as most hire companies will provide the equipment for you.
  • Check if you need an emissions sticker to avoid a fine of over £70, this can vary country to country and city to city.

7. Check your vehicle if taking your own as some EU countries ban certain makes and models of car due to the emissions they give out due to being older and less efficient.

8. Europe has a lot of tolls especially when crossing borders so make sure you keep some loose change handy to pay for them, while tolls booths typically now take card payment, it can fail so having change on hand is always a safe bet.

9. Always drive on the correct side of the road! And remember you may need headlight converters if you are taking your own car with you as, if you’re from the UK your headlights are set for driving on the left instead of the right, and if not converted they can blind other drivers.

  • It is a requirement in the EU to not dazzle other drivers.
  • If not converted, you can receive a fine or even invalidate your insurance.
  • Usually, they cost under £10.

10. If hiring a car to drive your family around, you can usually check in a child’s booster seat for free alongside your other checked luggage or get one from the care hire company.

Tips for driving in Europe

  • If you’re hiring a car, request a personal code from the DVLA, this helps hire companies to check how many points you have on your license
  • Not always checked but good to have just in case
  • Make sure you take the correct documents with you; passport, driving license, 
  • When taking your own car take the above and, the logbook, certificate of motor insurance and a copy of your travel insurance. 
  • Renting a child’s travel seat can become costly about £6-8 a day so taking your own is the best option 
  • Check the country-specific rule and regulations before driving anywhere 
  • Headlight converters are just stickers that adjust the dipped beam of your headlight and can be picked up in places such as Halfords.
  • GB stickers have been replaced by UK stickers, if taking your own car to Spain, Cyprus, or Malta you will need a UK sticker regardless of whether you have the new UK identifier on your license plate. They only cost approx. £3.99* a sticker, so make sure you get one before you travel!
  • The UK’s Highway Code has recently updated, so check that know the up t0 date code in the country you are driving in.
  • If taking your car to a non-EU or EEA country such as Turkey, you’ll need to ask your insurer for a ‘green card’ to ensure you can drive when you’re over there.

And if you are wondering if you should take you car with you when you move abroad, make sure your read this blog post

Should I take my car with me when moving to a new country?



*Prices may vary.

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