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Car travelling down road.

Tips for driving abroad

If you take your car on holiday outside of the UK, planning well in advance of your journey is vital. Taking the time to ensure that you have the right cover will prevent your trip from being spoilt by any setbacks on the roads.

Car Insurance

  • Most importantly, you should contact your insurance company to inform them that you will be driving abroad, making sure to check exactly what you are covered for before you leave.
  • Sometimes insurance cover changes when you drive on foreign roads and you may only have third party cover so it is advisable to contact your insurer and upgrade your cover while you're away, if necessary.
  • Policy upgrades for international driving tend to vary between 30 and 90 days and come at an additional charge from your insurer.
  • While most UK policies cover you in all of the EU and Switzerland, you should ask your insurance company for advice on cover for driving in other countries.

Breakdown Cover

Breaking down is always a hassle but doing so in a foreign country can be very stressful, especially if you need help to get your car home again.

  • Contact your current breakdown cover provider to upgrade your cover or take out cover just for your holiday if necessary.

Preparation Checks

Servicing:

  • Several weeks before you go, organise a service on your vehicle to make sure everything is in perfect working order before you travel.
  • If you intend to do the service yourself, don't forget to check oil levels, tyre pressure and to adjust your headlights for driving on the right hand side of the road so that the dipped beam doesn't dazzle oncoming drivers.

Equipment:

Driving laws are different on the continent from in the UK - ensuring that you have at least the mandatory equipment listed below will keep your driving legal and safe.

Mandatory equipment for driving abroad:

  • GB euro-symbol number plates (Europlates) notifying other drivers that you are from Great Britain or a GB sticker. Some countries outside the EU require you to display a GB sticker even if you have Europlates so it may be simpler to use one at all times.
  • A Warning Triangle for oncoming traffic in case of a breakdown.
  • Reflective vests or jackets for those in the driver and passenger seats in case of breakdown (Only compulsory in Austria, Croatia, Italy, Portugal and Spain).

Other Equipment for your own peace of mind:

  • Recent road maps or updated sat nav for the country you are driving in.
  • First Aid Kit
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Spare Headlight Bulbs
  • Snow Chains (for driving in wintry/alpine climates)
  • Jump Leads
  • Tyre Pump

Documentation

You must carry the correct documentation with you as you drive abroad. As a foreign driver you could be asked to show your papers at any point in your trip - use the list below to make sure you aren't caught out. You should carry:

  • Your passport
  • An International Driving Permit (if you're driving outside the EU)
  • Your driving licence and its paper counterpart
  • Your vehicle's registration document
  • Your car insurance certificate
  • A valid MOT certificate
  • Details of your breakdown cover

Making sure that you have the correct documentation, equipment and cover for your vehicle means that you can holiday without worry.

Speed Limits

Speed limits abroad vary so you should find out what they are in the country you're visiting and stick to them. Many countries in the EU, and beyond, impose on-the-spot speeding fines so you need to keep a close eye on your speedometer.

Drink Driving

The best policy is don't drink and drive because legal alcohol limits vary widely abroad. Laws in many foreign countries are also strict and if caught you could face severe penalties.