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Driving In Europe: Requirements and Tips

15 Dec 2023

Whether you’re planning a family holiday to France or Spain, mapping out an Italian road trip, or flying deeper into Europe to rent a car on arrival, it's crucial to familiarise yourself with Europe’s unique road rules and customs. And to save you time and worry, we’re happy to be your trusted companion as we navigate the ins and outs of driving in Europe.

From understanding the various driving documents and equipment you’re legally required to carry, to clearing up green card uncertainties and offering some best practices, here are the essential rules and recommendations to ensure a stress-free journey across Europe...

Key Documents

When driving in Europe, there are several important documents you should carry with you to ensure compliance with local regulations. And although specific requirements may vary slightly from country to country, the following documents are all crucial across the continent, so you can sit at the wheel without the need to worry…

  1. Full, valid driving licence and national insurance number
  2. Proof of vehicle insurance
  3. Proof of ID (valid passport)
  4. V5C certificate (log book)
  5. Travel insurance documents
  6. European Breakdown Cover policy number and documents
  7. Before you travel ensure your vehicle’s tax and MOT are valid and up-to-date
  8. Crit’air sticker if driving in France (find out more)

Required Equipment

The list of requirements doesn’t stop at documents, to avoid any nasty fines on the road it’s crucial that drivers tick off the following six pieces of equipment before they hit the road…

  1. Reflective ‘hi-vis’ jackets (one each for the driver and all passengers, and must be kept in the front of the car so they’re easily accessible in the case of a breakdown)
  2. Warning triangle (compulsory in almost all countries)
  3. Headlamp beam deflectors (drivers will need to buy deflector stickers, or adjust the headlight’s beam manually)
  4. Safety helmets are compulsory for riders and passengers of motorcyclists and moped users
  5. UK car sticker (only required if you do not have a GB Euro number plate, but always compulsory when driving in Cyprus, Malta or Spain)
  6. First aid kit (compulsory in Austria, France and Germany)

Do I need a Green Card to drive in Europe?

The simple answer to this question is no. Since August 2021, British drivers are no longer required to carry an Insurance Green Card when driving in EU countries, this also applies to:

  • Andorra
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Norway
  • Serbia
  • Switzerland

To confirm, whilst drivers need the minimum third party insurance to drive across Europe, they are not required to carry Green Cards. However, drivers may need a green card to drive in the following five non-EU countries:

  • Albania
  • Azerbaijan
  • Moldova
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine

At Tangelo we’d recommend double checking the driving and insurance requirements before visiting any foreign country, just because rules can change quickly and quietly, and you don’t want to be caught out!

Tangelo Tips

If you’ve ticked off the checklist of documents and equipment needed to drive in Europe, then you’re good to go! Whilst it feels great to have the essentials sorted, we’ve gathered a few Tangelo tips to further ensure your comfort and enjoyment as you drive through Europe…

Travel Packs: With all the policies, certificates, and insurance details required to drive in Europe, it just makes sense to have one place to store all these important documents in case you get into difficulties. Keep this travel pack in your car’s glove compartment so it’s easy to access, and make sure to double-check all the documents inside before setting off!

Check your Breakdown Cover: Just in case something does go wrong, have a look at the standalone European Breakdown policies available to you. If needed, these policies could save you significant expenses, and stress.  

Check your Car Insurance: Whilst all third-party car insurance policies do cover British drivers across the EU, it’s always worth checking to see this in writing, just so you know where to point in case you’re asked to provide any details.

Insurance Hire Cars: If you’re hiring a car in Europe, make sure to cover your hire excess. What this means is that if your hire car is damaged or stolen, the rental company will expect you to pay for the damage, or replace the vehicle, and excess insurance covers you against these charges.

Check your Visa: Brexit led to so many ongoing changes for Britons travelling to Europe, one of the most significant being the length of time UK travellers can stay in Europe for without a visa. If you’re planning on being in Europe for less than 90 days within a 180 day period, then you can do so visa-free. But if you’re planning on being in Europe for longer than 90 days, we’d recommending checking the Government Travel Guide.

Vehicle Checks and Servicing

From pre-journey checks to vehicle servicing and road trip prep, it’s important to feel safe and prepared before any road trip, especially one that’s abroad. For that reason, we’d recommend checking out our recent blogs Important Car Checks for Long Journeys.

And to ensure the reliability and performance of your vehicle ahead of a European road trip, we’d also recommend an annual vehicle service. Not only will this ease your mind before a long drive, but it saves you money down the line by avoiding any deteriorating issues and breakages.

A full car service at Tangelo Auto Centre costs £250*, and whilst customers are able to pay this in one go, as a Bumper Partner we also offer the chance to spread payments in interest-free instalments. Setting up a Bumper account is quick and easy, in fact, it takes most customers no more than a couple of minutes…

When it comes to paying with Bumper, simply provide us with your Bumper Code, you’ll then receive a link to set up the payment plan, here you can choose the length of time to spread the cost over, or a repayment date that works for you. To find out more about what’s included in a Tangelo Service, check out our recent blog; What is a car service?

Contact Tangelo Auto Centre in Exeter to book your Service and MOT.

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