Motoring abroad

Motoring abroad


If you're thinking about a driving holiday in Europe, there a various issues to consider before you go.


Motor insurance is compulsory in all European countries. All UK insurance automatically provides the minimum legal requirement for third party, fire and theft in EU countries. However, you should check your policy or contact your insurer before leaving. Insurers might offer you extra cover to protect you against possible losses. For example, some insurances offer breakdown services.

You can also be offered a 'Green Card', which is an international motor insurance certificate. This card isn't needed to cross borders within the EU and a few other countries, but there are some countries where it's required. If you don't take a green card, you should carry your certificate of insurance as proof.


You should also take the following:

  • A first aid kit
  • A fire extinguisher
  • A warning triangle
  • A head lamp beam reflector
  • A high visibility vest
  • A GB/NI/EU sticker (not always required if appears on number plate)

These are often a legal requirement in a number of European countries.

Right of possession

When leaving the UK with your car, you should take with you your registration document V5 or V5NI, or registration certificate V5C or V5CNI, to show that you're the keeper of the vehicle. If you've lost it you can apply for a replacement (Replacing a registration document) from the DVLA in Swansea.

If you're going to use a hired car, you should get a 'vehicle on hire certificate' from the hire company or from a motoring organisation such as the AA or the RAC.

Driving licences

Both the new style and old-style driving licences are acceptable in most European countries. If you only have an old-style licence, you should also bring a form of ID with your photo on it, such as your passport. An 'International Driving Permit' is a useful form of identification. You can get it from a motoring organisation such as the AA or the RAC. It is valid for one year.

Accidents, health and safety

You should always ensure that your car is roadworthy because most European countries have similar construction and use requirements to the UK. If you're injured in an accident and in need of medical help, you should have with you your European Health Insurance Card. This card is needed to use certain health services in most EU countries.

If you have an accident, the cover provided under the respective national schemes isn't always comprehensive. Also, the cost of bringing a person back to the UK in the event of illness or death is never covered so you should make sure you have adequate travel insurance as well. In addition, you should take the details of the police or other authorities involved in any accident as this might be important later. It is best to have your insurance policy document with you to see if you're covered for unforeseen expenses.


You should be aware of speed regulations of the country you're visiting. In most European countries, speed limits are in kilometres (km) per hour, rather than miles per hour (mph). A rough guide is:

  • 50km per hour = 31mph
  • 120km per hour = 74mph

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