Motoring abroad

Motoring abroad

If you're going to be driving outside of the UK, there are 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.

Your insurer should be able to provide you with a 'green card', which is proof of your insurance when driving abroad. You will need to carry a physical copy of this if you're going to drive in the EU (including Ireland), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Serbia or Andorra. You may also need to carry it if driving elsewhere in the world.

Keep the green card handy when travelling, as you may be requested to show it at border checks as you move between countries, at police checks or if you're involved in an accident.

For European driving, you should carry an insurance card as well as getting travel insurance. If you have a European Health Insurance Card that's still in date, you'll be able to use it within the EU until it expires. If it's expired, or you don't have one, apply for the UK Global Health Insurance Card. Note that this only covers you in EU countries.


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.

You must check the driving rules of the foreign country you're planning to drive in, as there are often extra legal requirements.

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' or VE103 from the hire company or from a motoring organisation such as the AA or the RAC.

Driving licences

Driving abroad on holiday

You may need an international driving permit (IDP), depending on the country you're visiting.

Generally, you won't need one to drive in the EU, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein. You may need one if you still have a paper driving licence or if your licence was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man.

There are 3 types IDP: check GOV.UK to see which, if any, you'll need.

Driving abroad while living there

If you move to another country, you'll need a new driving licence.

Depending on the country, you may be able to exchange your UK licence for a local one without having to take another test. For countries in the EU and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, this is also possible but there may be a deadline.

If you return to live in the UK again, you'll be able to exchange your EU driving licence for a UK driving licence without the need to re-test.

Speed Regulations

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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