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Driving abroad

Make sure you have all the necessary documents and cover in place before taking your car overseas.

Last updated: 02/12/2021 | Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

If you are planning on driving in another country, either for business or pleasure, you must make sure you have everything you need to be safe and legal on the road.

In This Guide:

What should you bring when driving abroad?

Green Card

Getting a Green Card from your insurer before you travel will help should you need to make a claim in another country.

It is an internationally recognised document that acts as proof of insurance on the vehicle you are driving.

Green Cards are used throughout Europe and in some other countries. You can get one from your insurer for free but make sure you give plenty of time before you travel.

GB sticker

A GB sticker is essential if you are driving in Europe as it informs officials that your vehicle is from the UK.

It’s small and attaches magnetically to your number plate meaning it can be easily removed and reused.

If you’re driving in Europe without one you could receive a fine if caught.

International Driving Permit (IDP)

You will need to hold a full UK drivers licence wherever you travel, but some places will require you to also have an International Driving Permit (IDP).

However, it is not necessary to obtain an IDP if driving in Europe as well as EEA countries.

The type of IDP you need may vary depending on what country you will be driving in, so make sure to research before buying one. An IDP costs £5.50 and can be purchased at your local Post Office.

Vehicle documents

When taking your own car abroad (for less than 12 months), you will need your V5C logbook with you.

If your V5C needs updating then make sure you leave plenty of time to do so before you travel.

If using a hire car abroad you will need a VE103 certificate that proves you are allowed to drive the vehicle abroad.

Toolkits and servicing

If using your own car, it is advised that you have it serviced before traveling, especially if you plan on using it for long distances.

You should also perform all routine checks, including fluid and coolant checks, tyre pressure, headlights/electrics, and brakes.

It may also be worth taking an emergency kit consisting of a first-aid kit, tool kit, warning triangle, reflective clothing, torch, and fire extinguisher, should you run into any trouble.

Will your car insurance be valid when driving abroad?

You will need to contact your insurer before you travel to see if your current policy covers you abroad.

If traveling within the EU, you can get European cover as an optional extra that typically covers you for 30 days. European cover is usually split into different zones, so check with your insurer which countries you will be covered for.

If traveling outside the EU, you may need to see what your provider offers as additional cover and whether they provide cover for the country you are traveling in. 

It is also worth checking your breakdown cover before traveling abroad. Our guide will tell you all you need to know about breakdown cover.

Driving in the EU

All countries inside the EU have their own driving laws and regulations, so you should be aware of them to avoid making mistakes. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has detailed information on driving laws in other countries as well as recommendations for local driving customs.

Some countries hold very specific local customs and laws so it is essential to check thoroughly before traveling. For example, in Spain you can only park your car on certain sides of the road depending on what day of the week it is, while in Romania you can be fined for driving a dirty car!

Police officials in most of Europe hold the power to issue on-the-spot fines and/or confiscate your vehicle should you infringe on their laws.

Driving outside of the EU

As with driving in Europe, you will need to ensure that you have read up on and respect the laws and customs of wherever you are travelling. You will also need to ensure you have your IDP and inform your insurer of what countries you will be driving in.

It is also worth checking with the embassy of any country you plan on visiting to see if there are additional pieces of documentation you require, such as having your passport with you at all times.

Driving abroad after Brexit

Since the UK left the EU on the 1st January 2021, some countries in the EU and EEA require you to hold an IDP when traveling through them as well as a valid UK driving licence and GB sticker.

Check which country requires you to hold an IDP and what type (1948 or 1968) before traveling, and get both if you’re planning on driving through multiple countries.

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