The definitive guide for UK drivers travelling in Europe this Summer

We are heading to Spain shortly with our car and a boat trailer, taking the ferry crossing from Portsmouth to Santander with Brittany Ferries. Our sons are competing in a sailing World Championships for their class of boat so it’s set to be an exciting trip! It’s a trip that’s also required a lot of planning, though, with lots of paperwork – vehicle registration document, motor insurance, breakdown recovery, travel insurance, boat insurance, sailing insurance, sailing class association membership, entry forms, racing rules, medical consent forms, parental declarations, tickets, passports, accommodation info, etc. – and that’s before we’d even started packing and loading the trailer with boats and other equipment!

Driving in Europe

And if all that wasn’t enough, we’ve also needed to research what we’ve needed as far as taking our vehicle abroad is concerned. Some countries require high visibility waistcoats whilst others require you to travel with a fire extinguisher. It’s something of a minefield but in doing my research I did come across various useful resources and have put together this table to help others in a similar predicament. If you’re heading for any of the more popular European countries for UK travellers such as France, Spain and a handful of others, then I hope you’ll find this table a helpful summary of what you require, depending on where you’re going.

The definitive guide for UK drivers travelling in Europe
 AT  BE  CH  DE  ES  FR  IT  NL  PL
GB plate or GB Euroflag number plate
Headlamp converters
Warning triangle 2
High visibility waistcoat *
Spare bulbs
First aid kit
Fire extinguisher
Snow chains (when required)
Breathalyser (NF approved) §

Red – compulsory; black – recommended
* One for each person in the car
† Two vests strongly advised. One must be in the body of the car (not the boot).
‡ Should conform to DIN13 164 standard
§ Two strongly recommended

We hope you find this information useful. Don’t forget also to travel with your full driving license, a copy of your DVLA driver record, an International Driving Permit (where required), an original copy of your vehicle’s registration document (V5c) and your motor insurance. Although not always a requirement, it’s also a good idea to carry a set of headlamp beam convertors, just in case you find yourself driving at night.

It should be stressed that the above table doesn’t necessarily cover everything you need to know, but it does address a number of the basics. It’s still a good idea to do your own research and find out as much as you can, well ahead of your time of travel.

Road

Did you know, for instance, that in Spain children under the age of 12 cannot travel in the front of the car (unless the rear seats are already occupied by children), and that the drinking and driving limits vary depending on the extent of your driving experience? Of course, it’s a good idea not to drink at all if you’re driving, particularly if you’re doing so in an unfamiliar country, but the point is that each country has its own differences and quirks, and it’s worth finding out as much as you can, far in advance of your trip.

Wherever you are travelling this Summer, do drive safely!

Images: Shutterstock

Disclosure: Our trip to Spain is sponsored by Brittany Ferries.

Comments (4)

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  1. Richard Eldred Hawes says:

    You can never have too much advice when driving in Europe, if you get caught not following the rules it can be expensive

  2. PhilipII says:

    Even better if Éire, Britain, Cyprus and Malta all switched to driving on the right on the same day, similar to a H Day in Sweden in 1967 then problem solved. Ah plus when on earth is Britain going to start using the worldwide measurements on its roads? It is as we were back in the mediaeval period! : (

  3. amy fidler says:

    i always travel in Europe,so thanks for some this,very informative and useful,i’ll print off chart x

  4. Maya Russell says:

    Thank you for this useful chart. It is all about the planning and not leaving it to the last minute.

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