Can I drive abroad?

Whatever you do, don't leave the country without checking which side of the road they drive on first. There's more to it than that though. This is what you need to know when you're driving abroad.

Can you drive abroad?

Of course, you can. So long as you make sure that you have the right to drive in the country you're planning on heading, all should be good. If you're not sure if you can, double-check on the Gov.uk site to see which locations your licence is valid.

Our checklist has got you covered with everything from what to take with you to things you may need when you get to your destination.

Good riddance to GB stickers

You'll probably be pleased to know that the GB sticker is no longer needed on your number plate when you're driving abroad. In fact, you actually need to remove it, replace it, or cover it with a new sticker.

The law states that a UK sticker on your vehicle is needed if your number plate has any of the following:

  • Euro symbol
  • GB identifier with the Union flag
  • The National flag of England, Scotland, or Wales
  • Numbers and letters - no flag or identifier

The good news is, if your number plate has a UK identifier with a Union flag on it, you won’t actually need a sticker.

This is where it gets a bit messy because if you’re driving to either Spain, Cyprus, or Malta, you will need a sticker no matter what your number plate says. Just to confuse you even more.

Going to Ireland? You won’t even need to think about getting a sticker, you can just drive on through.

Documents you’ll need to have to hand

You might need to make sure you have these documents with you just to be on the safe side:

  • International driving permit
  • A separate UK sticker

    The essential documents that you will need are:
  • Full, valid driving licence
  • Your national insurance number
  • Proof of ID (passport)
  • V5C certificate
  • Travel insurance documents
  • European Breakdown Cover policy number and documents

The top tip is to make sure you have valid tax and MOT on your vehicle and that it’s all up to date.

Equipment-wise

When it comes down to equipment, we’re talking safety accessories.

  • A red triangle – this is pretty much compulsory in most countries
  • A reflective vest – it’s a good idea to make sure you’ve packed enough for all your passengers too
  • First aid kit – this is definitely compulsory in places like Austria, France, and Germany
  • Spare bulbs – as long as you’ve got either deflector stickers or you can adjust the beams manually
  • Safety helmets – especially if you’re on a motorbike
  • Handy bits and bobs for the journey
  • A spare fuel can, oil, and water
  • A quality torch
  • An up to date map
  • A blanket
  • Sun cream,
  • Refreshments and lots of water
  • If you’re taking children with you, some games and entertainment bits could come in handy
  • Medication, extra medication too so that you’re well stocked up
Europe map

What’s the deal with Green Cards?

You’ll be pleased to know that the Government has got rid of Green Cards and they are no longer required for you to drive in:

  • Countries that are in the EU
  • Countries in the European Economic Area
  • Andorra
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Serbia
  • Switzerland

It's all about the car insurance

First things first before driving abroad, does your car insurance cover it? If not, then you're screwed. Before you go through any tunnel or get on a ferry out of here, it's probably a good idea to check with your insurance provider that you are fully covered to be able to drive abroad.

Sometimes, you might need to pay extra to extend your cover if you only have the bare minimum of legal cover (third party only). If you’re not covered and then god forbid you are involved in an accident abroad, you could be forced to pay a large sum.

Does your insurance provider include European cover? That’s great news! So long as you have the right level of cover, and you’re covered for the duration of your trip, you’ll be sorted.

What about breakdown cover?

When your breakdown, fingers crossed you won’t, but if you did you’ll be thanking your lucky stars that you have breakdown cover in place.

Breakdown cover is extremely useful and can include a courtesy car too if you're lucky. It can also cover the cost of bringing your car back from another country and believe it or not, some insurance policies can include European breakdown cover as a standard.

Your existing insurance policy may already have breakdown cover, or you might have to increase your existing cover or even take out a standalone European breakdown cover If you don’t already have it. This will massively help you to avoid any stress and additional expense should anything not go the way it's supposed to.

General tips for going abroad

Top of the list definitely has to be checking out the local driving laws before you go. You never know, there might be some serious penalties for breaking the law wherever you’re going.

Hiring a car? Don’t forget to cover your hire excess. Car hire excess insurance protects your excess, which means you can claim back any charges.

It’s all about the service. Prep your car for the trip and making sure that it's up to scratch is key. You could do some simple checks on it yourself and you could also get it serviced too at the local garage.

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