Select a country from the list below to see more specific information relating to the rules and regulations regarding driving in that country.
General Information for Drivers in Europe
Credit Cards It is a good idea to let your credit/debit card issuers know you will be travelling abroad. This ensures they don't suspend your card if they spot it being used in unfamiliar places, which they sometimes do as an anti-fraud measure.
Drink Driving The UK is the most lenient regarding the limits for drink driving. Most EU countries have stricter limits and some, notably the Eastern European members, have zero tolerance to this issue meaning that ANY drinking within 12 hours of driving can be too much!
Emergency Numbers Dial 112 anywhere in the EU to reach the emergency services.
Parking In most EU countries it is illegal to park facing the oncoming traffic.
GB sticker UK registered vehicles displaying Euro-plates (circle of 12 stars above the national identifier on blue background) no longer need a GB sticker when driving in European Union countries. A GB sticker is still required outside the EU.
Photo ID driving licence (including counterpart) or passport
Vehicle registration docs (V5). If the vehicle is not registered in your name, carry a letter from the registered owner giving you permission to drive.
Many countries legally require dipped headlights to be used in poor weather/visibility; some require dipped headlights to be on at all times.
Headlamp beam converter kits are widely available but don't leave headlamp conversion to the last minute, as a dealer may need to make the adjustment.
Modern high-intensity discharge (HID) or xenon headlights
These can't be adapted by applying an external mask. Fortunately, many feature an internal 'shutter' that can be moved into place by a screw or lever adjustment at the back of the headlamp unit. But some designs are less convenient and the dealer will need to make the adjustment.
Modern halogen-type headlamps
Some of these now require external masks of such complex design that motorists struggle to follow the instructions and work out exactly how and where the mask should be applied.
Check with the dealer or the car's handbook for advice – especially if your car has HID or XENON headlamps. Remember to remove the converters as soon as you return to the UK.
If your vehicle is not equipped with a door or wing-mirror on the left-hand side we recommend that you get one fitted to aid driving on the right.
The need for anyone outside a vehicle on a motorway to be wearing a reflective vest is increasingly becoming a legal requirement in many countries.
Most countries outlaw or actively discourage the use of mobile phones in moving vehicles some, however, tolerate the use of a hands free system.
Many countries now collect fines ‘on-the-spot’ and in some cases either a deposit or the whole fine is collected, in cash, by the officer at the roadside. Ensure that you carry sufficient cash to pay a fine otherwise you may find that your licence is confiscated or your car is impounded. Insist on a receipt for any monies paid over on-the-spot.
Speed-trap Detection Devices
The use or possession of devices to detect police radar is illegal in most European countries. Penalties can include fines, driving ban, confiscation of device, impounding of vehicle and even imprisonment.
When hiring a car abroad ensure that you have the essential safety equipment for that country supplied with the vehicle. Remember it is the driver of the vehicle who will be fined NOT the hire company.
In the unfortunate event that you are involved in an accident it is advisable that you collect information for yourself such as length of skid marks, speed limits in force etc. A disposable camera is very useful for this purpose. Do NOT be tempted to sign anything at the scene unless you are fluent in the language and you understand exactly what it is that you are signing.
Euros the following countries have Euros as their currency:
Belgium, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Finland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Malta and Cyprus (southern).
Before you go
Aside from routine servicing, regular inspection and a few simple checks before departing will lessen the chances of a breakdown. Although pan-European cover with motoring organisations such as the AA and RAC in Great Britain do provide a safeguard against major mechanical failures and breakdowns, preventative maintenance is way better than a road-side repair. The vast majority of breakdowns occur through problems with batteries, ignition, fuel and cooling systems. A summary of what to look out for is given below:
Cooling System - regardless of the time of year you drive to Europe, it's important to make sure your vehicle's cooling system is operating efficiently. This is especially true during the hot summer months when temperatures in Europe can reach 97°F.
First check the radiator for leaks and signs of excessive corrosion and remove debris such as leaves, paper and insects. Coolant hoses (top and bottom) should be inspected for cracks/bulges and replaced if necessary. The security of hose clips should also be checked and adjusted if required (being careful not to over tighten). While fluid loss in a sealed unit often signifies a leak, top up only with an anti-freeze solution recommended by your vehicle manufacturer.
Also check the tension/condition of fan belts and replace if necessary (keeping a spare just in case of failure). Other common problems include faulty thermostat sensors, which usually cause cooling fans to only work intermittently resulting in increased engine temperatures.
Battery - ensure the battery electrolyte level of cells covers the top of each plate, topping up using distilled water if necessary. Also, check the electrical connections to each battery terminal, removing any green residue which may have collected* (as this can stop power reaching the starter motor). When clean, smear petroleum jelly onto the battery terminals both before and after reconnecting. Also ensure that the earthing strip has a good connection to the body/chassis of the vehicle. *disconnect according to instructions in your owners handbook.
Tyres - normally tyre pressures should be checked at weekly intervals. However, on a long to journey it's prudent to check them once a day, preferably when cold. If your vehicle is fully loaded i.e. 4/5 occupants plus luggage, adjust pressures accordingly (referring back to the manufacturers handbook). Also consider buying a good quality tyre pressure gauge - those at filling stations are notoriously unreliable. Tread depth (which must appear in a continuous band over at least three quarters of the tyre) should be above the legal minimum of 1.6mm.
Cam belt (Timing belt) - special attention is drawn to vehicle cam belts. Inspection (and replacement if necessary) is usually carried at intervals ranging from 40,000-60,000 miles. If your journey coincides with an inspection, make sure it is carried out before you go. A failed belt will invariably result in engine damage to both valves and cylinder head. For Golf/Focus sized vehicles this can cost upwards of £800 to repair.
Disclaimer EUroadlegal has made every effort to ensure that the information contained on this page is accurate and up-to-date. In most instances the information has been collated from either an official document from the country concerned or from two or more reliable sources. EUroadlegal cannot be held responsible for any actions resulting from the adherence or ignoring of the information contained on this page. If you would like to contribute by adding, removing or modifying the data on this page based on your own experience, please