As the world begins to open up again and travelling is a possibility for us you might be considering driving to the EU for a summer break. To help ensure you’re ready to drive in a post-Brexit EU we’ve rounded up all the key information you need to know below and in this helpful downloadable PDF which you can also take with you.
General Travel Advice
The UK is one of only a few places in the world where you drive on the left side of the road. So, it’s important to remember that in most European countries you will need to keep right.
If you are driving your own car rather than a hire car from the country you are visiting then your driving position will not be the optimum one as right-hand drive vehicles are designed for left-side driving. You will need to be especially aware of your lane positioning and where you are on narrow roads when passing vehicles as you will not be able to see the inside of the road as easily as on UK roads.
When travelling it’s easy for the boot, and every other available space, to fill up with everything you need to take with you but you should be careful not to overload the vehicle. This not only causes additional strain on the vehicle and potentially cause damage but can also lead to you incurring fines and invalidate your vehicle insurance. Overloading the vehicle and blocking windows can be especially dangerous for you if you are driving on a side of the road that you are not used to, and with already reduced visibility because of this.
Take a look at the laws and regulations for the country you are going to be travelling to before you go to make sure that you know any other modifications you need to make to your driving style or vehicle. For example, in Europe you must adjust your headlamp beams patter so that the dipped beam does not dazzle oncoming drivers.
Green Card for Driving in the EU
British drivers travelling in the EU will now need a green card for their vehicle.
A green card is an international certificate of motor insurance and proves that the vehicle is insured.
You will need to have a physical copy of this from your insurance provider as electronic copies will not always be accepted and so you will need to get in touch with your insurance provider in plenty of time before travelling.
The government advises contacting your provider six weeks in advance though the time between providers will vary and we advise to contact your insurer directly as they will be able to confirm their timescale.
You will need a green card for each vehicle you plan on travelling with even if they are on a multi-car or fleet insurance policy.
If you are planning to take a trailer or caravan with you when you travel then this will need a separate green card certificate.
Please note that if you are travelling with a trailer then you may also need separate trailer insurance in some countries, and you are required to register it in order to be able to legally travel with it into most EU countries. For more information on travelling with a trailer you can visit the government’s website.
You might need multiple green cards for one vehicle as well, if you have two policies on it during your trip, for example if your insurance renews during your travels. Your insurance provider should advise you if this is the case when you contact them for the documentation.
Whenever you travel, whether you plan to drive or not, you should always take your passport with you.
Now that the UK has left the EU there are a few changes that you need to be aware of.
On the date of travelling your passport will need to have more than six months left before it expires and be less than 10 years old. Even if your passport has more than six months left if it is over 10 years since it was issued you will need to get a new one before you ally.
These rules do not apply to Ireland for UK citizens, and you will just need to have a valid passport for the duration of your trip when visiting the country.
You may now also be required to show a return or onwards ticket and that you have enough funds for the duration of your stay in the country.
If you plan to drive while abroad you will need to take your driving licence with you. This should have your correct name and address on it.
If you only have a provisional licence then you will need to check the legal requirements of learner drivers in the country you plan to travel to, as some have different requirements or age restrictions to the EU.
Please note if you only have a licence for an automatic vehicle then you will still only be able to drive an automatic vehicle whilst abroad.
For most EU countries as well as Switzerland, Iceland and Lichtenstein you should not need an international driving permit (IDP). However, if you only have a paper driving licence or your licence was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man then you may need to get an IDP to drive in some EU countries or Norway.
You can check if you will need an IDP here.
Uk drivers will not need an IDP to drive in Ireland.
As well as your documents you will also need to take some for the vehicle.
You will need to make sure your vehicle is insured and you have the physical copy of its green card. You should check with your insurance provider whether you will have the same level of cover as well when abroad as this is not always the case and you may have to pay extra to still have the same services.
You will also need to take the vehicle’s ownership documentation, also known as the VC5 or V5. Please note that your details on this will need to match those on your driving licence. If you are leasing the vehicle then you will not have this but we’ve covered what you will need to take a little further down in this article.
In most EU countries you will not need to have a GB sticker on the vehicle if your number plate has a GB identifier, as shown below.
This can be on its own or with the union flag.
If your vehicle does not have this and instead has a Euro symbol, the national flag of Scotland, England or Wales or no flag or identifier then you will need to purchase a sticker to display on the rear of your vehicle.
Any caravan or trailer that you are towing will also require a GB sticker.
If you are travelling to Spain, Cyprus or Malta you will need a sticker even if you have the GB identifier on your number plate.
In some areas of France, including Paris, low emission zones have been introduced to restrict vehicle access. In order to drive in these areas without being fined or facing another penalty you will need to purchase a Crit’Air sticker and have this on display in your vehicle. You can find out more about them and order a Crit’Air sticker here.
In the UK it is not a legal requirement to travel with safety items such as a warning triangle or hi-vis jacket but this is not the case in all European countries.
Take a look at the table below to see what is required across different countries. The R is for recommended but not a legal requirement.
There are a few things you need to be aware of with the above.
You must have an NF approved breathalyser when travelling in France.
It’s recommended in Spain that you have two warning triangles.
If you do travel with a first aid kit in Germany this needs to be a DIN approved standard.
Additionally, you might find it useful to keep some healthy snacks and bottles of water in the vehicle, especially when driving for long periods. For more information on what we recommend keeping in your vehicle whether you’re travelling or not take a look at this blog.
Travelling with a Lease Vehicle:
There are a few extra steps you’ll need to take when travelling with a lease vehicle as you are not the legal owner of the vehicle.
When you are the legal owner of the vehicle you will have its registration documentation, also known as the VC5, however when you are leasing this will be kept by the funder. In order to prove you authorised to have the vehicle when you travel you will need to request a VE103 from your lease funder.
Please note that the time it takes from your request to you receiving the VE103 can vary between funders but most advise you contact them at least a month to two weeks prior to travel.
You will need to provide the below information in order receive the VE103:
- Dates of travel
- Intended countries of travel
- The vehicle registration
- Any driver’s full name as appears on their licence
- Any driver’s full address as appears on their licence
Some may also ask you for the vehicle’s mileage so it is worth making a note of this as well before you request the VE103.
Once a VE103 has been issued this will usually be valid for a year, provided there is no change to the listed driver details. If there is a change, for example if you move and the address on your licence has been updated then you will need to request a new VE103 before travelling.
Some funders may have a small charge for the processing of the VE103 but they will advise you of this when you contact them to request the documentation.
If your lease was arranged through Xcite Car Leasing then you can take a look at this guide for a full break down of what you need to know and how to request this documentation.
If your lease includes a maintenance package then you should also check with your funder whether this will cover you whilst abroad. Some funders offer a reduced service or do not include maintenance whilst the vehicle is in a foreign country.
You can also call our Customer Services Team on 01722 322 888 if you have any questions about travelling with a lease vehicle.