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Ultimate guide to driving in Europe

18th March 2022

Whilst you may think driving in Europe is as simple as just driving on the right, you may be surprised to discover many differences when driving in this continent.  Our helpful guide, we will tell you everything you need to know about driving in Europe from documents to driving tips.

European driving checklist

Before you embark on your European road trip, there are several things you will need to take to ensure you are driving legally. Some of the most important documents to remember to pack include:

  • Driving licence and national insurance number
  • Proof of ID (passport)
  • V5C certificate (your logbook)
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Proof of vehicle insurance
  • European Breakdown Cover policy
  • Ensure both your MOT and vehicle tax policy is up to date
  • Crit’air sticker if driving in France
  • You may need also need an international driving permit (IDP)

In addition to these documents, some European countries will also require you by law to carry some extra safety gear. This could include:

  • First aid kit – this is compulsory in Germany, France, and Austria.
  • Warning triangles – this is requirement in most countries in case of breakdown.
  • Headlamp beam deflectors – depending on your car, you may either need deflector stickers or you may just need to adjust the headlights manually.
  • Reflective jackets – there must be one for each passenger, and these must always be kept in the cabin of the car.
  • UK car sticker – this is compulsory in Cyprus, Malta, and Spain.
  • Safety helmets – these are mandatory for motorcyclists and moped users.

Top tips for driving in Europe

  1. Remember to drive on the right: driving on the opposite side of what you are used to can be quite disorientating for a driver. Remember to negotiate roundabouts in an anti-clockwise direction, and that left-coming traffic will cross oncoming traffic.
  2. Fit headlight beam covers: in many countries, it is illegal to dazzle oncoming traffic at night, so beam covers are a must.
  3. Check parking in tourist areas: no-one wants to gain a parking ticket on their holidays, so be sure to double-check the parking rules. Parking in Spain can be particularly busy and have quite a few regulations to keep in mind.
  4. Check your breakdown cover extends to Europe: you may need to increase your existing cover or take a standalone European breakdown policy.
  5. Emergency contact: make sure you fill out the emergency contact details in your passport in case of an emergency. It is also a good idea to tell a friend or relative where you are going and how long for, to give them some idea of your itinerary if possible.
  6. Take a break: driving can be tiring, especially in unfamiliar surroundings where you may have to concentrate more than usual. Ensure you take regular brakes and park in a safe place to rest when you feel tired.

Driving in Europe after Brexit

Whilst most UK drivers will still be able to use their standard license, in some countries, an International Driving Permit (IDP) is required. You can check if you need an IDP on GOV.UK. Other changes include bringing your 5VC logbook with you, and ensuring you have the correct UK sticker for the country you are visiting. Check GOV.UK for the latest advice on driving abroad.

Eliminate any further complications when driving in Europe by ensuring that your car is in tip-top condition. Here at Merityre Specialists, our experts are always on-hand to fix any motoring qualms you may have. Whether you a servicing or MOT, do not hesitate to get in touch with us today or pop into a local Merityre branch near you.