We touched on driving abroad briefly in our previous article about Preparing your car for a summer holiday journey but we thought it was worth going into some more detail on the subject since many UK citizens will venture abroad for their holidays shortly. We’ll keep on updating this article as the subject of driving in Europe is quite lengthy so keep checking back to learn more.
Prepare Your Documents
First things first, you’ll want to ensure you have all of the documents necessary to travel on foreign roads. Here’s a brief checklist of what you can expect to take but this can change, so always double-check these guidelines on the Goverment’s website regarding your vehicle.
- Passports – it goes without saying really, this should be you’re first port of call.
- Your full and valid driving licence – and anyone else’s who you expect to be driving. Take the paper slip too as some countries will not accept the photocard alone.
- Car insurance documents – if you have a certificate even better, but you can also print out your policy if it was registered online.
- Vehicle registration document or V5C document – the ones you received from the DVLA when you originally bought the vehicle. If this isn’t your own vehicle you will still need to get the V5C or VE103 documents as well as receive a signed letter of authorisation from the registered keeper of the vehicle!
- International Driving Permit – only if you’re driving outside the EU. You can get more information on the International Driving Permit here. You may also require a Visa for the country too outside of Europe.
You probably used to see them plastered all over caravans on the motorway some years back but now having a sticker on your car to indicate which country you’re from is less obvious as most number plates display the country along with a European flag symbol – also called ‘euro-plates’. However, if your number plate doesn’t show the country of residence then you’ll need to get yourself a GB bumper sticker to slap on the back of the vehicle and also the front to give warning to other drivers that you’re using a right-hand drive car and you’re not used to the local road regulations.
In A Major Emergency
It’s always best to know what to do in an emergency before you leave on your journey. In Europe instead of calling 999 or 111, the emergency services can be reached via the number 112 – best to save it in your mobile phone. Don’t worry about language issues as many operatives will be trained to deal with English callers. If you’re going further afield than the European Union then you can check each countries emergency numbers via this website. Therefore, having a mobile phone which can operate in each country and a relevant contract is a must.
Roadside Assistance Policies for Europe
If you’ve broken down and no-one is injured it’s best to call a roadside assistance company. Ideally, before you leave home you should have bought a European Breakdown policy to cover you whilst you are away. There’s nothing worse than finding yourself stranded and relying on someone you don’t know to fix your car, let alone the costs they may charge! Many of the main breakdown providers can cover you for European driving like the AA, RAC and Green Flag. If you’re savvy, then try checking out the comparison websites to get a good quote but don’t scrimp on the amount of cover you require – this could be a life-saver if it’s needed.
Check the Countries Road Regulations and Quirky Laws
Not all countries have the same road rules as the UK, even in Europe. The principles of driving are largely the same but there are a few quirks in some countries which could catch you out – at best you may get an impatient ‘beep’, at worst you could have an accident. Therefore, it’s sensible to check out the different cultural road habits so you’re not caught out. For example, local custom in Corfu says that a car turning left from a main road (across traffic) actually has right of way? You can check out the majority of the road regulations and quirky road laws on the AA website.
Enjoy your journey now you’re prepared and remember if you need any further advice or want a friendly garage near Bath based in Radstock to check your car over before you leave, we’d be happy to help – book an appointment today.