Driving Abroad

Every year, more and more British travellers are crossing the channel to enjoy self-drive, motoring holidays on the continent. Which is not surprising considering all the benefits Europe now has to offer and the ease with which motorists can cross the channel.

An IDP (International Driving Permit) is recognised throughout the world, it normally allows the holder to drive a private motor vehicle without further form filling and paperwork when accompanied by a valid UK driving licence.

Applications for an IDP can be made by taking or posting completed application form(s) to the AA's Dover shop (Eastern Docks Terminal) or, if travelling via Eurotunnel, the AA's Folkestone shop (Eurotunnel Passenger Terminal). You must produce one of the following valid documents:

  • UK driving licence
  • DVLA certificate of entitlement
  • UK pass certificate

Below is a guide to the European Motoring Regulations

In all countries a full UK driving licence is required, where the minimum age for driving is 17. As in the UK, seat belts should be worn front and rear. Below are the regulations relating to countries which differ from those in the UK.

France

Minimum age of driver is 18. Children under 10 are forbidden to travel in the front seat.

Paperwork

Keep driving licence and all car paperwork with you as it must be produced on the spot if requested by the police. Driving licence must be a 'pink' one or pink and green ' not an old green one. A letter giving authority to drive the car must be kept with the paperwork if the car is not yours ' including company cars. Get an international accident declaration form from your insurance broker. It is simple to follow and will help when sorting out any mishaps. Be sure before signing anything in French.

Rules

A set of spare bulbs is compulsory pick one up from the nearest hypermarket if you forget before travelling. A warning triangle is a good idea ' compulsory if you're towing. Make sure headlights are adjusted to avoid dazzling other drivers or being pulled over by the police.

  • Always stop completely at STOP signs or the police can fine you.
  • Never drink and drive. Tests are random and common. Fines are very heavy and instant.
  • Never speed. Speeding fines are heavy and must be paid on the spot. The police can impound the car in extreme cases.
  • Beware of Priorite droite drivers from the right having priority. Still used in town centres and famously at the Arc de Triomphe.
  • Always pay and display ' clamping is on the increase.
  • Seatbelts must be worn by all. No children under 10 in the front unless in a specially adapted rear-facing seat.
  • All UK cars in France must also display a GB sticker which is usually available from cross Channel operators.
  • Motorcyclists must wear crash helmets.
  • Instant fines exist for illegal use of bus lanes.

Speed Limits

  • 130km/h on toll motorways (110 km/h when wet).
  • 110km/h on dual carriageways and non toll motorways (90km/h when wet).
  • 90 km/h on other main roads (80 km/h when wet).
  • 50 km/h in towns and villages ' sometimes slower so watch for signs.
  • Portable speed cameras can flash from back and front.
  • Speeding fines are normally charged on the spot.

Germany

Driver's minimum age 18. Children under 12 or less than 1.50m in height are forbidden to travel in the front seat without a child restraint in Germany.

Italy

Holders of old style green licences require an International Driving Permit when driving any vehicle in Italy. Green style licences can be exchanged by completing DVLA form D1 from any post office. Driver's minimum age 18.

Luxembourg

Driver's minimum age 18.

The Netherlands

Driver's minimum age 18. Children under 3 must travel in the rear with a safety system adapted to their size. Children 3-12 may travel in the front if they are in a special safety seat.

Spain

EC model format UK licences (pink or pink/green) accepted. Holders of old style green licences require an international Driving Permit when driving any vehicle in Spain. Green style licences can be exchanged by completing DVLA form D1 from any post office. Driver's minimum age 18.

Switzerland

Driver's minimum age 18. Children under 7 are forbidden to travel in the front seat without a child restraint.