The Manly Guide to Driving Abroad

Driving Abroad Laws

It can be tempting to think simply driving abroad will provide a hassle-free holiday. The open road can provide you with much more freedom without the worry of transfers to and from the airport, cramped buses or even getting stranded – situations any self-respecting man should avoid.

However, taking your car and family abroad involves a lot more than you think. Driving laws, insurance, breakdown cover and documentation all vary across different countries. Below, check out the information you’ll need to make any trip abroad memorable for all the right reasons.

Wherever you go, it is important that you remember these documents:

  • Full driving licence (not provisional)
  • Driving licence counterpart (if you have a photocard licence)
  • Passport
  • V5c (Vehicle Registration Document- must be an original)
  • Car insurance certificate
  • Travel insurance documentation- including EHIC if travelling in Europe
  • International driving permit (depending on country)
  • VE103 Certificate if you have a lease car

It is essential that you check with your insurer that you are covered to drive in different countries, and what level of cover you’ll have for these. Insurance laws are different across countries, but in most, third- party cover is required as a minimum. Your insurer will usually provide you with a number of options if you’d feel more comfortable fully comp. Those of you who are younger must also check your insurer’s policy, as most will not provide European insurance to under 21’s, and some will not even provide it for those under 25.

Those who are leasing their vehicles will need to take along their VE103 Certificate too, according to Vertu Lease Cars. Additionally, to avoid being stranded far from home, make sure your breakdown cover extends to different countries and ask for more detail; the levels of breakdown cover can vary tremendously. Cover which ensures you are provided with a courtesy car and accommodation is much better than one which simply means towing your car away.

As mentioned before, the driving laws are different in each country. It is about much more than simply remembering to drive on the right or left side of the road; many of these countries have different speed limits and require drivers to have equipment in their vehicles. At the same time, many of the British laws apply in European countries; so if you wouldn’t do it in the UK, don’t do it abroad. Prime examples of this are drink driving and the use of mobiles whilst driving. To help you drive abroad, we’ve picked out some of the most popular driving destinations in Europe:


The speed limits in France are 130km/h (80mph) on motorways, decreasing to 110km/h for dual carriageways and 90km/h for other roads, however it is important to observe road signs when driving there.

There are a number of different items that must be carried whilst driving in France. Drivers must have a warning triangle and a high visibility jacket. It is also a legal requirement that you carry a self-test breathalyser; however you may wish to carry two in case one decides not to work. Speed camera detectors have also been banned in France, so if you are planning to use Sat Nav, remember to turn off speed camera alerts.


If you’re going to Germany, it is essential that you carry a reflective jacket, warning triangle, headlamp beam deflectors, whilst it is recommended you also carry a first- aid kit. The limit for drink driving is much lower in Germany at 0.05%, with an absolute 0% tolerance for those who have been driving less than 2 years or those under 21.

Contrary to what most people might think, the Autobahn does have speed limits. While there still are unrestricted sections, most areas have a recommended maximum top speed of 130km/ h which will be indicated by square blue signs, and some areas have legal maximum speed limits which will be indicated by round white signs.

Right-of-way is usually given to vehicles on the right, and it is important to remember that you must use your indicators when exiting a roundabout, but not as you enter it like you would in the UK.


Drivers in Spain must carry the following: 2 warning triangles, headlamp beam deflectors, a spare tyre and a reflective jacket. Speed limits on the motorway in Spain are slightly lower at 120 km/h, going down to 100 km/h for dual carriageways and 90 km/h for ordinary roads.

Similar to Germany, the drink driving limit is 0.05%, so that one pint before driving might not be worth it. The risk of street crime in Spain is slightly higher so make sure you keep your money and passports in one safe place.


Again, drivers in Italy must carry a reflective jacket, warning triangle and headlamp beam deflectors. Failure to carry these items can lead to hefty fines. Speed limits are similar to the other European countries ranging from 130 km/ h for motorways going down to 90 km/h for other roads and 50 km/h in built-up areas.

Some Italian drivers can be fast and aggressive so be careful and alert at all times; lane-hopping and late braking are not uncommon. Zona Traffico Limitatos (ZTL’s) are areas from which cars are prohibited, and most cities in Italy have these zones so watch out!


A reflective jacket, warning triangle, headlamp beam deflectors are required in Belgium, and it is also recommended that you carry a first aid kit and fire extinguisher. The maximum speed limit for the motorway is 120 km/ h, and a minimum speed limit of 70 km/h should be observed. Other roads are limited to 90 km/ h.

Similar to other European countries, the blood alcohol limit is 0.05%, and hefty fines can be given if you are over the limit. Trams also have priority over other traffic, so if one stops in the middle of the road, you must stop too. Traffic is fast in Belgium, and a high level of speeding has resulted in a slightly higher accident rate. We therefore suggest that you are cautious if you are travelling to Belgium and take care!


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