Driving Abroad Checklist

Thursday 10th June 2021

You’ve booked the hotel, dug out your sun hat and bought a bunch of road trip snacks – there’s just a few more steps to take before you’re ready for driving overseas. Whether you’re hiring or taking your own vehicle, this guide has plenty of top tips for driving abroad, a plan-ahead timeline for getting organised and a complete driving abroad checklist.

Driving Abroad Tips

Driving in a different country can feel daunting – especially if you’re a nervous driver. Here are our top tips to get you feeling confident behind the wheel.

  • Get comfortable being on the right - unless you’re heading to Malta, Cyprus or the Republic of Ireland, you'll be driving on the right. If you’re in a hire car, make sure you take some time to get used to the gear stick and handbrake being on the right. If you’re driving your own vehicle, adapt to your new position on the road and take extra care when overtaking.
  • Know the rules - driving laws vary widely across Europe. Take note of speed limits (they may be in km), differing road signs and mandatory essential kit before setting off on your trip.
  • Take it slow - it’s easy to slip back into UK driving mode. Take extra care and leave more space between cars – this way, you’ll be safer, and your passengers can soak in the views.
  • Sat Nav is your friend - there’s nothing worse than getting lost down narrow European roads, especially when language barriers are involved. Make sure your car has a Sat Nav, and a charging cable.
  • Don’t let lack of research take its toll - if you're driving around Europe, you'll sometimes need to pay a toll to use the road. You can mostly pay by card, but it’s handy to carry plenty of notes and coins just in case. In some countries, like Portugal, you need - to pre-pay tolls – so it’s important to do your research beforehand.
  • Let’s talk insurance - if you’re taking your own car, your UK vehicle insurance gives you a minimum of third-party cover to drive your vehicle in EU countries, but it may not protect against theft or damage. If you’re hiring a car, insurance is usually included, but its best to double check.

Check out the plan-ahead timeline, and the complete driving abroad checklist below to help you feel as prepared as you can before the trip.

Plan-ahead Timeline

6 weeks before you go…

If you’re taking your own car, depending on the country, you may need to allow time to get a green card (proof of vehicle insurance) from your insurer through the post (don’t panic if you’re reading this too late – some insurers allow you to download and print a green card yourself).  

3 weeks before you go…

Check the overseas driving rules. You may need to order equipment, such as reflective jackets, headlight converter stickers or a warning triangle. Some European cities require emission stickers, and these must be bought weeks before you go abroad. A GB sticker might also be requested in certain countries.

1 week before you go…

Check your Great British or Northern Ireland Driving Licence is valid. There is still time to renew online if not! You will need to take this on your travels.

If you’re taking your own vehicle, then you need to take your logbook (V5C). The DVLA can send you a duplicate in 5 working days if you have misplaced your copy.

1 day before you go…

Check if you need an international driving permit (IDP) and which type this is. This depends on which country you’re visiting and how long you are staying. Getting an IDP over a Post Office counter takes around five minutes on a turn-up-and-go basis.

And you’re off!

Remember to stay calm and have fun! And don’t forget to stay topped up with fuel!

Complete Driving Abroad Checklist

  • Road Trip Snacks
  • Sat Nav
  • Toll Coins and Notes
  • Prescription Glasses (if required)
  • Full Tank
  • Equipment (if required)
  • Emission Stickers (if required)
  • GB Sticker (if required)
  • Valid UK or Northern Ireland Driving Licence
  • IDP (if required)
  • Logbook (V5C) (if taking own vehicle)
  • Insurance Certificate (if taking own vehicle)
  • VE103 Certificate (if hiring vehicle in the UK)
  • License ‘Check Code’ (if hiring vehicle)

For more tips on what to pack for a road trip or tips for driving with children in the car check out our handy guides.

Lastly, if you’re taking your own vehicle abroad, it’s important to make sure your car has been thoroughly serviced before the long drive ahead. Book in for your car service now at your local Formula One Autocentres to get your vehicle ready for its journey abroad!

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