Riding abroad

Riding abroad

If you’re going to ride abroad, remember to check the rules of the road. It won’t just be the side of the road on which you ride that’ll be different!

For example, when riding in France

  • you must carry a spare set of light bulbs
  • you should carry a breathalyser (if you have a single-use breathalyser, carry two so you still have one if one is used or is faulty)
  • you mustn’t use a device that can detect speed cameras: if your satellite navigation system is able to do this, you must disable it before riding in France
  • you mustn’t filter through stationary or slow-moving traffic
  • you must carry the original vehicle registration certificate (V5C) and insurance certificate with you
  • you’ll need your driving licence and passport
  • if the bike isn’t yours, you must have a letter of permission from the registered keeper.

Motoring organisations such as the AA and the RAC provide advice on driving rules in European countries and other countries.

Here is some general advice for riding abroad.

  • Make sure you know what the road signs mean: some will be different from those you’ll see in the UK.
  • Ride cautiously and expect the unexpected – the local driving style may be different from that of the UK.
  • Don’t ride when you’re tired; take regular breaks – at least 15 minutes every two hours.
  • Speed limits are often higher than in the UK so cars may approach faster than you are used to.
  • Don’t drink and ride: the legal blood-alcohol limit may be lower than in the UK.
  • Holiday luggage will make your motorbike heavier than usual so allow more time and distance for braking.
  • You should have a GB sticker clearly visible on your motorbike if your number plate doesn’t include this information.
  • Plan your route before you start riding.
  • If you’re involved in an incident, contact your insurer immediately and take photographs of damage to your motorbike.

Download the Foreign and Commonwealth Office leaflet for a useful guide to driving in Europe.

You can ride abroad in European countries with your Great Britain driving licence; in some non-EU countries you may need an International Driving Permit. See GOV.UK for more information about riding abroad.

If you have a driving licence from somewhere other than Great Britain, you can check on GOV.UK whether you can ride in Great Britain.

If you’re taking your motorbike abroad for 12 months or more, you’ll need to tell DVLA. See the guide on GOV.UK for taking vehicles out of the UK.This guide also tells you what you’ll need to do if you’re taking your motorbike abroad for an extended period but for less than 12 months.

Travelling around by motorbike is a great way to see new sights, whether you’re in the UK or Europe. Use campsites to make it a holiday on the cheap or spend the money you save on travel costs to stay in luxury hotels – it’s your choice.

Here’s some advice for what to do before you go touring.

Prepare for a tour

  • Do some maintenance to avoid breakdowns on your trip
  • Load up your motorbike with your luggage to make sure you can ride comfortably and safely with it
  • Check your insurance and recovery service will cover you for your trip.

Plan your tour

  • Decide how far you want to ride each day and which places you want to visit
  • Think about where you’re going to stay – do you need to book campsites or hotels in advance or will you look for somewhere when you get there?
  • Work out whether you’ll need to book ferries or tunnel crossings.

Pack your bags carefully

  • Pick up your documents (see above)
  • Take one more layer of clothes than you think you’ll need
  • Waterproof clothing is useful no matter where you’re going
  • You’ll need a first aid kit and basic toolkit
  • Take a map even if you have a satellite navigation system, just in case it lets you down
  • Make sure your luggage is securely attached to your motorbike and keep it away from parts of the bike that get hot, such as the exhaust pipe.