Driving abroad

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

For example, when driving in France

  • you must carry a spare set of light bulbs, an advance warning triangle and a reflective jacket
  • 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 must not use a device that can detect speed cameras: if your satellite navigation system is able to do this, you must disable it before driving in France
  • you must display an official sticker showing your vehicle's emissions category when driving in certain French cities, including Paris, Lyon and Grenoble.

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 driving abroad.

  • Make sure you know what the road signs mean: some will be different from those you’ll see in the UK.
  • Drive cautiously and expect the unexpected – the local driving style may be different from that of the UK.
  • Do not drive when you’re tired; take regular breaks – at least 15 minutes every 2 hours.
  • Speed limits are often higher than in the UK so cars may approach faster than you are used to.
  • Always wear a seat belt and make sure other passengers do too.
  • Do not drink and drive: the legal blood-alcohol limit may be lower than in the UK.
  • Holiday luggage may make your vehicle heavier than usual so allow more time and distance for braking.
  • You should have a GB sticker clearly visible on the back of your car if your number plate does not include this information.
  • Plan your route before you start driving.
  • If you’re involved in an incident, contact your insurer immediately and take photographs of damage to your vehicle.

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

Your driving licence

You can drive abroad in European countries with your Great Britain driving licence; in some non-EU countries, you may need an international driving permit (IDP). See GOV.UK for more information about driving abroad.

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

Taking your car abroad

If you’re taking your car 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 car abroad for an extended period but for less than 12 months.

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