Your guide to: Driving abroad

Driving abroad

Letís start off by congratulating you. By reading this article, youíve realised that driving abroad is not just a case of jumping in a car and hoping for the best. There are things to research and learn before setting off.

And if youíre thinking of avoiding flying and taking your car to Europe, you might want to take a look at some used cars in UK first. A long drive might be easier and more fun in a car built for continental cruising rather than city slicking.

Back to driving abroad. The first thing you should check is the official Foreign Office travel advice guidance for the countries youíre set to visit. Done that? Good. Keep reading to learn more.

What do I need for driving abroad?

This varies depending on where youíre going. For instance, you probably wonít need snow chains if youíre driving down to Lake Como.

But weíd definitely suggest taking your driving licence (or the old-style paper licence if you have that) as well as your V5C.

Some countries may want you to have something called an International Driving Permit. You can buy these from the Post Office.


The big one. Before heading off, you need to check whether your insurance covers you driving abroad. You also need to check if youíre insured for the entire time of your trip. Some insurance companies only provide 30 days abroad cover, for example.

Breakdown cover

Much like with insurance, you need to check your breakdown cover. Without adequate coverage, dragging your broken-down car from the continent could cost thousands. You should also look up the individual rules surrounding the physical breakdown because they can change from country to country.


Travelling to Europe? Youíll need to adjust your headlight beam to suit right-hand driving (itís worth remembering in most of Europe they drive on the right), so you donít dazzle other drivers. The easiest way of doing this is by buying a converter kit, which mostly consists of placing stickers over your light. Theyíre cheap and easy to use and can be bought from car specialist shops and supermarkets.

What safety kit should I carry?

Some countries charge large fines for not carrying the correct equipment, so itís worth looking up individual requirements for countries.

In fact, many countries in Europe require warning triangles and reflective jackets (for breakdowns) at all times.

UK stickers

If youíre driving in Europe youíll need some kind of UK symbol. If your car doesnít have the symbol on your number plate, you will have to display one. This is simple enough. Itís a case of buying one from a supermarket or car specialist and sticking it on the rear of your car.

Low emissions zones

In a bid to rid city centres of the most polluting cars, some European cities have low emission zones. More than 180 cities in Europe have them, with some, such as Paris and Lyon, requiring you to have special emissions stickers, assuming your car meets the requirements of course.