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Rules for UK Drivers in Europe

Considering the proximity between the United Kingdom and mainland Europe, and the readily accessible modes of transport to get you where you need to go, it is vitally important to be educated on the rules and regulations for UK Drivers in Europe.

You can use your Great Britain or Northern Ireland driving license in all of the European Union or European Economic Area, and Switzerland.

If you are caught breaking the law, the authorities are able to get the details of the vehicle’s registered keeper from the DVLA. Your vehicle must also be insured, to see more about Fleet Insurance click here

It is important to stay aware and things have the real possibility of changing once Brexit comes into effect.

Documents to carry


You don’t want to get in trouble with the law anywhere you go but especially on holiday as you may have problems communicating and navigating through an alternative legal system.

As in the UK you can potentially be stopped at any time and will be asked to show certain documents, it is, therefore, essential to have all necessary paperwork on your person.

You must carry:

  1. Your valid full driving license
  2. A copy of your DVLA driver record and license check code if needed
  3. An International Driving Permit
  4. Your Vehicle’s registration document
  5. Your Motor Insurance certificate
  6. Your passport
  7. Your travel insurance
  8. You may need certain visas for certain countries

Borrowed, hired or leased


If you are taking a company owned, hired or borrowed vehicle to Europe you will be required to have a letter of authorisation from the registered keeper on you, as well as the original vehicle registration document or a Vehicle on Hire Certificate (VE103)

The VE103 is the only legal alternative to the V5c and you can get one from BVRLA.

GB Sticker

You must display a GB sign and you are eligible for a fine if you don’t. For the GB sticker to be valid it must fulfil certain requirements.

  1. The GB letters must be black and on a white elliptical background. They must be at least 80 mm high with a stroke width of 10mm.
  2. If you’ve got euro-plates you don’t have to display a conventional GB sticker within the EU
  3. Outside of the EU, some countries will still require a GB sticker even if you have Euro-plates, is it is always safer to display one.

EU Driving Hours

The main EU regulations pertaining to driving hours are that you must not drive more than: 

  • 9 hours in a day
  • 56 hours in a week
  • 90 hours in any 2 consecutive weeks

All driving you do under EU rules must be recorded on a tachograph

EU Breaks and Rest

The main points of EU rules on breaks and rest are that you must take

  • At least 11 hours rest every day
  • An unbroken rest period of 45 hours every weak
  • A break or breaks totalling at least 45 minutes
  • Your weekly rest after 6 consecutive 24 hour periods of working, starting from the end of the last weekly rest period taken

Tips and Tricks

  • When you pass other drivers, be bold but careful
  • Be sure you understand the lane marking, in France a single solid white line in the middle of the road means no passing in either direction, in Germany its a double white line
  • In Europe, it is illegal to turn right on a red light unless a sign or signal specifically authorises it
  • Remember you are driving on a different side of the road so you may want to have some practice or alternatively rent a car so the steering wheel is in the optimum place.
  • Many European countries require that you have your headlights on anytime the car is running even if it is during the day
  • Summer is the prime time for roadworks in Europe
  • Some major motorways in Europe may require a toll, and the fees are usually based on the distance you drive
  • Remember the culture of the place in which you are driving as the attitude of locals when driving may be more aggressive and furthermore, if rules are not strict they may abuse these rules
  • Ensure any international license you have is fully up to date to avoid fines, penalties or otherwise if stopped by police on the roads (source: Artisanne)

Emergency Number

It is important to remember that you can dial 112 anywhere in the European Union in case of an accident or any other incident of distress.

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