Tips for Driving Abroad

Intending to drive abroad? Driving regulations vary wildly from country to country. For instance, from 2012, drivers in France, foreigners included, have been required to carry an unused, and unexpired, breathalyser in their car. Some countries expect you to have a fire extinguisher and authorities in Spain demand spectacle-wearers to carry a spare pair. Spain also bans the use of dashcams. On-the-spot fines can be given for non-compliance to these rules, however ridiculous they may seem. So before driving anywhere other than in Britain, itís wise to do some research about the logistics and motoring regulations of the country you plan to visit.


First things first, are you licensed to drive abroad? An International Driving Licence is usually all that's necessary for travel around Europe but if youíre travelling further afield, itís important to check whether you need an IDP (International Driving Permit). The AA and RAC websites provide details about which countries require the permit and details about how to apply for one.


If travelling in your own car, particularly if you are driving a really expensive car like an Aston Martin, or other valuable car, like a check with your insurer that youíre covered for the country youíre travelling to. Insurance companies generally have little problem with travel throughout the EU but may be unwilling to cover you for more exotic trips. Some policies provide third party cover as standard for international journeys but you may have to pay extra to get fully comprehensively insured. If youíre hiring a car, be sure to choose a reputable agency and double check all terms and conditions. Companies generally offer the most basic cover and then charge extra for more comprehensive insurance and reducing the excess.

Breakdown Cover

Dealing with a breakdown in a foreign country in a language you donít speak can send stress levels through the roof. Itís a good idea to check that your car is in good working order before going away and getting the car serviced is one sure way to put your mind at rest. Before leaving the country you should also check whether your breakdown cover covers international travel. Some policies enforce limits on the number of days abroad for which they are prepared to provide assistance. Itís worth noting down the numbers of your breakdown cover (in hire cars too) and your insurerís claims line, just in case.

What to take

In contrast to the UK, many other countries insist on drivers carrying various items of motoring kit and documentation. This will definitely include:
ē GB stickers
ē Headlight converters
And may include:
ē Breakdown kit: high-visibility jacket, warning triangle, first aid kit, replacement light bulbs, fire extinguisher
ē Winter gear: winter tyres, snow chains
ē Documentation: driving license including paper counterpart, vehicle ownership documents, insurance documents, passport, visa, authorisation from the registered owner if driving a company car
Itís important to check regulations for the specific places youíre travelling to as rules for each country vary.


Be prepared for different driving cultures and poor road surfaces. Research your route thoroughly so you know whether youíre travelling on a motorway or likely to end up on a dirt track. Donít drink and drive. The UK is relatively lenient on how many units youíre allowed to consume before you get behind the wheel but many other countries have a zero tolerance policy. Whilst itís easy to adapt to driving on the right, itís at times of tiredness and when faced with navigational problems that youíre likely to switch to autopilot and go sailing around a roundabout the wrong way. The best advice is to take plenty of breaks and to be sure of your route.

Copyright 2012 Paula Bryan All Rights Reserved