But after Brexit and Covid, there are some changes you need to know about driving in Europe this summer.
There are few greater pleasures than touring through tree lined avenues in France, scaling the switchbacks of the Alps, cresting the endless rolling hills of Tuscany or seeing the turquoise Med unfurl itself after the dramatic Spanish plains.
For the first time in a few years, British drivers will be back in force on the autobahns and autoroutes this summer, but Covid and Brexit have added extra responsibility on to drivers.
As we return to Europe in numbers this summer, here’s what you and your drivers need to know before they go. Download our handy checklist as a guide.
Yes – your British driving licence is still valid in the EU area (the only stipulation is that you will need to have your licence with you). If you still have a paper driving licence, or a licence issued in Gibraltar or the Channel Islands, you may need an International Driving Permit costing £5.50.
Now that we’ve left the EU, the rules have changed. A Great Britain sticker, or numberplate with Great Britain, or EU identifiers are no longer valid in the European Union. In general, you’ll need a United Kingdom sticker or number plate with a United Kingdom identifier. The rules for what you need to display can be found here.
Usually UK insurance is valid, but you should read the small print so you’re aware of the level of cover you have. You should check with your insurer if your policy has extra cover for events such as theft, damage or roadside recovery too.
Any trailer will also need insurance cover (as above). Additionally, most EU countries require commercial trailers over 750kg GVW (and non-commercial trailers over 3,500kg GVW) to be registered before travelling. Registering a trailer costs £26 and can be done online. A full list of countries requiring registration can be found here.
Vehicle registration documents (the V5C ‘log book’ if the car is owned, or a VE103 if the vehicle is hired or leased).
A United Kingdom sticker to attach to the rear of the car (or trailer).
Essential driving equipment: hi-vis jackets, warning triangle, first aid kit, spare bulbs and headlight converters.
Contact your leasing company/hire company and request the form. There is usually an administrative charge for this. A VE103 form is valid for one year from the date of issue.
Yes, for a start you should have a travel insurance certificate. Also, even though we’ve left the EU, the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) is still valid or, if that has expired, a GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card) can be used. These cards entitle you to access reduced cost or, sometimes, free state healthcare in the EU.
Visas are not required if the visit is for less than 90 days in a 180-day period. But there are specific rules for business travel, such as a requirement for a work permit or visa if you are transferring from the UK branch of a company to a different office in another country. Check here to see what rules apply.
This is where things get more complicated as there are myriad requirements for certain operators’ licences depending on what is being transported (dangerous goods, perishable items, etc) and in what type of vehicle (HGV, LCV, car and trailer, etc). The Government offers a simple, step-by-step guide on transporting goods commercially.
Yes and no. While the EU has agreed to relax entry restrictions, each country within the EU still has its own rules. To check on each country’s individual requirements, click here.
As a general rule, UK travellers are treated the same as their EU counterparts, meaning there are no restrictions for vaccinated travellers (although there are differing versions of being ‘fully vaccinated’ depending on whether or not a booster has been administered). For unvaccinated travellers, a certificate of recovery or a negative test result is required.
The Passport Office is experiencing high demand and, as a result, passport applications are taking up to 10 weeks to process. Be aware that the date of expiry means different things in different countries but, as a general rule, EU countries require the passport to be issued…
less than 10 years before the date of entering the country
valid for at least three months after the day of leaving the country.
Passports can be renewed online – they cost £75.50. To apply, you’ll need a digital photograph, credit or debit card and your current passport.
Remember to always check for any country specific travel and vehicle requirements as these may be different across each European country – and have a great time abroad this summer!