Essential Guide: Preparing your Car for a European Road Trip

European Driving

There are certain rules and regulations set down by EU law that you’ll need to follow if you’re planning to take your car abroad with you on holiday. European countries vary in terms of what requirements they place upon drivers. This post shows you what you’ll need to consider for your European road trip.

Before You Go

Before you set off on your grand tour of Europe, make sure your vehicle is in good working order. The best idea is to get your car serviced in advance of your journey to make sure nothing is untoward. Check the coolant, oil and water, tyre pressure and thread.

The Paperwork

Driving abroad requires you to bring along the relevant documentation. The below is a list of what you’ll need in the EU:

  • Motor insurance certificate or Green Card
  • Full driving licence – paper and card together
  • ‘Europlate’ – GB sticker
  • Insurance documents
  • Breakdown policy documents
  • Travel insurance documents

If you have a hire vehicle that you’re taking on your Euro-trip, you’ll need a VE103 document that you’ll have to buy from a certified automotive body. This document is necessary so that you can prove you’re authorised to drive the vehicle.

If you’re taking your car with you for less than 12 months, you’ll need to take your V5C registration document (your logbook) with you. Ensure it’s up to date before you travel. It can take up to 6 weeks to get an updated log book back in time after updating.

Additionally, if you take your car abroad for less than 12 months, and you’re UK registered, the car will still be subject to UK laws and regulations, meaning you must make sure you’ve got the tax sorted out.


In certain countries the EU you can be fined on the spot for not having certain safety equipment with you in your car. There are different rules for different countries, but the following are the ones that are compulsory in most EU countries:

  • GB Sticker
  • Warning Triangle
  • Headlamp beam converters
  • Hi-visibility reflective jacket
  • First-aid kit
  • Breathalyser
  • European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) Card

Breakdown Cover

There are few worse things on holiday than being stranded with a broken down car in a different country without cover. Especially if you’re taking a long drive through the continent, getting European breakdown cover is really important. It can be tempting to skip the cost, you could be ending up spending even more for foreign roadside assistance or repairs.


Make sure you’ve checked your insurance well before your trip to make sure you’re covered when driving outside of the UK. In most cases, you’ll need to make sure you tell your insurer you plan on driving your car abroad. Normally, third party cover is extended automatically, but this is the most basic form of insurance, so if you want more reassurance, look into your options for a more comprehensive add-on. If your car needs repairs, for example, you’ll have to pay up.

With so many things to consider, make sure you have all the information you need in advance of your trip to avoid unplanned cost, inconvenient situations and any legal or practical issues.

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