Driving abroad - what you need to know

If you’re driving abroad, make sure you have the right insurance and other road essentials for your trip. 

A driver abroad puts a suitcase in their hire car

We look at the important documents you need to gather before you drive abroad.

As well as some key pieces of kit to keep in the car. 

 

Driving in Europe checklist

These are the key things to check before driving in or through Europe.

Use these links to jump to a section:

 

Do I need a green card to drive in Europe?

A green card is an internationally recognised document that acts as proof of insurance in Europe and other countries abroad.

But you no longer need a green card to drive in the EU and Ireland, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia and Switzerland.

However, according to the GOV.UK. website you may still need to carry a green card to drive in other countries in Europe, including:

  • Albania
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Moldova
  • Russia
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine

You can get a green card from your insurer for free, but make sure you leave plenty of time to get one before you travel.

 

What car insurance do I need to drive in Europe?

All UK vehicle insurance should provide third-party cover to drive in:

  • The EU – including Ireland
  • Andorra
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Norway
  • Serbia
  • Switzerland

Depending on your car insurance policy, your insurer may only provide the most basic third-party cover when driving in Europe.

Which means your provider should pay out if you damage another car, but not if you damage yours or it gets stolen.

You may want to add comprehensive European car insurance to your policy to give you peace of mind.

Check with your provider before setting off.

And if European cover is offered as part of your policy, make sure you know long it covers you for.

Some insurers will put a cap on the number of days you’re fully insured for while driving in Europe.

And remember each country has different driving rules, so avoid falling into motoring traps by brushing up on your knowledge of the law.

 

Driving in Europe after Brexit

The UK is no longer part of the EU.

In most cases, you won’t need an international driving permit to drive through Europe.

But if you have a paper driving licence or your driving licence was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man, you’ll need to check with the embassy of the country you’re visiting.

 

What vehicle documents do I need to take when driving in Europe?

When driving in Europe you should have the following documents ready for inspection:

  • Vehicle Registration Certificate (V5C)
  • Valid driving licence or an IDP (if you need one)
  • Certificate of vehicle insurance or a green card (if you need one)
  • Passport
  • Visa if needed – check GOV. UK
  • VE103 certificate if you’re hiring a car

If you can’t find these documents, don’t worry, you should be able to replace the missing paperwork quickly.

 

Do I need breakdown cover when driving in Europe?

Some breakdown policies will include European breakdown cover, but it’s worth checking.

It might be tempting to cut corners, but the cost of repair and repatriation can be quite high.

So it’s worth getting sufficient breakdown cover

 

European driving kit

In the UK, you’re not required to carry any particular equipment with you when driving.

But in some European countries, it’s compulsory to have certain items.

You may already have some of the gear as part of your breakdown kit.

Standard items include:

  • Warning triangle
  • Reflecting or high-vis jackets
  • Headlamp converters
  • Spare bulbs for lights
  • First aid kit

These items will help if you find yourself unfortunate enough to breakdown.

Always check before setting off as different countries have different rules.

For example, when driving through France,you need to display an air pollution sticker.

Speed camera detectors are also illegal, which is also true if you’re driving in Spain.

 

Driving abroad checklist

If you’re driving further afield that Europe, there are some extra things to consider.

 

Green card outside of Europe

According to the Motor Insurance Bureau you’ll need a green card to drive in:

  • Islamic Republic of Iran
  • Israel
  • Morocco
  • Tunisia

You get can get a card, which acts as proof of vehicle insurance, by contacting your insurer.

 

International driving permits

If you’re driving outside of Europe, chances are you’ll need an international driving permit (IDP).

An IDP lets you drive in more than 140 countries.

So if you’ve ever fancied driving in Thailand or want to take a road-trip through the US, getting an IDP should be top of your list.

It’s a multi-language version of your driving licence, but make sure you bring your original UK driving licence with you, too.

There are different types of permits – the one you’ll need will depend on the country you’re driving in. 

Here are the permits you'd need in some holiday destinations.

Country or territory Type of IDP
Andorra
1949
Argentina
1949
Australia
1949
Austria
None
Azerbaijan
1968
Bahamas
1968
Barbados
1949
Belgium
None
Bosnia and Herzegovina
1968
Brazil
1968
Bulgaria
None
Cambodia
1949
Canada
1949
Cape Verde
1968
Chile
1949
Croatia
None
Cuba
1968
Cyprus
None
Czech Republic
None
Denmark
None
Dominican Republic
1949
Egypt
1949
Fiji
1949
Finland
None
France
None
French Polynesia
1968
Georgia
1968
Germany
None
Greece
None
Haiti
1949
Hungary
None
Iceland
None
India
1949
Ireland
None
Israel
1968
Italy
None
Jamaica
1949
Japan
1949
Laos
1949
Lebanon
1949
Madagascar
1949
Malta
None
Mexico
1926
Monaco
1968
Montenegro
1968
Morocco
1968
Netherlands
None
New Zealand
1949
Norway
None
Peru
1968
Poland
None
Portugal
None
Russian Federation
1968
Serbia
1968
Seychelles
1968
Singapore
1949
Slovakia
None
Slovenia
None
South Africa
1968
South Korea
1949
Spain (including Balearic and Canary Isles)
None
Sri Lanka
1949
Sweden
None
Switzerland
None
Thailand
1949
Turkey
1968
United Arab Emirates
1968
United States
1949
Vatican City
1949
Vietnam
1968

 

What car insurance do I need to drive abroad?

As with driving in Europe, you’ll need to ensure you’re covered to drive abroad.

You should check with your insurance provider to see if you’re protected.

You may have to pay to add it onto your car insurance policy.

And you should consider breakdown cover, too.

 

What documents do I need when driving abroad?

You should have the following with you when driving outside of Europe:

  • Your international driving permit
  • UK driving licence
  • V5C logbook
  • Green card, if needed
  • Certificate of car insurance
  • Passport
  • Visa, if needed – you can check GOV.UK to see if you need one. [link to this page]
  • VE103 certificate if hiring a car

 

What else should I do before driving in Europe or abroad?

Before you set off on your trip it’s worth: