FAQs For Driving Abroad

If you’re thinking about coasting your way down to the French Riviera this holiday season in search of that sweet summer sun then you’ll need to be aware of a few key things about  driving abroad to help you avoid any unnecessary headaches on your trip. In this article we’ll be dealing with the most frequently asked questions we hear from customers when they come to us for a service before driving abroad.

Will my breakdown cover still apply in Europe?

Not necessarily, and therefore it is paramount that you do not assume that your breakdown cover in the UK will provide you with cover once you cross the Channel into mainland Europe. Double-check to see whether or not you are covered and then take out the appropriate cover if you require it.

Likewise, if you are covered with a fully comprehensive breakdown cover policy this may not apply in Europe, where instead you may only receive the bare minimum. You will therefore need to take out additional cover.

Finally, you need to make sure that your policy covers you completely for roadside assistance, recovery and repatriation in order for you to avoid any costly payouts and potentially ruining your holiday.

What licence do I need to drive abroad?

For countries in the European Union and European Economic Area you only need your Great Britain or Northern Ireland driving licence in order to be permitted to drive abroad.

Countries outside of the EU and the EEA may have different regulations with regard to allowing you to drive there, and so you should consult the AA, RAC or other official body to find this out when you plan your trip. For some countries you will need an international driving permit, which is an inexpensive permit that can be obtained from official bodies.

What side of the road do I need to drive on?

Which side of the road you need to drive on depends on the country, and as such it pays to find this out beforehand. Most European countries drive on the right-hand side, with only the UK, Cyprus, Malta and the Irish Republic driving on the left.

If you are in a left-hand drive car in a country where they drive on the right, take extra care while out and about on the road. It can be a lot more difficult to overtake vehicles safely when you’re driving on the opposite side of the car to everyone else, and safety must remain your top priority.

Will my car be road-legal abroad?

To ensure that your car is being legally driven on the road while abroad you will first have to have got your vehicle up to legal standards in the UK by paying your road tax, getting insured, and having an MOT if your car requires one.

But this is just the first step. Next you will need to make sure your car is safe for use on the road in foreign lands. Your headlights, for instance, are angled for use on roads where you drive on the left, pointing away from where the eyeline of drivers on the opposite side of the road would be approaching you. When you drive on the right, however, this means your headlights will be shining right into the eyes of oncoming drivers. Stickers which are widely available can be applied to your headlights to divert the beams away to the right of the road, protecting other drivers and thereby yourself from the dangers of glare.

You will also need to purchase and attach a GB sticker to the rear of your car if your number plate is not already designated as GB.

Furthermore, in France it is a legal requirement to have a visibility jacket per person in your car stocked in your breakdown kit, as well as a warning triangle to notify drivers early on of a breakdown ahead. They will also need a spare bulb kit in case one blows on the road – the French are insistent that on the grounds of safety a blown bulb must be replaced on the spot rather than as soon as possible. You should look up what the law states in each country before heading there so you don’t accidentally break the law.

Should I service my car before driving abroad?

Yes, you really should. Servicing your car before any long trip is a good way to avoid forking out for any costly repairs further down the line that you could have fixed beforehand. A service will look over all the components of your car and ensure that they are in peak condition, checking your car even more than an MOT would. A service before your holiday greatly reduces the chances of your car breaking down while you’re abroad, allowing you to enjoy your holiday completely.

Auto Exhausts & Tyres offer the highest standards at the greatest prices when it comes to servicing your car. Be it a full car service or a shorter interim one, our fully trained and experienced mechanics will ensure your car is in the best shape and up to scratch with industry regulations. For more information, or to book a car service at our garage in Lincoln, contact our friendly team today.