It pays to make sure you’re on the right side of the law when you travel abroad. Here’s what you need to know.


Here are the most important documents you need with you:

  • Passport. Remember, you cannot now add children to a parent’s passport. Children, including babies, need their own.
  • Driving licence. You must carry this at all times, or risk an immediate fine. If you have a photocard driving licence (recommended), you must carry the paper counterpart with you at all times. You may require an international driving permit (IDP) if you want to travel to countries outside the European Union (EU).
  • MoT certificate. If you’re involved in an accident, the authorities may ask for this, or it could be required at random vehicle checks.
  • V5C registration document. Carry this in case you have an accident – it allows the police to establish who is the legal owner.
  • Green card (International Motor Insurance Certificate). This proves that you have motor insurance cover for your legal liability to third parties – a requirement in all countries. A green card is no longer necessary in the EU (a UK certificate of motor insurance does the same thing) but it’s important if you enter or pass through non-EU countries.
  • European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Vital to ensure that you receive healthcare in the EU, if you need it.


Essential equipment
You should carry these items: 

  • Warning triangle. Legally required in most countries. In Croatia and Slovenia, you need two if you’re towing. In Spain and Turkey, you need two at all times.
  • Spare bulb kit. Strongly recommended in most European countries and mandatory in Andorra, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain.
  • First aid kit. Recommended in most countries, but mandatory in Austria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland.
  • Other equipment you should take is a fire extinguisher, tow rope and reflective vest(s) (compulsory in France). In Spain, if you wear glasses, you must carry a spare pair. Some countries require you to carry snow chains. (This is not a full list, so check the requirements of any countries you intend to visit.)


Other information

  • A nationality (GB) plate is essential. You can be fined if you don’t have one. Numberplates carrying the EU symbol with the letters ‘GB’ beneath it do not require a GB plate.
  • Beam deflectors must be fitted so you don’t dazzle other drivers.
  • Dipped headlamps (not sidelights) are essential in poor visibility in most European countries
  • Vignette You must display a vignette (tax disc) in your car’s windscreen to travel on motorways in Austria, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
  • * From 1st July 2012 all vehicles travelling in France must

    carry a breathalyser “NF” (Norme Française) approved.  The AA recommend

    that two are carried.


More information



  • Driving Abroad by Robert Davies (Haynes Publishing, £12.99, ISBN 1 84425 048 2)
  • The European Driver’s Handbook, The AA (AA Publishing, £9.99, ISBN 0 74955 643 9)