With foreign travel resuming post pandemic, many of us are ready to get back on the road for holidays abroad. Here is our lowdown on the latest requirements for taking your car overseas, including important considerations on driving an electric vehicle outside the UK.
Ensure you have the correct paperwork
Carrying the right documentation for the country or countries you are visiting is critical, these include:
- Vehicle On Hire Certificate, VE103 – This is necessary for a hired or leased vehicle to show that you have permission to drive the vehicle abroad, it is mandatory in all EU countries as well as some non-EU countries. You can get one by contacting the CBVC team or the BVRLA.
- Driving licence – You will need to take your Great Britain or Northern Ireland driving license with you to drive abroad. Ensure it is still valid and apply online in advance if it needs renewing.
- International Driving Permit, IDP – This allows you to drive in countries where a UK licence alone is insufficient. The Post Office website allows you to check whether you need one and you can apply at your local branch.
- Green Card – A green card is not required to drive in the EU but if you are travelling further afield it may be needed.
- Towing – If you plan to tow a trailer or caravan, you might need to have category BE added to your driving licence. It may also be necessary to register your trailer and have a green card or additional insurance depending on your destination.
- Vehicle Breakdown cover – Check that your fleet policy has European breakdown cover included.
- Travel insurance – Ensure that you have the right level of cover for your holiday and bring the documents with you.
If you are taking your owned car rather than a leased vehicle, you will need to take your V5C in place of the VE103 as well as your vehicle insurance certificate.
Understand the country-specific driving rules
Make sure you fully understand the country-specific regulations for your trip, including speed limits, local laws and rules on child restraints. It will almost certainly be necessary to carry certain items in your car that you would not normally need in the UK:
- UK sticker – As of 28 September 2021, you need a UK sticker (not GB) to travel in the EU. You are required to display a UK sticker on the rear of your car if your number plate contains any of; a GB identifier, a Euro symbol, a national flag of England, Scotland or Wales or if it has no flag or country identifier. If your number plate includes the UK identifier with the Union Jack flag, you do not need a UK sticker.
If you’re travelling in Spain, Cyprus or Malta you must display a UK sticker regardless of your numberplate format.
- Vehicle accessories – Laws vary widely by country, so it is important to check specific requisites. Vehicles may need to be equipped with items including first aid kit, fire extinguisher, reflective jackets, warning triangle, headlamp converter stickers and spare bulbs.
As an example, for France you will need:
- A warning triangle
- Reflective jacket (EN471) – at least one needs to be carried within the passenger compartment of your vehicle – this must be worn before you get out in an emergency or breakdown situation
- Headlamp adjustment stickers
- Emission permits – A number of countries and specific cities require permits for low emission or restricted access zones which you may need to buy before you travel.
Driving an electric vehicle abroad
With the ongoing growth in the electric vehicle market, this year may be the first time that drivers have taken an EV abroad. Important considerations include:
Using the Eurotunnel
EVs are fully allowable through the Eurotunnel and there are free, rapid charge points at both Folkestone and Calais with various charge speeds and all types of charge connectors. There are also Tesla superchargers at both terminals.
The public charging network is extensive across all major western European countries, but this does vary by country so check before you travel. The same connectors are used across Europe and are either CCS or Chademo. Ionity superfast 350KW chargers are much more extensive in Europe than in the UK and whilst they can be more expensive, they are extremely easy to use.
Plan Your Charge Stops Efficiently
As with EV travel in the UK, it is wise to map out routes in advance and plan convenient stops at charge points along your route. The European equivalents of Zap Map in Europe are PlugShare and Chargemap. It is worth pre-registering to use and pay for charge points where necessary.
Look at the most efficient ways to charge your car to save you waiting. Ahead of travelling, check whether your accommodation offers EV charging, this information is now readily available on travel sites such as booking.com and trivago. An increasing number of European supermarkets and drive-through restaurants also now have charge points for their customers.
Once you’re fully prepared, you can relax and enjoy the European roads and that well-earned holiday!
UK Government advice: Driving abroad: Driving abroad on holiday – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
AA Country Specific Driving Guides: Driving in Europe country by country | AA (theaa.com)
International Driving Permit: International Driving Permit | Post Office