The Ultimate Checklist For Driving In Europe In 2020

9 Sep 2020

Even though travel abroad is slowly returning back to normal since the Coronavirus outbreak, it’s understandable that us holiday makers might not be feeling like jumping on a plane or any other form of public transport any time soon. So, what a better time to enjoy your European holiday by car instead? Whether it’s a roadtrip to your favourite European destination or hiring a car abroad, we have you covered with this ultimate checklist for driving in Europe in 2020. 

Keep reading to find out more about the essentials you need when driving in Europe, the European driving laws, the effects of Coronavirus on driving in Europe and some helpful tips for before and during your travels.

What Essential Documents Do I Need When Driving In Europe?

When driving in Europe, there are a number of essential documents that you must take in order to drive safely and legally:
  • Valid driving licence and national insurance number

  • Vehicle insurance proof

  • ID including your passport 

  • Ensure your vehicle’s tax and MOT is up to date


Your V5C Certificate or ‘Logbook’

 Your V5C certificate, also known as the logbook, is the red paper document issued by the DVLA which is registered to you (the official keeper of the car). It features information such as the ownership, name and address of the registered keeper.


Travel Insurance Documents

 Digital copies of your travel insurance are fine but it’s recommended that you print travel insurance documents out in case your gadgets are stolen before or during driving in Europe.

European Breakdown Cover Policy 

 European breakdown cover when driving in other European countries is just as important as when you’re driving as you can break down anywhere. You should review your European breakdown policy before driving anywhere in Europe, ensuring that it covers the country you are planning on driving to. 
You can then work out the cost of your European breakdown cover by requesting a quote from your chosen company. You can find and compare European breakdown cover policies here.

International Driving Permit (IDP) - Post Brexit

As well as a standard driving licence, you may be required to have an international driving permit (IDP) when driving in Europe after the UK’s exit from the EU happening in December 2020.
You can get an IDP for as little as £5.50 which are available to purchase in most post offices. However, if you are driving to and around more than one European country, different IDP versions might be required. Therefore, you might need to purchase both the 1949 and the 1968 IDP versions. You can click here to find out whether you need an IDP when you drive in Europe.

A Crit’air Sticker For Driving In France 

Crit’air is a ‘clean air’ windscreen sticker valid in some French cities which identifies your vehicle’s emissions. This is important when driving in France as your vehicle’s emission level could restrict you from driving through some parts of France. If you’re planning on driving to or around France, you can check here whether you will need to purchase a crit’air sticker.


Green Card Insurance 

The Association Of British Insurers (ABI) states that those driving in an EU state should bring a paper cover of their green card insurance. Green card insurance is an international certificate of proof that you have third-party driving insurance for the European country you are driving to. 
To receive your green card insurance, you should contact your vehicle insurer who should be able to provide you with the international certificate within a month. There are rumours that green card insurance may stop being a necessity after Brexit in December 2020, but if you are planning to drive in Europe this year then it is still compulsory!


A GB Sticker 

As it stands, you only need to display a GB sticker in your car when driving in Europe if your car doesn’t already have EU registration plates with GB initials on. However, after Brexit in December of this year, all vehicles registered in the UK will have to display a GB sticker when driving in any of the EU countries.

What Equipment Should I Take When Driving In Europe?

As well as essential documents needed when driving in Europe, there are also a few pieces of equipment that you might need to have in your vehicle when travelling:
  • A reflective jacket for each passenger in the vehicle - these are compulsory in France and many other European countries

  • A warning triangle - two are required when driving in Spain

  • Headlamp beam deflectors or deflector stickers 

  • Safety helmets for motorcyclists 

  • A first aid kit - they are compulsory in France, Austria and Germany


Will Coronavirus Affect Me Driving In Europe?

Even though the Coronavirus lockdown in the UK and other parts of Europe is easing, it doesn’t mean that it hasn’t left effects on the rules of driving in Europe. So, in order to avoid a second spike of Coronavirus, there are some rules that have been put in place for road users:

Maintaining Strict Hygiene Standards 

Whether you need to rest, take a toilet break or do a fuel stop, it’s evident that you will need to stop frequently when driving long distances. So, areas such as terminals, motorway rest areas and service stations must maintain high levels of hygiene all throughout Europe to avoid the spread of Coronavirus.

Managing Passenger Flow

In the busiest areas, there may even need to be a reduction of passengers in certain areas in order to avoid overcrowding which can encourage the spread of Coronavirus. Therefore, you might find some stops or stations might be closed in order to combat passenger congestion. 
For those areas that are open, you might also be ordered to wear protective clothing, such as a mask to protect yourself and other passengers from the spread of Coronavirus, so always keep one at hand.

Restrictions On The Euro Tunnel

When driving in France using the euro tunnel, it is now permitted that passengers must fill out a declaration form which can be found here. This is to declare proof that you do not have any Coronavirus symptoms and are safe to drive in France from the UK.
On the other hand, if you are driving back to the UK from France, you are ordered to complete a health check form no earlier than 48 hours before which can be found here, and you must have your registration number ready when arriving at the Eurotunnel terminal.
The euro tunnel also currently has limited shops and services open due to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak, but their drive-thru is still operating which is available for limited refreshments.

Our Top Tips For Driving In Europe

Prepare To Drive On The Opposite Side

As you are probably already aware, when driving in Europe, most countries drive on the right side of the road. This also means that if you hire a European car, the steering wheel will be on the right-hand side too. The only European countries that drive on the left side are, of course, the UK and also the Republic of Ireland, Cyprus and Malta. 
So, a top tip for driving in Europe is practice extra caution when out and about as you will have to get used to driving on roundabouts anti-clockwise!

Plan Your Travel Route

As handy as sat-navs can be, we recommend that you look into your chosen European route before setting off to ensure you know exactly where you are going. In fact, France has actually banned using sat-nav equipment that detects speed camera locations so you might not even be able to use your sat-nav when driving in some European countries.

Have Some Spare Change At Hand

As well as countless refreshment stops you might take along your European adventure, you might come across some toll roads that you will be charged to enter. Therefore, one of our top tips when driving in Europe is to make sure that you have enough spare change in the right currency to pay for these tolls. 
In the European countries, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Switzerland it’s essential that you purchase a toll road sticker (vignette) for proof that you have paid these tolls.

Take A Well-Earned Break

Even driving in familiar conditions can be tiring after a long while, so imagine driving on unknown roads in a foreign country for a long period of time. This is why our next tip for driving in Europe is to take frequent breaks and stops to refresh your ability to concentrate.
In the UK, the Highway Code recommends taking a break for at least 15 minutes every 2 hours of driving, so when driving in Europe, you might want to consider a similar regime. 

Prepare For Any Accidents

The fact you will be driving in unfamiliar surroundings with different traffic rules means that a traffic collision or accident could happen if you are not concentrating. The first crucial steps you should take if you are involved in an accident whilst driving in Europe is to contact your insurer immediately and call the police. 
If it is possible, always ensure that you collect the driver’s details who you had the collision with and the details of any other witnesses. You should also take photographs of the damage done to your vehicle.

Beware Of Increased Wear & Tear

It’s evident that due to you driving for long periods of time around Europe that your vehicle is going to be much more prone to wear and tear. So, leading on from the last tip for when driving in Europe, get used to checking parts of your car, such as the mirrors, windscreen and lights much more often for any damage before it’s too late.

Don’t Forget Basic Safety

It’s obvious that because you are on holiday and might be travelling with other people that you will get overexcited, often causing you to lose concentration. This is why our final tip for driving in Europe is to stick to the basic safety rules that you know. It’s easy enough to think that just because you are in a different country you can get away with not following the basic safety rules that you would usually follow back home, but you are wrong. 
Whilst driving in another country in Europe, it’s even more vital that you practice the basic safety measures that you would practice back home in order to stay safe and avoid fines or penalties. These basic safety measures may include wearing a seatbelt, sticking to the speed limits or using your phone whilst driving.

Follow The Country’s Driving Rules

There are a number of rules of the road that we must follow when driving in the UK, but this doesn’t mean the same rules apply in other European countries. In fact, there may be a number of new, unexpected rules of the road that you must abide by when driving in Europe. Ensure that you take these rules into account when driving in Europe to avoid any hefty fines or penalties!

Are There Any Traffic Laws In Other European Countries?

Following on from our final tip for driving in Europe, follow the country’s driving rules, we recommend that you familiarise yourself with the traffic laws and entry requirements in the country you are driving to. This is important because they can vary depending on the country. 
We also covered some equipment you should take above, but this can also vary depending on the country, so you should research compulsory items that you must specifically take to the country you are going to be driving to.
To find out more information on the traffic laws in the European country you are driving to, click here.

Where Can I Find The Best Cars To Drive In Europe?

Are you planning on driving somewhere in Europe this year but don’t have a substantial vehicle that will live up to your standards? Well, at Cars2buy, we provide you with a simple tool which you can use to easily search and compare a range of different car deals which includes both car leasing and purchasing options. All you have to do is simply select the make and model of the vehicle you’d like to compare deals on and you’ll be presented with a list of all the best price comparison car leasing options or purchasing options.
You can use our website to find more information about our car leasing comparison deals or car purchasing deals.