This is a summary of the legal requirements for driving in Europe - you need to be aware of the laws for the country you are visiting, plus any that you may pass through on the way. While many countries have similar requirements, there are some specific laws regarding spare bulbs, hi-visibility jackets and the use of speed camera detectors that vary country to country.
If you are looking for additional information, driving tips and guides, please see our range of European Driving Guides. These give more information on the driving culture across the various countries in Europe, as well as some more details on the legislation. If you want to make a comment or correction on any of this information, please see the specific country driving guide, or contact us.
Whether hiring a car locally, or driving across to the continent in your own vehicle, it is your responsibility to ensure you have all the mandatory equipment. Our European Travel section has a range of products available at prices lower than most hire companies or local service stations.
Simply select the country you are visiting from the drop-down menu to view the compulsory driving requirements for the select country.
- The minimum age at which a visitor may drive a car.
- UK driving licenses which do not incorporate photograph are recognised but, drivers must be able to produce photographic proof of identity (e.g. passport). Top
- All valid UK licenses should be accepted. However, this is not guaranteed on older all green style UK licenses. Drivers should consider voluntarily updating them before travelling abroad. Alternatively, older licenses may be accompanied by an IDP. Top
- Before taking a vehicle abroad contact your motor insurer or broker to notify them of your traveling arrangements, and ask their advice. It is important to know what level of cover you will have and what documents you need to prove it. Top
- GB Stickers are compulsory within the EU unless your UK registration plates display the GB Euro-symbol (Euro plates) which became a legal option from 21 March 2001. The Euro plate is only legally recognised in the EU; it is still a requirement to display a GB sticker when travelling outside the EU. Top
- Not required for two-wheeled vehicles. Top
- Although it is not compulsory for visiting motorists to carry a warning triangle, their use is compulsory in an accident or breakdown situation so your are advised to carry at least one warning triangle. Top
- Spain: One warning triangle is compulsory for non-Spanish registered vehicles; two for Spanish registered vehicles. Note: Drivers of non-Spanish registered vehicles should consider carrying two triangles as, regardless of regulations, local officials may impose on-the-spot fine if only one is available.
Croatia: Two triangles compulsory for vehicles towing a trailer. Top
- The use of hazard warning lights or a warning triangle is compulsory in an accident/breakdown situation. However, a warning triangle should always be carried as hazard-warning lights have no effect at bends or rises in the road, or may become damaged or inoperative.
- Compulsory for vehicles with an unladen weight exceeding 1524kgs Top
- Wearing a hi-vis jacket is compulsory if the driver or passengers exit an immobilised vehicle on carriageway, in Italy at night or in poor visibility, in Spain on all motorways and busy roads. In Croatia the wearing is compulsory whenever you have to get out of the vehicle at the roadside in an emergency. In Portugal and Norway the actual law applies to residents only, but local officials may impose an on-the-spot fine. In Belgium the wearing of the reflective jacket only applies to the driver, it must be worn should you be stranded on a Belgian motorway or on a major road or you stop at a place where parking is not allowed. In France drivers must have one warning triangle and one reflective jacket for each passenger in their vehicle. (the requirement does not apply to two or three-wheeled vehicles). Top
- Headlamp adjustment for older vehicles can be done by using simple adhesive masks on the headlamp glass. For newer vehicles with factory fitted HID, Xenon or many Halogen headlamps it may not be so easy. Check what you must do well before your departure by reading your handbook or contacting a dealer for your make of vehicle. Without adjustment the dipped beam will dazzle oncoming drivers and this could result in a fine. In some countries it is compulsory to use dipped headlights at all times when driving during the day. Note: this adjustment is not required for motorbikes as the beam pattern is more symmetrical, but check that any extra loading has not affected the beam height. It is recommended that spare bulbs are carried for any lights that may be easily replaced - spare bulbs are compulsory for some countries, and for Spain you must also carry the tools to change them.Top
- Sweden: Police are not authorised to actually collect fines, which must be paid in accordance with notice instructions.
Italy: Police will collect a quarter of the maximum fine amount from drivers of foreign registered vehicles.
Ireland: Police are not authorised to actually collect fines, they will issue a notice which must be paid within 21 days.
Croatia: The fine does not have to be paid on the spot; however it does need to be paid within 8 days. Top
- Portugal: Visiting drivers of 17 years of age may encounter problems even though they hold a valid driving license in the UK.
- Outside built up areas, during snow or rain causing poor visibility. Top
- Compulsory during daylight hours if the visibility is poor. Also for Croatia during daylight hours from the last Sunday in October to the last Sunday in March. Top
- Strongly recommended as their carriage is compulsory for vehicles registered in that country. Top
- Many countries now stipulate that GPS based navigation systems which have maps indicating the location of fixed speed cameras must have the ‘fixed speed camera PoI (Point of interest)’ function deactivated. Top