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What are the rules and regulations when I’m driving in Europe?

You might have extensive driving experience, but if you’re planning on driving during your next trip abroad, you need to be aware that driving rules and regulations can differ from country to country.

Depending on which European country you’re visiting, there may be compulsory equipment requirements, differing speed limits, rules around child passengers and using your lights.

We’ve selected the two countries that are most popular with British holidaymakers[1] to showcase just some of the ways their rules and regulations differ…


If you wear glasses, you’ll be required to carry a spare pair with you and you mustn’t use your horn in a built-up area, unless it’s an emergency. You’re legally required to have a spare wheel and the tools to change it, at least one warning triangle (it’s advised that you carry two), and a reflective jacket for every person travelling with you. If you’re planning to hire a car in Spain, make sure you check they include these necessities. If they don’t, you’ll have to bring your own – or you could face being fined.

In some one-way streets in Spain, you’re required to park on the side of the road with even house numbers on even days of the month, and the uneven numbered side of the road on uneven days. This is only in selected cities, so try to follow the lead of the cars already parked. There have been numerous incidents of bogus policemen targeting drivers of UK cars, especially those towing caravans, so be on guard during your trip[2].

Speed limits can vary in Spain, so you’ll have to read signs carefully and be aware that the limits are different if you’re towing a trailer or caravan.

For more information on driving in Spain, click here >


If you’ll be driving a car in France, you’re legally required to carry a warning triangle, snow chains, at least one reflective jacket (carried within the passenger compartment) and one certified breathalyser. Depending on which area you’re visiting, you may need to apply for a ‘Vignette’ sticker to drive in low emission zones (Paris, Lyon and Grenoble).

Headphones and headsets aren’t allowed to be worn by drivers in France, and if you use a sat nav, the ‘fixed speed camera’ function must be turned off. Before your trip, you should make yourself aware of the different speed limits, which can alter depending on the weather, your location and your vehicle. You should also familiarise yourself with the most common road signs and phasing, which can change the priority, for instance ‘Cédez le passage’ on a roundabout means cars already on the roundabout have priority. If there’s no sign, those approaching the roundabout have priority.

For more information on driving in France, click here >

Are you covered?

Before driving anywhere other than in the UK, check your car insurance policy covers you, or you could be making a costly mistake. You may only be covered for driving in selected countries, or your insurer may only give you third-party cover as standard. Third party cover is the minimum level of cover, and means if an accident was your fault, your insurer would pay to fix the other car or property but you’d have to pay for all the repairs to your own vehicle. Plus, you wouldn’t be covered at all if your car was stolen or if there was a fire

If you have a car insurance policy with us, you’ll be pleased to know we give you fully comprehensive cover for up to 90 days in Europe and selected other counties, though terms and conditions apply. If you’d like to find out more, please click here >