Driving while on holiday gives you the same freedom that you may have in the UK – getting from A to B without having to navigate a confusing public transport system. Every year, around two million British motorists take to their cars for driving trips to neighbouring European Union (EU) countries, according to RAC’s Driving Abroad Report.

Driving in a different country can be daunting. You might be in a car that you’re not familiar with, you will most likely be driving on the opposite side of the road, and in most cases, you won’t know how to get to your destination. Our motor experts understand these worries and the complexities of driving abroad and have put together some top tips for you to consider before stepping into the driver’s seat:

  • In some countries, lane systems can appear confusing and driving etiquette can be different to the UK. Make sure to be extra observant and plan your routes before setting off to make following directions as easy as possible
  • Research road signs for the destination you’re going to before starting your journey. It is particularly useful to know the national speed limit in that area
  • If you are travelling abroad with your own car, make sure to pack your driving licence, v5 vehicle registration documents, and car insurance documents – and be sure that your insurance covers you for international driving and breakdown cover. Ideally, a month prior to your trip, check with your insurance company as to whether you will be covered as you may find that your policy will not have the same level of cover as it does for driving in the UK. For countries outside of the European Union, a Green Card can be obtained from your insurer which will prove that you have the minimum legal requirement of third-party liability insurance
  • If you’re hiring a car, make sure the hire company issues a comprehensive collision damage waiver insurance which will cover you for accidents. Keep a note of the contact number for your car hire company so you can easily contact them if you have an accident
  • Some countries have particular laws that require you to carry a first aid kit, warning triangle or spare bulbs. Make sure you research this before driving. It is advised that you place a visible GB sticker to the back of your car if you are taking your own car abroad
  • Check the legal age to drive and research whether there are any particular regulations that apply to driving in a foreign country, for example, having so many years’ driving experience on a  full licence.

If you’re involved in a road accident while driving abroad...

  • Call the police and take a copy of the police report
  • Make notes on the accident, and take photographs if possible, including photos of number plates and the accident location, before exchanging insurer details with the parties involved. If there are any witnesses at the scene, get their full names and contact details
  • If driving your own vehicle, contact your insurance provider as soon as possible to avoid missing any deadlines for reporting accidents
  • If driving a hire car, be sure to report even minor accidents to the local police as reporting once you have left the country can prove difficult. Give your car hire company as much information as you can about the road accident and send them a written report once home. Check your car hire contract as to what charges you may be liable for
  • Whether driving your own car or a hire company’s, do not accept liability as this can affect your claim
  • As soon as possible after the accident, contact your travel insurance provider to seek advice on your level of coverage for medical attention. Some companies have a strict timing policy with a set period for making a claim from the time of the accident, which is worth checking before you travel. It is also useful to keep the contact number for your provider to hand
  • If you seek medical attention, keep a report of any doctor’s notes, hospital documentation, and medical treatment receipts
  • If you can, it might be helpful for you/a member of your family to keep a diary of your appointments or any discussions with hotel staff or management.

If you've been involved in a road traffic accident abroad, our solicitors may be able to help you claim compensation. Learn more about road traffic accident abroad claims

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