So, you’re moving to France, well you’ll want to keep the car’s log book on hand if you want to avoid a hefty fine upon involvement in a traffic accident or offence! Moving to Germany? Do you know what the upper speed limit of the Autobahn is? There isn’t one! Moving to Holland? Did you know that a red triangle light at a roundabout means roundabout traffic has right of way? Only if the light is OUT does traffic entering the roundabout have right of way. Europe is a patchwork of different (and continually changing!) traffic laws, guidelines and protocols.
The legal side of foreign driving – particularly when crossing multiple borders – is rarely simple. However, for the most part, prudence, rationality, patience and airing on the side of caution will get you far.
As a UK citizen, your UK driving license covers all EC/EEA countries. It’s worth noting that the age limits of a country override UK age limits. If you’re seventeen-year-old UK driving license holder, wave goodbye to driving until you reach eighteen in Germany, Holland, Norway, Sweden, France, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Finland, Luxemburg, Belgium, Malta and Portugal!
To drive in a non-EC/EAA country, purchase an IDP (International Driving Permit) for £5.50; applications are available at the Post Office. Most IDPs are valid for a year and are non-renewable from abroad. After one year applicants must sit the native driving test of their domicile country.
Familiarising yourself with local traffic protocols and etiquette will take a little time and patience. Our advice? Be cautious, be polite, be diligent.