Rules For Driving in Europe
Driving in Europe takes you through some spectacular countryside and is a great way to see the continent. However, not every country has the same rules as the United Kingdom so, to help you, we've prepared a short guide for some of the main European countries.
Every country requires you to have a GB sticker and head lamp adjustment. There are also on the spot fines if you haven't complied with the various regulations. Ignorance is almost never accepted as an excuse and you will sometimes be escorted to the nearest cashpoint if you haven't got money with you.
Perhaps take the basics, like headlight replacement bulbs and fuses with you, just in case.
One of the main things to remember is that the drink drive laws are often much stricter and are often severely enforced with large fines and even arrest possible. Also radar detectors are illegal so either don't bring them, or find a way of disabling them.
As the vast majority of road journeys begin in France, the laws in France mean that you'll have the necessary equipment anyway when traveling though other countries.
If you are going to be driving on Austrian motorways and expressways, you must display a Motorway Tax Sticker (a Vignette). They can be bought to cover a year, 2 months or 10 days. The cost for 10 days is currently 10 Euros and the sticker has to be placed in the top left or centre of the windscreen so that the automatic scanners can read them.
They can be bought at petrol stations, post offices and Tabacs (Tabaktrafik) from at least 10km before the border. They can also be bought at Border crossing stations, but it's best to stop and get them when further out, just in case, as you can be fined up to €120, on the spot, if you haven't bought one before you go on the motorway.
If travelling in Austria in winter (1st Nov -15th April) you must have winter tyres fitted, whether there is snow on the ground or not.
The drink / drive laws are the same as France, 0.5mgs per 100ml and the law is strictly enforced. You must always carry your driving license, vehicle registration document, and certificate of insurance. Also compulsory are warning triangles, a reflective jacket or waistcoat ( its recommended that each passenger has one) and a first aid kit. Carry these items in the car, not the boot.
Speed limits are 130km/h on motorways, 100km/h on national routes and 50km in towns.
Many of the laws are the same as in other European countries. Always carry your driving documents (license, registration document and insurance). A first- aid kit is recommended, but not compulsory. A fire extinguisher, in the vehicle, is mandatory as is a reflective vest.
The drink drive laws are the same as other countries such as France and Austria at 0.5mgs.
Speed limits on motorways are 120km/h, 90km/h on National routes and 50km/h in towns (30km/h near schools, churches and hospitals).
The drink drive laws in Denmark are very strict, set at just 0.25mgs. Warning triangles are compulsory and hi-visibility vests are highly recommended, as are first-aid kits and fire extinguishers. Carry your motoring documentation with you in the car.
Speed limits on motorways are 130km/h, 80km/h on national routes and 50km/h in towns.
The following are compulsory in France: GB sticker, a reflective vest, headlamp adjustment, breathalyser kit ( x2. Although carrying a breathalyser is now compulsory, fines are not currently issued) and a warning triangle. Although not compulsory, it is recommend that you carry a fire extinguisher and first-aid kit. These should all be carried in the car, not the boot.
The alcohol limit is lower than in the UK, 0.5mgs, and is rigidly enforced. Radar detectors are also illegal in France, with fines up to €1500and the confiscation of the equipment. Disable or remove any devices.
You must also carry your driving license, vehicle registration document, and certificate of insurance.
Speed limits are 130km/h on motorways, 110km/h on dual carriageways, 90km/h on Route National roads and 50km/h in towns.
32 German cities now require you to display a sticker confirming that your vehicle meets environmental emission standards. The easiest way to purchase one of these stickers, which cost €6, is to visit the Berlin City website, where you can enter your vehicle's registration number and buy online.
Again, drink drive laws are set at 0.5mgs and are strictly enforced. Also, carry your documentation with you. First aid kits, warning triangles and hi-visibility vests are compulsory. Winter tyres aren't technically compulsory but the police have the power to stop you proceeding with your journey if you don't have them in wintry conditions. Given that no-one is psychic, this means that, in effect, they are compulsory.
Speed limits are unlimited (unless shown) on Autobahns, 100km/h on national routes and 50km/h in towns.
The main thing you'll probably notice in Italy is the use of the horn to warn other vehicles that they're being approached. They're officially banned in built-up areas, not that it seems to make a massive difference.
Hi-visibility vests and warning triangles are compulsory but first-aid kits and fire extinguishers are only recommended. You must carry your driving documentation with you.
Speed limits on motorways are 130km/h (110 km/h when wet), 110km/h on dual carriageways, 90km/h on national routes and 50km/h in towns.
The laws in the Netherlands are very similar to the surrounding countries. Hi-visibility vests and warning triangles are compulsory and the drink drive laws are set at 0.5mgs. Always carry your motoring documentation too. First-aid kits and fire extinguishers are recommended but not compulsory.
Radar traps are frequent. Speed limits on motorways are 120km/h, 80-100km/h on national routes and 50km/h in towns.
Portugal charges tolls on many motorways, which are not manually collected. There are various ways to pay including pre-paid tickets or credit. For more information, and a list of toll roads visit the Visit Portugal website.
The police in Portugal may carry portable card machines to issue on the spot fines, so don't speed and their drink driving laws are rigidly enforced if caught.
Hi-visibility vests are compulsory, as are warning triangles and replacement bulb sets. First-ad kits and fire extinguishers are recommended and always carry your motoring documents with you.
Speed limits on motorways are 120km/h, 90-100km/h on national routes and 50km/h in towns.
The drink drive laws in Spain are such that, in effect, new drivers cannot drink at all with the limit set at just 0.1mgs.
Carry your documents with you in the car. Hi-visibility vests and warning triangles (2 are recommended) are compulsory, but headlight bulb kits, first-aid kits and fire extinguishers are recommended, not mandatory.
Speed limits on motorways are 120km/h, 90km/h on national routes and 50km/h in towns.
Switzerland doesn't charge tolls on motorways but, like Austria, you must purchase a “ Motorway Vignette”, priced at CH40.
They're available from petrol stations and post offices around the border areas and at all border crossing posts. Sometimes police patrols will carry them for unsuspecting tourists and simply charge the CH40 rather than the CH200 fine. You can buy them online, in advance, from the Swiss Travel System.
Warning triangles and hi-visibility vests are compulsory and you should carry your motoring documents with you. First-aid kits, spare bulb kits, and fire extinguishers are recommended, but not compulsory.
Speed limits on motorways are 120km/h, 80km/h on national routes and 50km/h in towns.
You can buy the driving essentials you need to stay legal by visiting our shop.
We have made every effort to ensure the details in this feature are accurate. However, we cannot be held responsible for any actions taken in the relevant countries either by yourselves or the authorities.