Driving advice Driving abroad advice

Kangaroo road sign Australia

Australia is one of the countries where you do drive on the left

Know the driving laws of the country

There are only four European countries where you drive on the left (the UK, Ireland, Malta and Cyprus). 

Worldwide, you drive on the left in popular destinations such as Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa.

Make sure you know which side of the road to drive on and the local speed limits. Watch where you park too – hefty fines are imposed for illegal parking on the continent or you can get towed away.

Read our guide to appealing a parking ticket

Toll roads

Many European countries have toll systems. If you can’t pay, you’ll receive a fine. Ensure you drive with plenty of small change in local currency and stay out of any pre-paid lanes (unless you have registered for this fast-track system).

On-the-spot fines are usually asked to be paid in full, but can vary from country to country. If in doubt, check the FCO website before you travel.

Keep your passport with you

If hiring a car, never leave your passport with your hire company. They may demand it, but under no circumstances should you use this as security on the car.

Check your flight times

You don’t want to be arriving in the early hours to find your car hire desk has shut up shop for the night. You may also feel too tired to travel on the road after a long flight, so perhaps consider staying overnight at a hotel near the airport.

Make sure you're covered through your travel insurance for missed flights.

Carry ID at all times

You may need to produce this if stopped by the police – remember to take both parts of the UK licence.

Is your car roadworthy?

If using your own car, it's essential to check this before you set off. Check the spare wheel too, and also carry a spare car key and tool kit.

In some countries, carrying a warning triangle is compulsory. Find out which European countries here

Car GB sticker

Always display a GB sticker on your car

Phone numbers you need

Have emergency helpline numbers to hand. It’s also a good idea to know the telephone number of your accommodation and that of the local British consulate.

Learning the language

If you are travelling around a country, it’s useful to know a few car-related phrases in the local language should you encounter any problems. Keep a phrasebook handy.

Car stickers

A GB or NI sticker must be clearly visible on the back of your own vehicle if you’re driving outside the EU. We recommend you display stickers, even if your number plate includes this information.

Don’t overload your vehicle

Make sure you can see out of the rear window. If hiring a car, think about how much space you will need in the boot – bulky cases may not always squeeze into tight spaces.

Tips and advice on driving and road safety abroad can be found on the FCO website. Alternatively, call the travel advice line on 0845 850 2829.

Other sections in this guide

  1. Overview
  2. What you should take with you
  3. Driving abroad advice
  4. European driving
  5. Car hire abroad