Driving advice European driving
Make sure you know everything you need to know about driving in the European country you'll be visiting, including what precautions you may need to take and specific items you may need to carry in your car with you.
Read our hundreds of car reviews to find out which cars have the best boot capacities for transporting suitcases and everything else required for a holiday abroad.
Driving in Austria, France, Italy, Portugal or Spain
|Driving abroad: the rules|
|Austria a||France b||Italy c||Spain d|
|Valid UK driving licence insurance and vehicle documents||Compulsory||Compulsory||Compulsory||Compulsory|
|Passport carried in car||Not compulsory||Not compulsory||Not compulsory||Not compulsory|
|GB/NI sticker e||Compulsory||Compulsory||Compulsory||Compulsory|
|Warning triangle||Compulsory||Compulsory||Compulsory||Two are required (front and back)|
|Breathalyser f||Not compulsory||Compulsory (2 required)||Not compulsory||Not compulsory|
|International Driving Permit (IDP) required for UK licence holders||No (unless you have the older style green UK licence)||No||No (unless you have the older style green UK licence)||No (unless you have the older style green UK licence)|
|Radar/Laser speed camera detectors g||Prohibited||Prohibited||Prohibited||Prohibited|
|GPS speed camera locators g||Permitted||Prohibited||Permitted||Permitted|
|Mapping based speed camera locators g||Permitted||Permitted||Permitted||Permitted|
|Replacement bulbs||n/a||Recommended||Recommended||Yes (and the tools to change them)|
|Seat belts||Compulsory for front and rear (if fitted)||Compulsory for front and rear (if fitted)||Compulsory for front and rear (if fitted)||Compulsory for front and rear (if fitted)|
|Spare petrol can||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|On the spot fines||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Snow chains/winter tyres||Yes h||Yes h||Yes h||n/a|
- If you are using the Austrian motorways (autobahn) and ‘S’ roads, you must display a ‘Motorway Vignette’ – a sign that you place on the inside of the windshield (which you can purchase at some petrol stations in neighbouring countries). If driving in wintry conditions, it is recommended that you fit either winter tyres or snow chains.
- You need to obey the ‘priority to the right’ rule that gives way to vehicles joining a road from the right (even if they have stopped at a road junction). Exceptions to this include motorways, roundabouts, and if there are orange diamond and white road signs. Also trams have priority.
- Private and hire cars are not permitted to enter historic centres of many Italian cities without an official pass
- Be wary of 'bogus' Spanish police – all traffic-related police officers should be in uniform, and unmarked vehicles will have flashing 'Policia' signs.
- In some countries outside the EU a sticker is still required even if you have euro-plates
- French rule came into force 1st July 2012, with 'soft' introduction meaning fines will start being levied from November 2012
- The rules in France prohibit any device that informs the driver in real time, of the presence of a fixed or mobile or a police check
- Snow chains must be fitted when using roads covered in snow only
Requirements in other popular countries
You’ll need your driving licence and passport with you in the car at all times when driving in Australia.
You’re required to carry a fire extinguisher if driving in Greece.
Russia and Belarus
It is reportedly against the law to drive a dirty car in both Belarus and the Russian Federation.
USA and Canada
In some US states and in Canada (except parts of Québec), it’s okay to turn right on a red light – you can ‘jump’ the lights as long as no other vehicle is approaching. Rules can vary from state to state.