Driving in Europe: everything you need to know

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While the open road brings freedom and excitement, you could get stuck if you don’t prepare properly. This is especially true when you drive abroad. 

You need car insurance to drive in the European Union (EU). The financial risk of getting in an accident outside of the UK is higher as you may need to pay to take your car home. Without insurance, these fees can significantly inflate costs. 

Does your car insurance cover you for driving in Europe?

All UK insurers offer the minimum third party cover to drive in the following countries:

  • the EU (including Ireland)
  • Andorra
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Montenegro
  • Norway
  • Serbia
  • Switzerland

However, make sure you have the right cover level as some policies don't cover you for your holiday’s duration or other things like damage and theft.

As always, check your policy book carefully.


What car insurance do I need?

You don’t need specialist cover; you just need to check your car insurance policy covers driving abroad.

All our car insurance tiers come with 90-day European cover as standard except from Essential.

All named drivers on your policy benefit from the cover, but we recommend taking your Certificate of Motor Insurance, although you can access it on MyAccount. It covers you up to a maximum of 90 days in a year. 

Contact us if you need to exceed this limit.

What happens if I have an accident?

If you can't safely drive your vehicle from the accident, you may need to call a recovery vehicle which we'll reimburse once the claim is validated, and any invoices or receipts are submitted.

In most cases, we'll pay a cash sum to replace your undriveable vehicle or the item you're claiming for. We recommended you take your V5 or VE103b document with you to help us process your claim.

If your vehicle is driveable, we'll work on your claim once you're back in the UK. 

Do I need a Green Card to drive in Europe?


Green Cards are no longer required to drive in:

  • the EU
  • the European Economic Area (EEA)
  • Andorra
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • Montenegro
  • Serbia
  • Switzerland

We don’t supply Green Cards for any other country.

European driving laws

Most European driving laws are the same as the UK. 

Crimes like driving under the influence, driving using a mobile device and speeding are universal, and many European countries have stricter limits than the UK.

You can check the European drink driving limits here, and make sure you visit the UK Government’s advice for driving abroad for the latest laws and regulations. 

European driving checklist

In some countries, you’re required to carry certain safety accessories:

  • a red triangle
  • a reflective vest
  • a first-aid kid
  • spare bulbs
  • snow chains and winter tyres if it’s cold
  • UK stickers or identifiers on your number plate 

As of 2021, British motorists driving outside the UK must remove old-style GB stickers or cover them up. 

Instead, display a UK sticker or have the UK identifier on your number plate.

You’ll also need specific documents: 

  • Certificate of Motor Insurance – this acts as evidence that your car is insured
  • a full driving licence – keep this on hand whenever you’re driving
  • International Driving Permit (IDP) – this is for driving in non-EU countries, like Belarus
  • vehicle registration document – this is either the V5 logbook or a VE103 Vehicle on Hire Certificate

Some insurers may also ask you to fill out a European Accident Statement (EAS) form, which allows you to note down all the relevant information if you’re involved in an accident abroad.

If you get in a car accident abroad

The process for collecting details is the same: note the vehicle registration and get the other driver’s details. 

The EAS form covers most of this and provides an agreed statement of facts about the incident. 

Some other things you may need to cover include: 

  • photos of the incident, the third party’s registration and the damage
  • whether the emergency services attended the scene and, if so, their contact details 
  • copies of your travel documents, tickets and/or proof of travel 
  • registration number of the cab or trailer if the accident involves a truck 

How to stay safe when driving abroad

Be careful if someone pulls you over

Criminals can target foreign cars in Europe, often stealing the car after impersonating traffic police or pretending their car is damaged. 

Only stop in well-lit, public areas. Ask for the driver’s ID if they want to see your possessions. 

Theft or other incidents

Follow the same process as you would in the UK to prevent car theft: store away valuables and park in well-lit areas. 

Heed any Foreign Office guidance and read our advice on preventing car theft.

Emergency cash

Having emergency cash doesn’t hurt, but don’t carry too much, and make sure you keep it in a safe, concealed place.

The best places to drive in Europe

Not sure where you’re going yet? No worries - we’ve got you. 

Iceland Ring Road

Iceland’s Ring Road circles the country – it’s just over 1300 kilometres long and meanders through unspoilt views and natural wonders.

It’s a bonus that the drive is relatively easy-going and the roads are well-maintained. You can start in Reykjavik, but most people start the trip near the Golden Circle. 

If you’re visiting Iceland and want an opportunity to take pictures of anything and everything, this is the road trip for you.

The Romantic Road, Germany

Fancy driving through a fairy tale? 

Germany’s Romantic Road is 220 miles of castles, old towns and tucked-away monasteries through Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. 

There are loads of walking trails through the Tauber valley, so it’s good for hikers and those who want a taste of traditional, pastoral German life. 

Amalfi Coast, Italy

The Amalfi Coast has become a tourist hotspot, and it’s easy to see why: a stunning coastline, rows of pastel-coloured buildings and steep, soaring cliffs that meet bright blue water. 

However, the roads are very narrow, and the area’s popularity makes it hard to park. If you start Sorrento, it has easy connections to Rome. After Sorrento, head to Positano, Amalfi and Ravello.

It’s a road steeped in history, and you can even stop at Pompei.

Dubrovnik to Pala, Croatia

Croatia is very popular now, but that doesn’t mean you should skip it.

Dubrovnik to Pala highlights everything that makes Croatia appealing: the Dalmatian Coast, numerous eating spots and the country’s unforgettable beaches.

Pick up a hire car in Dubrovnik, then head to Brac, then Split and end in Zagreb.

Atlantic Road, Norway

The Atlantic Road — a short-but-beautiful drive that hugs the Norwegian coastline — is applauded for its engineering more than its eye-catching Nordic views. 

It was voted Norway’s Engineering Feat of the Century in 2005, and it’s easy to see why – its most picturesque moment is the Storseisundet Bridge, a curving bit of road over numerous small islands.

If you want some natural, sea views with a splash of impressive engineering, this five-mile journey is for you.

Great car insurance options for the whole family