Driving abroad

Don’t drive abroad unprepared - read our advice on insurance, break down cover, accidents and car hire. We've also got tips for motorbike drives, things to look out for if you're a pedestrian abroad and advice on bus and coach travel.Car driving down a winding road/ Getty images

Driving abroad - before you go

  • Familiarise yourself with the driving laws of the country you are visiting – including local speed limits and which side of the road they drive on! 
  • see our travel advice by country for more information on driving.
  • check with your insurance company that you’re fully covered to drive abroad and for breakdown recovery any medical expenses resulting from an accident
  • check whether you need a Green Card for the country you’re visiting – this provides minimum insurance
  • check whether you need an International Driving Permit
  • service your vehicle before leaving the UK
  • check you can comply with the vehicle requirements of the countries you’ll visit.

Don't go without taking:

  • a spare set of car keys
  • fire extinguisher, first aid kit, tool kit, spare bulbs
  • a warning triangle
  • your registration document, driving licence and passport- check if you’ll need an International Driving Permit
  • your UK motor insurance certificate, Green Card (if issued)
  • breakdown policy and contact numbers
  • travel insurance documents
  • emergency helpline numbers 

Whilst you’re away:

  • Drive defensively and expect the unexpected – the local driving style may be different to that of the UK
  • don’t drive when you’re tired and take reular breaks on long journeys
  • always wear a seat belt and make sure other passengers do to
  • don’t drink and drive – the alcohol limit may be lower than in the UK and in some countries there is zero tolerance for drink driving
  • don’t overload your vehicle and ensure you can see out of the back window
  • if you’re involved in an accident, contact your insurer immeadiately and take photographs of damage to your vehicle

Driving you own car

You should have a GB sticker clearly visible on the back of your car if your number plate doesn’t include this information.  You’ll also need headlamp converters if you’re driving on the right-hand side of the road.

Hiring a vehicle

  • Hire from a reputable company – the cheapest deal may not always be the best!
  • insurance cover is often limited to the legal minimum of the country or state you hire in. You could be held personally responsible for any claim for injury or damage over this limit.
  • ask your tour operator or insurer if they can provide top-up insurance to increase your cover. This may be cheaper than buying it abroad.

Motorbikes

  • Make sure your travel insurance covers you before you decide to drive or be a passenger on a motorbike - check the exclusions carefully
  • travelling by motorcycle, scooter or moped is significantly more dangerous than by car - if you’re not accustomed to riding a motorcycle you should not attempt to ride one for the first time abroad on unfamiliar roads
  • if you do decide to hire a motorcycle or scooter, make sure you use a reputable hire company – check that they are licensed to hire bikes to tourists
  • always wear a helmet and protective clothing, whether you’re the driver or a passenger
  • there should never be more than two people on a bike
  • never ride the bike when you have been drinking alcohol
  • if you hire quad bikes check your travel insurance covers you for their use.  Only hire them from a reputable company and find out whether it’s legal to ride them on the public road
  • ensure your insurance includes third party cover

Pedestrians

  • When crossing the road, remember that traffic may from coming from the opposite direction to that you expect
  • wear light coloured clothing wehn walking at night so that you’re clearly visible to drivers
  • don’t assume drivers will stop at zebra crossings
  • jay-walking is illegal in many countries – always cross at designated points
  • face the oncoming traffic when walking along the roadside – this way you will be able to see vehicles approaching you.

Bus and Coaches

If you have concerns over the safety of the vehicle don’t get on and inform the tour rep or organiser.  You should always wear a seatbelt if one is available and avoid travelling in overcrowded vehicles.

See Also

Travel insurance

Useful Links

Association of British Insurers

RAC International Driving Permit - more information on the permit

Travel Checklist

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