The British Vehicle & Leasing Association (BVRLA) has issued a warning about taking a leased or rental vehicle abroad. Please make sure that you are in possession of a VE103 form (vehicle on hire certificate)
If you are travelling in mainland Europe and you fail to produce this form or the original V5 document then the vehicle could be impounded. These are the only documents that the authorities will accept. Cases have occurred where drivers of leased or hired vehicles have been stranded for several days whilst they await acceptable documents which they could produce to the local authorities. Your leasing company should be fully aware of what should be required and provide you with the correct document.
If you are planning to travel through France, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Norway, Portugal or Spain it is now compulsory for all cars to carry a red safety triangle (see below) & a yellow fluorescent safety vest in case of a breakdown. If you are hiring a car, check that the equipment comes supplied. In some countries there are certain other safety items that drivers are obliged by law to carry:
- Fire Extinguisher: essential in some countries, compulsory in Greece
- First Aid Kit: essential in some countries
- Spare Bulbs & Fuses: advisable for all countries & compulsory to carry a set or spare bulbs in Spain & certain other countries
- Snow Chains: a legal requirement in alpine countries throughout the winter months
- Warning Triangle: Compulsory in most countries. They must be placed at the rear of a broken down vehicle on an open road at night, in poor visibility during the day, or on a bend in the road or on a hill. Two red warning triangles must be carried in Spain as a legal requirement.
Click to download a table of European countries and some of the equipment that drivers are obliged by law to carry as well as the countries where headlamp adjustment is required.
UK registered vehicles must display either a Euro-Plate or a GB plate near the rear number plate when travelling in the European Union (EU). Non-EU countries still require a GB plate on the back of any UK registered motor vehicle, caravan or trailer.
When travelling through the countries that produce wine do not be tempted into that extra glass if you are driving. European laws are stricter that the U.K. Currently in the U.K you are allowed a maximum of 0.8mg/ml of alcohol per litre in your blood.
January 2013 - the French government announced that the implementation of the sanction for drivers not carrying a breathalyser – a fine of €11 – has been postponed indefinitely.
So theoretically you are still required to carry a self-test breathalyser when driving in France but there is no current legislation demanding a fine for non-compliance.
The original official announcement stated that one unused, certified breathalyser must be produced showing the French certification mark NF. Carrying two single-use breathalysers will ensure that if one is used or damaged, you will still have a spare to produce. The breathalyser produced has to be in date - single-use breathalysers normally have a validity of twelve months.
Other European countries limits are:
- 0.8g - Malta, Luxembourg, Ireland
- 0.5g - Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Netherlands, Slovenia
- 0.4g - Lithuania
- 0.2g - Norway, Poland, Sweden
- No alcoholic drink is permitted when driving in the following countries: The Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Romania & Slovakia.
Some things that you may not be aware of:
- It is now compulsory in Italy to use dipped headlights during the day when travelling on motorways & major roads outside cities
- Speed camera detectors are illegal in France, if you are caught in possession even if not in use you could face a prison sentence, a fine, confiscation of the device and your vehicle. Ensure you remove the device before travelling in France.
- In Spain & Switzerland drivers who wear glasses must carry a spare pair in the glove box in case theirs are broken or lost. You could be facing an on-the-spot fine if you don't.