skip to main content

We can all romanticise a European road trip and whether it be somewhere cold for skiing or somewhere sunnier to soak up the rays you may decide to drive rather than fly.

Whether it’s Germany, France, Spain, Italy we’ve got some tips for travel and how it differs to driving in the UK.

Each European country has different emergency numbers but you can dial 112 anywhere in Europe and you will be connected to the nearest emergency service.


Before you set off, you’ll need to make sure you’ve packed a few things. Let’s start with the boring, but crucial, documents.

  • Full UK Driving Licence (Valid)
  • Proof of ID (passport)
  • Motor Insurance Certificate
  • V5 Reg Document
  • Breakdown Cover Documents

There are a couple of stickers you’ll need too. The GB sticker changed to a UK sticker in 2021 so make sure you have one displayed clearly on the rear of your vehicle- if you haven’t got ‘UK’ on your numberplates.

You’ll also need to make sure that you display a Crit’Air sticker in your windscreen as that dictates the emission level of your vehicle. This is similar to a Clean Air Zone or Ultra Low Emission Zone and gives priority parking to vehicles producing lower emissions. There are also some time-related restrictions for vehicles creating more emissions in ZCRs (French Low Emission Zones).

French toll roads can hugely improve your roadtrip progress. To save even more time, you can purchase a toll road tag . The tag links to your card and charges you when you drive through a toll barrier but it means you won’t have to scrabble around for change or stop at the barrier- as it will open automatically as you drive up to the barrier.

Stuff to take with you

There are French laws which dictate what you need to take with you in your car but we’ve added some other useful items to the list too.

RAC European Driving Kits are handy ways of hitting multiple birds with one stone.

The kits include:

  • Two Hi Vis vests
  • Two Warning Triangles
  • 22pc First Aid Kit
  • Bulb Spares and Replacement kit
  • Headlamp Deflectors
  • UK Stickers
  • Torch

It’s important to remember that the hi-vis vests need to be to hand, so can’t be buried in the boot.

There are some obvious other things to take with you such as:

  • Sun Cream
  • Engine oil and water
  • Up to date Road Map and/or Sat Nav
  • Refreshments and Water
  • Extra medication
  • Blankets
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Photocopies of important documents
  • European Health Insurance Card

On the Move

Once you have packed your car for driving in France, you’ll need to know how the French driving law differs to the UK.

French authorities aren’t keen on you knowing where the speed cameras are or, more accurately, having a device/system that notifies the driver as to where they are. If you leave this engaged and French police catch you, you can be fined up to €1300 as well as the device and vehicle being seized.

It is illegal to wear headphones/earphones whilst driving in France too so make sure you play your music proud and out loud.

Other than driving on the right in France, it is important to remember that motorists travelling downhill must give priority to motorists travelling uphill and between the hours of sunset and sunrise, headlight flashes should be used instead of the horn- unless absolutely necessary.

Now we come to speed limits. The first way in which they are different is how they are measured- in km/h rather than mph. If you have a digital speedometer, it would be a good idea to change the measurement to make things easier.

There aren’t any penalties in France for not carrying a breathalyser whilst driving anymore but it is important to remember that the legal limit for alcohol in the blood is lower than in the UK- 0.05% compared to 0.08%.

Regarding mobile phones, it’s a similar story in France to the UK. It is illegal to use a mobile phone whilst driving- even in the case of handsfree. It isn’t illegal to speak on the phone if the audio plays through your car’s speaker but if French police deem the call distracting, then you can still be presented with a €135 fine.

Speed limits



Dual Carriageways

Other Roads

Built-up Areas











Low Visibility






These speed limits apply to all vehicles under 3.5t, that includes motorhomes and caravans. However, if the trailer/caravan weighs more than the vehicle there are some speed restrictions (65km/h if the trailer is less than 30% heavier than the vehicle; 45km/h if the trailer is more than 30% heavier than the vehicle) and you are not permitted into drive in the outside lane of a three-lane motorway.

All that’s left to do after all that packing and planning is enjoy the ride. Tick some of the essential packing off your mind with a Family European Driving Kit.

Product Code: