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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.

Like many other European countries, Italy has low emission zones and you will need a sticker to enter the Bolzano-Bozen Autonomous Province and locals will be provided with this sticker for their vehicle. However, non-locals are required to show the car’s documents in case of a police check.

Stuff to take with you

There are Italian 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

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

If you’re going between the months of November and April to certain snowy areas then you will need to fit winter tyres to your car or carry snow chains. If you don’t do this, you can pay a fine of up to €318.

On the Move

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

Like the majority of other European nations, motorists drive on the right and overtake on the left. However, overtaking is prohibited when approaching level crossings, on bends, at the brow of a hill at intersections or when there is limited visibility.

When it comes to priority, this is mainly given to vehicles coming from the left- unlike in the UK. However, on mountain roads where there isn’t enough space for two vehicles to pass each other, the descending vehicle must reverse to a passing point.

When it comes to horn use, it is almost always discouraged unless absolutely necessary and in urban areas this is the case in Italy. However, in rural areas the use of a horn may be compulsory in certain circumstances and if a motorist is carrying a person who is seriously ill or has been injured then a horn should be used regardless of any imposed limits.

Like in the UK, you are not permitted to turn right on a red light and all passengers must wear a seatbelt or face the risk of a fine. It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure all passengers under the age of 18 have their seatbelts on.

It is illegal to use a mobile phone whilst driving but the use of a hands-free is permitted. Like France, headphones and earphones are prohibited whilst driving but a single earpiece is allowed. The fine for being caught using your mobile phone is €1,697.

If you’re interested in getting from A to B as quickly as possible, you may want to take the Autostrada. Italy’s toll roads work in a similar way to the French system and a Telepass may be recommended as this system automatically deducts money from your linked bank account- rather than having to keep paper tickets.

The drink driving limit is lower in Italy than it is in the UK. For drivers who passed their test more than three years ago, the limit is 0.05% compared to 0.08% for the UK.

Speed Limits

Urban Areas


Outside Urban Areas




Speeding fines are nothing to gloss over in the UK- with a maximum penalty of £2,500 if caught on a motorway. However, the maximum fine you can pay for speeding is €4,400.

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.

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