Tips on driving abroad

Read our tips on what to look out for when you’re driving abroad

Using a car abroad is a great way of discovering a country. However, it's essential to know the regulations and insurance implications.

John Brady, Head of Commercial at John Lewis Insurance, tells you what to look out for.

Q & A with John Brady

Q. What's your background and what experience do you have in providing Car Insurance advice for drivers abroad?

I've worked in financial services for 20 years, including banking, credit cards and insurance. The last five have been spent at the John Lewis Partnership, where I helped to launch and develop John Lewis Insurance, including our personal insurance cover for homes, travel, pets, weddings, events, and of course, drivers.

John Lewis Car Insurance gives you up to 90 days cover for travelling in the European Union.

Q. Do drivers abroad still need to have a Green Card?

A. It depends where you're going. The Green Card is designed for drivers in Europe. It acts as proof that the insurance taken out in the country where your car is registered meets the minimum legal requirements of the country you're visiting.

However, most European countries don't ask for a Green Card any more. Usually the Certificate of Motor Insurance issued by your insurance company is enough. If you're planning to travel outside these countries, you'll need to let your insurance company know as soon as possible before you travel.

Q. Are there any things you need to have with you when you drive abroad?

A. Yes, it's essential to have:

Keep these things with you when you're driving, but remember not to leave them in your car. It's also a good idea to have:

You should also check for any other driving requirements that apply to countries in which you’re intending to travel.

Q. How old do you have to be to drive abroad?

A. You need to be aged at least 18 to drive in Europe and at least 21 years old if you want to hire a car.

Q. Do I need an International Driving Permit (IDP)?

A. An IDP is a formal document that translates the details on your driving licence into several languages. This allows foreign authorities to check your identity and driving permissions with ease, for example, the type of vehicles you're allowed to drive and how long your licence is valid for.

A current full UK driving licence is valid in most European countries and ony a few countries require IDP.

Q. How do I get an IDP?


Remember that you have to apply for an IDP before you leave the UK.

Q. What are the rules about car lights abroad?

A. You don't need yellow headlamps in France any more, but you should adjust your headlamps for driving on the right. Most motoring accessory shops and motoring organisations sell headlamp beam converters.

Dip your headlights or use sidelights when driving through tunnels. You must drive with dipped headlights on all roads at all times in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, and in Finland you have to use dipped headlights outside built-up areas.

Q. Have you got any expert tips for us?

A. Different countries have different regulations, but there are a few things that are always useful to remember:

Find out more about our Car Insurance 

Terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions and eligibility criteria apply.

John Lewis Insurance is a trading name of John Lewis plc. Registered in England No. 00233462. Registered office: 171 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 5NN. John Lewis plc is an appointed representative of UKAIS Limited (No. 02613429). Registered in England and Wales at Prospect House, Gordon Banks Drive, Trentham Lakes North, Stoke on Trent ST4 4TW. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (financial services register 307223).

Get a Car quote online