, What do I need to drive in Europe?Whilst using public transport or transfers provided by your tour operator offers convenience and relaxation, self-driving holidays offer adventure, freedom, and flexibility. By driving your own vehicle you can literally travel where you want when you want – the open road is yours to command and you can literally make your holiday up as you travel. Furthermore using a hire-vehicle means you are not confined to your villa or hotel – you can simply get in your vehicle, pick a destination and head off!

Europe is a fantastic and accessible continent to drive through – many of the countries have border crossing that allows vehicles to travel through (providing you pass the checks etc). Furthermore, this continent features a plethora of magnificent historic cities such as Rome, Madrid, Budapest, Amsterdam, and London. If you wanted to plan a road trip and explore Europe, self-driving is the way to go! You could easily travel from Spain to France, and then on to Belgium and the Netherlands and into Germany for example.

Whilst driving a car in Europe may offer the adventure of a lifetime, you must still adhere to various rules and regulations and be prepared! This article provides insight into what you will need to drive in Europe, together with the benefits of using a hire-care service for your road trip.

Driving Checklist – The Essentials!

Before driving any car in Europe, it is best practice to create a checklist and to be prepared. Whether you are driving your own vehicle or using a hire-car you should still ensure that you have everything you need and that you are prepared should you have an accident or a breakdown. There is nothing worse than driving in a foreign country and your vehicle malfunctioning – people naturally panic. Being prepared will minimize this level of stress and panic and ensure that you can cope with any unforeseen situation.

The following checklist contains important documents, equipment, and miscellaneous items that we advise taking with you when driving in Europe:


  • Valid driving license (check if you need the paper version or card)
  • Vehicle insurance certificate
  • Personal identification (passport for example)
  • Travel insurance certificate
  • Breakdown cover policy and certificate
  • Valid MOT and Tax certificates/sticker


  • High-vis jackets (preferably one for each passenger)
  • Warning triangle (if you have a breakdown to warn other drivers)
  • Home country ID sticker (most vehicles will have the country of origin on the No. plate)
  • First aid kit
  • Breathalyser (required by law in some countries)
  • Headlamp beam deflectors


  • Fire extinguisher
  • Torch
  • Satellite navigation or an up-to-date road map
  • Food supplies and water
  • Pocket dictionary
  • List of useful phrases

Whilst these items are not all necessary, we believe you should give serious consideration to each one. Furthermore, some of the items listed are actually a legal requirement – for example, you are required to carry a breathalyzer in France. To avoid any potential mishaps, perform research beforehand on the country or countries you are visiting and check their road safety laws.

Furthermore, if you are using a hire-car service you should check the vehicle's history and ask the company to provide the relevant documents and certification such as the MOT certificate and Tax reference etc that may be required. Hire-companies should provide this information freely to make your driving experience that bit easier and safer.

Other Considerations

Aside from the above checklist, there is a series of other considerations to make before driving in Europe. Although Europe is one continent and many countries are part of the European Union, each country still maintains its own driving regulations and laws. Consider the following pointers and be sure to check regional and national variations:

  • Which side of the road does a country drive on
  • What is the minimum driving age
  • What is the requirement for headlight usage
  • What items must you have in your vehicle as standard
  • How are speed limits measured (KMPH or MPH)
  • What is the national speed limit
  • What pedestrian etiquette is practiced
  • Are there any restricted areas

By researching the above pointers you should ensure that you do not run into any trouble or unintentionally break a national law whilst driving. If you are unsure of anything then check it out beforehand! Pedestrian etiquette is particularly important – not all countries have the same rules and approach to such things as pedestrian crossings and who has the right of way.

The information provided may seem like a lot to take in, but if you print off the checklist and do a little research before your holiday there is no reason why you cannot have a truly memorable driving experience. Hiring a car in Europe really can open up a world of adventure and Drivalia understands this – our hire car service is comprehensive and all our vehicles are road safe and ready to drive.
Start your European adventure today and hire a self-drive vehicle!