What do I need?  The traveller's checklist

If you're heading abroad for your holidays, or just popping over for a shopping or business trip, driving in another country can be a great experience. But you need to make sure that you are fully prepared and familiar with local rules and regulations.

We've designed this page with a particular focus on British visitors. You'll need to ensure you have all of the documentation listed below, as not having them can result in fines or not being allowed to cross the border. If you're travelling beyond France, then make sure you're familiar with the laws of each country that you will be driving in.

There are also a few other things that we recommend you have with you, even if they are not legally necessary.

This is a long list, but we've tried to make sure we've covered everything. This is especially so since the UK withdrew from the EU, meaning new regulations were introduced at the start of both 2021 and 2022.


Let's start with your personal documents...

You can't go anywhere without one of these!
It must be less than 10 years old, and valid for at least six months beyond your planned return date
UK citizens won't need a visa for holidays or business trips totalling less than 90 days (in a 6 month period).
A visa is needed if working or studying in France, or if your trip is longer than 90 days.
You can check if you need a visa here.
  Travel insurance
You'll need to ensure that you have adequate travel insurance - medical bills can be very expensive.
If you live in the EU, apply for a European Health Insurance Card which will allow you to receive emergency treatment for free or at a reduced cost. UK residents can apply for a similar Global Health Insurance Card.


You'll need these if you're driving...

  Driving licence
Only holders of a full drving licence (not provisional) are permitted to drive.
  International Driving Permit
You don't need one if you have an EU or UK issued photo license.
Gibraltar, Channel Islands or Isle of Man residents will need an IDP, as will those with an older paper license.
  Proof of ownership   "carte grise"
This will be your proof of ownership or registered keeper document.
For UK residents, this is the V5C "log book" document.
  Proof of vehicle insurance   "carte verte"
EU and UK residents will simply need to show a valid insurance certificate.
For all other motorists, this will be an Insurance Green Card, which can be obtained from your insurer.
  Proof of roadworthiness (MOT certificate)  


You'll also need...

  Vehicle nationality sticker (aka UK sticker)
Must be plain black-on-white style, and affixed to the rear of the vehicle.
You don't need one if your vehicle's registration plates have the blue UK identifier strip featuring a Union flag. GB stickers are no longer valid.
  Headlight deflectors
These are required if the direction of the beam is not adjustable, so that oncoming motorists are not dazzled.
  High visability vests
One vest is required for each person in the vehicle, and must be kept in the passenger compartment.
They must be worn if you need to evacuate the vehicle in an emergency.
  Warning triangle
Must be used following a breakdown or collision.
  Crit'Air emissions sticker
You'll need one of these if driving into Paris, Lille or any other major city - find out more.
  Snow chains or tyres
You'll only need these if heavy snow is forecast, or if you're visiting certain regions during the winter season -
find out more.
  Additional rules for motorcyclists:
Reflective strips must be affixed to the helmet - one each on the front, rear and each side.
Wearing gloves whilst riding is a legal requirement.


If you're riding a motorbike, you'll also need...

  Helmet relflective strips
Reflective strips must be affixed to your helmet - one each on the front, back and either side.


The following are not mandatory, but we strongly recommend them: 
Some of these are mandatory for domestic vehicles, which is why we suggest you keep them in your car.

Spare bulbs First aid kit Fire extinguisher Euro breakdown cover NF breathalyser


Other things to consider...

  Immigration clearance
You may need to prove that you are not attempting to live or work in France illegally.
This may involve showing a border official proof of accommodation, return travel or that you can afford your trip.
  Dogs, cats and ferrets
Pets visiting from outside the EU will need to see a vet at least four months before travel, in order to be vaccinated against rabies. They must also be microchipped.
They will need to see a vet in the 10 days prior to travel, so that an Animal Health Certificate can be issued.
  Is your vehicle roadworthy?
If your vehicle's service or MOT isn't due immediately before your trip, it's worth taking it for a safety check.
Some of the major garage chains will do this free of charge!
  Mobile phone roaming
Most networks charge roaming fees when travelling into the EU. It is worth checking with your provider for any deals or periods of free roaming, otherwise you could be liable for a hefty bill.
  Duty free benefits
Somethings tourists like to do is bring back some local goodies, or take advantage of duty free shopping.
UK citizens can bring back up to 42 litres of beer, 18 litres of wine and 200 cigarettes.
You can fill your car boot or van with other goods (such as food or clothes) up to the value of £390.
Check the gov.uk for more information.