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.

 

You'll need to have these ready at Passport Control:

  Passport
Passports must be less than ten years old at the point you are travelling to the European Union.
This is important if you've just had your passport renewed by the UK Passport Office, as up to 9 months validity may be transferred to your new passport if renewed early. If this has happened, you'll need to seek assistance from UKPO by calling 0330 222 0000.

There must be at least 3 months' validity (6 months' minimum is preferred) on your passport.
This covers you in case your stay is extended due to unforseen circumstances.
 
       
  Visa
Check if you need a visa in order to enter France (or any other Schengen Zone country).

If you are a UK, USA, Canada, Australian or New Zealand passport holder, you won't need a visa if your stay is less than 90 days (in a 180 day period, and includes any previous trips), and you are visiting on holiday or on a business trip.

From 2025, visa-exempt travellers will need to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver (costing €6).

A visa is needed if you are working or studying in France, or if you will be in the Shengen Zone for more than 90 days.
 
       
  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 - however this is not a substitute for proper travel insurance.
 
       
  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, tickets for return travel or proof that you can afford your trip. If you're visiting on business, you may need to show proof of any client appointments or meetings.
 
       

 

You'll need to have 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 photocard license.
Gibraltar, Channel Islands or Isle of Man residents will need an IDP, as will those with paper licenses. 
 
       
  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 these with your car:

  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 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 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.
If you're heading on to Spain, you'll need two - one to be positioned either side of your vehicle. 
 
       
  Crit'Air emissions sticker
You'll need one of these if driving into Paris, Lille or any other major city - find out more.
>>> 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 >>>
 
       

 

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.
Wearing gloves whilst riding is also a legal requirement. 
 
       

 

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

 

Other things to consider:

  Dogs, cats and ferrets
All domestic animals must be microchipped in order to be allowed into the EU.

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 will additionally need to see a vet in the 10 days prior to travel, so an Animal Health Certificate can be issued. 
 
       
  Is your vehicle roadworthy?
If your vehicle's service or MOT isn't due just before your trip, it's worth taking it for a routine safety check. Some of the major garage chains will even 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. 
 
  Food import restrictions
There are strict restrictions on what food products can be brought into the EU by travellers. Check the European Commission website for more information, but the simple guideline is don't bring any containing meat or dairy, or any fruit and vegetables with you (there are some medical and baby exemptions). 
 
       
  Duty free benefits
Something tourists like to do is bring back some local goodies, or take advantage of tax 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 website for more information