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.

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 and the transition period ended at the end of 2020, as this meant that additional regulations have been introduced.

 

Let's start with your personal documents...

       
  Passport
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
 
  Visa
UK citizens won't need a visa for holidays or business trips totalling less than 90 days (in any six 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 for your trip - medical bills can be very expensive.
Existing European Health Insurance Cards will remain valid until they expire.
 
       

 

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 old style paper license.
 
       
  Insurance Green Card
This confirms you have valid insurance - ask your insurer for one of these, but do this at least 6 weeks before travel.
 
       
  Proof of ownership (V5C "log book" document)
If you are stopped, the police will ask for the "carte grise".
 
       
  Proof of roadworthiness (MOT certificate)  
       

 

You'll also need...

       
  Vehicle nationality sticker (aka GB sticker)
Must be plain black-on-white style, and affixed to the rear of the vehicle.
 
       
  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 the Alpine ski resorts -
find out more.
 
       

 

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 details of accommodation, return travel or that you can afford your trip.
 
       
  Dogs, cats and ferrets
Pet passports are no longer valid - you will need to speak to your vet at least four months before travel.
Your pet will need to be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies.
They will also need to see the vet in the 10 days before 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 is worthwhile taking it for a safety check.
Some of the major garage chains will do this free of charge!
 
       
  Mobile phone roaming
Most networks won't charge roaming fees for short trips and holidays, but may do so if you are staying longer.
It is worth checking with your provider if this is still the case, as you could be liable for a hefty bill.
 
       
  Duty free benefits
One of the things 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) up to the value of £390. Check gov.uk for more info.