Table of Contents

Driving in Europe Checklist

Dolomites road trip

Planning a Europe road trip? Wondering what you need to be able to drive in Europe? What kit to carry and paperwork to take? Here’s everything you need to know about driving in Europe, whether you’re travelling by car, motorhome, campervan, caravan, bike or anything else!

Don’t forget to grab your FREE Driving in Europe checklist to help keep you organised.

*We work hard to make this the best motorhome blog and road trip website possible, full of helpful content for you. The website is supported by our readers, so if you buy through links on this site we may earn a commission- at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain our own.

If you find this post useful, you can also treat us to a coffee at the bottom of this page- we promise to enjoy it while creating more useful content like this- we might even indulge in a biscuit (or two!)

What do you need to drive in Europe?

When you’re planning a European road trip, it can all feel a bit overwhelming. There are questions over what documents you need to take, do you need a green card, what gear do you need in your vehicle and are breathalysers STILL a thing?

NOTE: This post has been completed updated in 2021 and takes into account all changes for driving in Europe after BREXIT and new French laws. There have been some changes to both gear you need to carry in your vehicle, and to paperwork you need to carry. Details on both are below and all checklists have been updated to comply.

Driving in Europe Checklist

When we planned our first driving holiday to Europe, there wasn’t an easy resource or checklist for a car, motorhome or campervan *cough, you know, like the one you can get below* and it all felt a bit overwhelming.

So, to make your life easier, here is a list of what you need to drive in Europe. Actually, there are some things you NEED to take with you (legally) and there are some you SHOULD take (because they make life more fun!)

Europe Motorhome travel- free checklists

Want to head to Europe with your motorhome?

Grab your FREE (printable) checklist and discover 25 things you NEED to take with you when you travel in Europe. Make your life easier today.

Essential Road Trip Accessories for driving in Europe

I’m sorry to say that most of the accessories you NEED in your Europe travel kit aren’t very sexy or fun. But they are aimed at increasing your visibility and safety and the police DO check if they stop you- and they do fine if you aren’t carrying everything you should be.

Things you need to drive in Europe- safety gear

Unlike in the UK, there are some things you legally MUST carry in your vehicle when driving in Europe. These are:

  • Hi-vis reflective jackets – one per person (These MUST be accessible without getting out of the vehicle- ie, don’t keep them in the garage unless you can reach them from inside!)
  • Headlight beam convertors – must be fitted before you drive in Europe. attached to the back of car or reg plates. – compulsory in many countries, including France and Germany. Find out what we carry in our European first aid kit here

TOP TIP: Buy these essentials for driving in Europe in advance. One of the cheapest places is on Amazon. If you use somewhere like Halfords or wait until you’re at the ferry, you could spend two or even THREE times as much!

Do I need a breathalyser to drive in France or Europe?

Repeat after me- you do NOT need a breathalyser to drive in Europe.

It was a law France passed a few years ago… and then quietly removed for whatever reason. Many posts ranking highly in Google still list a breathalyser in their essential Europe driving accessories list, but I promise you you don’t need one.

How to plan a road trip- mistakes to avoid

Other recommended Europe driving kit to carry for safety

  • Spare bulbs for all lights in the vehicle
  • Torch
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Blanket- useful if your passengers get cold! (Did you know you can buy a 12v heated blanket? It’s amazing!)
  • Water and snacks- just in case you run into traffic or breakdown somewhere remote.

Road trip accessories you MIGHT need when driving in Europe

The following kit are things you might need to carry in your car, motorhome, caravan or campervan, depending on when and where you are planning your road trip in Europe.

  • Snow chains/ winter tyres– check the rules on the country you are visiting and pay close attention to the DATES when the snow chain/ snow tyres rules come into force. If you’re not sure, read THIS . France passed a law in November 2021 about winter tyres and snow chains- read it in full here.
  • Clean Air tax in some French cities, called Crit’Air. Here’s what you need to know about those.
  • Blind Spot Stickers. If your motorhome is over 3.5 tonnes and you’re planning to visit built up areas in France, you’ll need to fit these Blind spot warning stickers.
  • Motorway tax/ Vignette. These are enforced in several countries across Europe, including Switzerland and Austria. You must have them fitted on your vehicle before/ as you cross the border. You can buy them in garages very easily. Remember, if you are motorhoming in Switzerland in a vehicle over 3.5t, you might need more than a normal vignette.
  • Beware of Portugal, where you need to carry a temporary toll device in order to use some of the motorways- read our guide to motorhoming in Portugal – for bike racks or anything overhanging the end of the motorhome or campervan. These are not currently compulsory in France, but they ARE compulsory if motorhoming in Italy or Spain. Get the more expensive aluminium one, like this one– the cheaper versions are not legal in Italy.

What documents do you need to drive in Europe?

If you’re driving in Europe, you need to carry the following documents:

  • Passport (or identity card)
  • Driving licence (check it is in date!)
  • Vehicle Insurance documents- check you are covered for driving in Europe
  • Breakdown cover
  • Vehicle V5 logbook (which must show your correct address)
  • Vehicle must be legally taxed and MOT’d
  • Trailer certification (if required)
  • Green card (if required- usually only for trailers. Check & get from your vehicle insurer)
  • International Driving Permit if required
  • Personal travel insurance

Do I need an international driving permit to drive in Europe?

Most UK citizens do not need an IDP to drive in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein if you have a card driving licence issued in the UK.

You might need one if you have:

  • a paper driving licence only
  • a licence issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man

(If you do need an IDP, here’s an in-depth guide on how to get an International Driving Permit and which one(s) you need from a UK post office.

Read Post  COVID-19 tests for travel to Europe

Planning to take your motorhome to Europe?

Europe Motorhome travel checklist- FREE

GUIDE: Stop the overwhelm with our step-by-step guide. Contains eBook, checklists and more. Complete Europe Motorhome Travel Toolkit

CHECKLIST: Don’t forget to grab your FREE Europe motorhome travel checklist HERE

GEAR– If you need any motorhome gear for touring Europe, here’s what we recommend.

Driving in Europe- Other useful things you might need

We’ve been touring Europe in our motorhome for several years. We’ve tried all sorts of kit- some useful, some not so much.

Here is a list of things we highly recommend when driving in Europe, but which are NOT essential:

    – learn our favourite way to get internet on the road
  • Toll pass (see below)
  • TV- If you’d like TV in your motorhome or camper, here’s how to get it.
  • An awesome road trip playlist!

Motorhome/ Camper travel accessories for Europe

If you’re travelling Europe in a motorhome or camper, here are some extra things you might find helpful:

    – great value if you’re travelling outside of peak season. – get one you can enter your motorhome dimensions into, like these – here’s how we fitted ours. One of the best things upgrades we’ve done to our motorhome. – this thing is GOLD for allowing us to go exploring and leave the van for a short time.
  • Solar panel- perfect if you want to wild camp in Europe
  • Inverter- a wild camping essential

Tolls in Europe

Most countries in Europe which don’t have vignettes have tolls. Normally, the tolls are automatic and take card payments, but if you can carry change you’ll find the queues for those lanes are generally shorter.

We LOVE our automatic toll pass (It used to be called Sanef, but now it’s Emovis which allows us to breeze through the tolls when touring in France, Spain & Portugal.)

It’s a little box which sticks to the windscreen and each time we go through a toll it adds itself to our bill, which is emailed to us at the end of the month. Payment is taken automatically if that’s what you prefer. They have similar systems for Scandanavia as well- we used BroBizz when we were over 3.5 tonnes on our motorhome holiday to Norway

It’s not an essential motorhome accessory, and you can happily tour Europe without it, but it really does help.

Driving in Europe- things to do before you leave

Don’t forget to do these essential vehicle checks before you leave in order to make sure you don’t have any unpleasant surprises on your journey!

Basic vehicle maintenance:

  • Check tyre pressure
  • If the vehicle hasn’t been started for a while, start the engine and give it a run, just to be sure!
  • BRAKES. Check your brakes and brake fluid. Please. Halfords do a free brake check and after our horrible experience of driving down a mountain in Switzerland without any brakes, we check ours regularly!
  • Tyre tread. If your tread is very low and you’re about to set off driving around Europe, consider doing the same. If you’re going for a couple of weeks and your tread is ok, you should be fine until you get back. If you’re not sure, ask your local garage.
  • Windscreen. Check for chips, cracks or other imperfections. You may be covered by insurance in Europe, but if it cracks completely, it’s going to eat into your holiday time. Better to get it sorted now and not have to worry about it.
  • Lights. Make sure all your lights, indicators etc are working. It’s scary how many motorhomes and caravans we’ve seen with indicators or brake lights which aren’t working correctly. Don’t give the European police an easy reason to fine you. (And those fines are on the spot!)
  • Washer fluid
  • Oil
  • Water levels in radiator if you have an older motorhome/ campervan.
  • Adblue
  • Battery- if you are in any doubt about the starter battery or motorhome domestic battery (or any other battery you may have), get it checked and replace if necessary
  • Check fluid in washer fluid reservoir
  • Check windscreen wipers
  • Check anything fixed to the outside of the motorhome is secure
  • Check door locks- much easier to get it fixed now than later! We fitted an additional motorhome door lock for security.
  • Check to ensure bolts haven’t worked loose on bike rack
  • Check towbar and all electrics
  • Check straps for fraying
  • Check tread on trailer tyres
  • Check brakes if it’s a braked trailer
  • Check fixings on roof boxes/ external luggage carriers to ensure they are still properly fitted.
  • If you’re planning a motorhome, campervan, RV or caravan trip, check as many vehicle systems as possible- heating, air con, fridge, solar panel, water, toilet, batteries… if you find a problem now you still have time to fix it before you travel if you need to.

What to do if you are renting a vehicle for your European road trip?

If you are hiring a motorhome or camper in Europe, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure the vehicle has the required safety equipment. The on-the-spot fines apply to you as the driver, not the company. Check in advance with the company what kit they will provide with the vehicle and what you will need to bring.

Take a list of what is legally required with you and check it off one by one as you are given the handover. Do not drive until you are happy you comply with the local laws.

Make sure you have proof that you can take the vehicle across a border into another country if that’s what you’re planning to do.

I hope you now feel better prepared for driving in Europe.

Other Europe Travel tips you might find helpful:

For more information, visit our Europe travel section for advice, destination ideas and more.

Planning a Europe road trip? Wondering what you need to be able to drive in Europe? What kit to carry and paperwork to take? Here

Kat never planned to buy a motorhome. She also never planned to quit her job as an air traffic controller, go touring around Europe in said motorhome, start one of the UK’s largest motorhome travel websites… or get a cocker spaniel.

If you’d like to connect with Kat, send her an email or follow her adventures on social media.

Driving in Europe Checklist

Dolomites road trip

Planning a Europe road trip? Wondering what you need to be able to drive in Europe? What kit to carry and paperwork to take? Here’s everything you need to know about driving in Europe, whether you’re travelling by car, motorhome, campervan, caravan, bike or anything else!

Don’t forget to grab your FREE Driving in Europe checklist to help keep you organised.

*We work hard to make this the best motorhome blog and road trip website possible, full of helpful content for you. The website is supported by our readers, so if you buy through links on this site we may earn a commission- at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain our own.

If you find this post useful, you can also treat us to a coffee at the bottom of this page- we promise to enjoy it while creating more useful content like this- we might even indulge in a biscuit (or two!)

What do you need to drive in Europe?

When you’re planning a European road trip, it can all feel a bit overwhelming. There are questions over what documents you need to take, do you need a green card, what gear do you need in your vehicle and are breathalysers STILL a thing?

NOTE: This post has been completed updated in 2021 and takes into account all changes for driving in Europe after BREXIT and new French laws. There have been some changes to both gear you need to carry in your vehicle, and to paperwork you need to carry. Details on both are below and all checklists have been updated to comply.

Driving in Europe Checklist

When we planned our first driving holiday to Europe, there wasn’t an easy resource or checklist for a car, motorhome or campervan *cough, you know, like the one you can get below* and it all felt a bit overwhelming.

So, to make your life easier, here is a list of what you need to drive in Europe. Actually, there are some things you NEED to take with you (legally) and there are some you SHOULD take (because they make life more fun!)

Europe Motorhome travel- free checklists

Want to head to Europe with your motorhome?

Grab your FREE (printable) checklist and discover 25 things you NEED to take with you when you travel in Europe. Make your life easier today.

Essential Road Trip Accessories for driving in Europe

I’m sorry to say that most of the accessories you NEED in your Europe travel kit aren’t very sexy or fun. But they are aimed at increasing your visibility and safety and the police DO check if they stop you- and they do fine if you aren’t carrying everything you should be.

Things you need to drive in Europe- safety gear

Unlike in the UK, there are some things you legally MUST carry in your vehicle when driving in Europe. These are:

  • Hi-vis reflective jackets – one per person (These MUST be accessible without getting out of the vehicle- ie, don’t keep them in the garage unless you can reach them from inside!)
  • Headlight beam convertors – must be fitted before you drive in Europe. attached to the back of car or reg plates. – compulsory in many countries, including France and Germany. Find out what we carry in our European first aid kit here
Read Post  11 Fun & Easy Ways To Meet People While Travelling Solo

TOP TIP: Buy these essentials for driving in Europe in advance. One of the cheapest places is on Amazon. If you use somewhere like Halfords or wait until you’re at the ferry, you could spend two or even THREE times as much!

Do I need a breathalyser to drive in France or Europe?

Repeat after me- you do NOT need a breathalyser to drive in Europe.

It was a law France passed a few years ago… and then quietly removed for whatever reason. Many posts ranking highly in Google still list a breathalyser in their essential Europe driving accessories list, but I promise you you don’t need one.

How to plan a road trip- mistakes to avoid

Other recommended Europe driving kit to carry for safety

  • Spare bulbs for all lights in the vehicle
  • Torch
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Blanket- useful if your passengers get cold! (Did you know you can buy a 12v heated blanket? It’s amazing!)
  • Water and snacks- just in case you run into traffic or breakdown somewhere remote.

Road trip accessories you MIGHT need when driving in Europe

The following kit are things you might need to carry in your car, motorhome, caravan or campervan, depending on when and where you are planning your road trip in Europe.

  • Snow chains/ winter tyres– check the rules on the country you are visiting and pay close attention to the DATES when the snow chain/ snow tyres rules come into force. If you’re not sure, read THIS . France passed a law in November 2021 about winter tyres and snow chains- read it in full here.
  • Clean Air tax in some French cities, called Crit’Air. Here’s what you need to know about those.
  • Blind Spot Stickers. If your motorhome is over 3.5 tonnes and you’re planning to visit built up areas in France, you’ll need to fit these Blind spot warning stickers.
  • Motorway tax/ Vignette. These are enforced in several countries across Europe, including Switzerland and Austria. You must have them fitted on your vehicle before/ as you cross the border. You can buy them in garages very easily. Remember, if you are motorhoming in Switzerland in a vehicle over 3.5t, you might need more than a normal vignette.
  • Beware of Portugal, where you need to carry a temporary toll device in order to use some of the motorways- read our guide to motorhoming in Portugal – for bike racks or anything overhanging the end of the motorhome or campervan. These are not currently compulsory in France, but they ARE compulsory if motorhoming in Italy or Spain. Get the more expensive aluminium one, like this one– the cheaper versions are not legal in Italy.

What documents do you need to drive in Europe?

If you’re driving in Europe, you need to carry the following documents:

  • Passport (or identity card)
  • Driving licence (check it is in date!)
  • Vehicle Insurance documents- check you are covered for driving in Europe
  • Breakdown cover
  • Vehicle V5 logbook (which must show your correct address)
  • Vehicle must be legally taxed and MOT’d
  • Trailer certification (if required)
  • Green card (if required- usually only for trailers. Check & get from your vehicle insurer)
  • International Driving Permit if required
  • Personal travel insurance

Do I need an international driving permit to drive in Europe?

Most UK citizens do not need an IDP to drive in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein if you have a card driving licence issued in the UK.

You might need one if you have:

  • a paper driving licence only
  • a licence issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man

(If you do need an IDP, here’s an in-depth guide on how to get an International Driving Permit and which one(s) you need from a UK post office.

Planning to take your motorhome to Europe?

Europe Motorhome travel checklist- FREE

GUIDE: Stop the overwhelm with our step-by-step guide. Contains eBook, checklists and more. Complete Europe Motorhome Travel Toolkit

CHECKLIST: Don’t forget to grab your FREE Europe motorhome travel checklist HERE

GEAR– If you need any motorhome gear for touring Europe, here’s what we recommend.

Driving in Europe- Other useful things you might need

We’ve been touring Europe in our motorhome for several years. We’ve tried all sorts of kit- some useful, some not so much.

Here is a list of things we highly recommend when driving in Europe, but which are NOT essential:

    – learn our favourite way to get internet on the road
  • Toll pass (see below)
  • TV- If you’d like TV in your motorhome or camper, here’s how to get it.
  • An awesome road trip playlist!

Motorhome/ Camper travel accessories for Europe

If you’re travelling Europe in a motorhome or camper, here are some extra things you might find helpful:

    – great value if you’re travelling outside of peak season. – get one you can enter your motorhome dimensions into, like these – here’s how we fitted ours. One of the best things upgrades we’ve done to our motorhome. – this thing is GOLD for allowing us to go exploring and leave the van for a short time.
  • Solar panel- perfect if you want to wild camp in Europe
  • Inverter- a wild camping essential

Tolls in Europe

Most countries in Europe which don’t have vignettes have tolls. Normally, the tolls are automatic and take card payments, but if you can carry change you’ll find the queues for those lanes are generally shorter.

We LOVE our automatic toll pass (It used to be called Sanef, but now it’s Emovis which allows us to breeze through the tolls when touring in France, Spain & Portugal.)

It’s a little box which sticks to the windscreen and each time we go through a toll it adds itself to our bill, which is emailed to us at the end of the month. Payment is taken automatically if that’s what you prefer. They have similar systems for Scandanavia as well- we used BroBizz when we were over 3.5 tonnes on our motorhome holiday to Norway

It’s not an essential motorhome accessory, and you can happily tour Europe without it, but it really does help.

Driving in Europe- things to do before you leave

Don’t forget to do these essential vehicle checks before you leave in order to make sure you don’t have any unpleasant surprises on your journey!

Basic vehicle maintenance:

  • Check tyre pressure
  • If the vehicle hasn’t been started for a while, start the engine and give it a run, just to be sure!
  • BRAKES. Check your brakes and brake fluid. Please. Halfords do a free brake check and after our horrible experience of driving down a mountain in Switzerland without any brakes, we check ours regularly!
  • Tyre tread. If your tread is very low and you’re about to set off driving around Europe, consider doing the same. If you’re going for a couple of weeks and your tread is ok, you should be fine until you get back. If you’re not sure, ask your local garage.
  • Windscreen. Check for chips, cracks or other imperfections. You may be covered by insurance in Europe, but if it cracks completely, it’s going to eat into your holiday time. Better to get it sorted now and not have to worry about it.
  • Lights. Make sure all your lights, indicators etc are working. It’s scary how many motorhomes and caravans we’ve seen with indicators or brake lights which aren’t working correctly. Don’t give the European police an easy reason to fine you. (And those fines are on the spot!)
  • Washer fluid
  • Oil
  • Water levels in radiator if you have an older motorhome/ campervan.
  • Adblue
  • Battery- if you are in any doubt about the starter battery or motorhome domestic battery (or any other battery you may have), get it checked and replace if necessary
  • Check fluid in washer fluid reservoir
  • Check windscreen wipers
  • Check anything fixed to the outside of the motorhome is secure
  • Check door locks- much easier to get it fixed now than later! We fitted an additional motorhome door lock for security.
  • Check to ensure bolts haven’t worked loose on bike rack
  • Check towbar and all electrics
  • Check straps for fraying
  • Check tread on trailer tyres
  • Check brakes if it’s a braked trailer
  • Check fixings on roof boxes/ external luggage carriers to ensure they are still properly fitted.
  • If you’re planning a motorhome, campervan, RV or caravan trip, check as many vehicle systems as possible- heating, air con, fridge, solar panel, water, toilet, batteries… if you find a problem now you still have time to fix it before you travel if you need to.

What to do if you are renting a vehicle for your European road trip?

If you are hiring a motorhome or camper in Europe, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure the vehicle has the required safety equipment. The on-the-spot fines apply to you as the driver, not the company. Check in advance with the company what kit they will provide with the vehicle and what you will need to bring.

Take a list of what is legally required with you and check it off one by one as you are given the handover. Do not drive until you are happy you comply with the local laws.

Make sure you have proof that you can take the vehicle across a border into another country if that’s what you’re planning to do.

Read Post  Traveling by Train in Europe: Where, Why, and How

I hope you now feel better prepared for driving in Europe.

Other Europe Travel tips you might find helpful:

For more information, visit our Europe travel section for advice, destination ideas and more.

Planning a Europe road trip? Wondering what you need to be able to drive in Europe? What kit to carry and paperwork to take? Here

Kat never planned to buy a motorhome. She also never planned to quit her job as an air traffic controller, go touring around Europe in said motorhome, start one of the UK’s largest motorhome travel websites… or get a cocker spaniel.

If you’d like to connect with Kat, send her an email or follow her adventures on social media.

Europe Border Crossing By Car: The Ultimate Preparation Guide

europe border crossing by car pinterest pin

In this guide, I am going to explain everything you need to know about a Europe border crossing by car.

In fact, this is everything I learned whilst driving over 20,000 km around Europe in a KIA Sportage SUV.

Europe is an exciting place to enjoy a road trip. There is huge diversity in the landscapes and cultures your will encounter. Driving is an excellent way to experience it.

Read on to learn about all the documentation, preparation, and costs associated with driving across borders in Europe.

European border crossing infographic

Preparation For Driving Across Borders In Europe

Europe border crossing by car

The key to successful border crossings in Europe by car is research and preparation.

You will face a hard border crossing when entering/leaving Schengen or crossing the border between non-Schengen countries.

Read on to find out exactly what you need to when driving across borders in Europe. Something that is for sure is that you want to make sure you know what the best route is. I would suggest checking out our article explaining our view on the best route planner app out there..

Documents you need for a Europe border crossing by car

Firstly, let’s confirm all the documentation you should carry with you when driving across borders in Europe.

  • Passport
  • Driving license
  • Vehicle ownership documents
  • Proof of insurance
  • Green card (Request from insurance provider)

You may also be required to buy a vignette at the border.

This covers the cost of using toll roads and is a substitute for pay as you go toll roads.

documents europe border crossing

Passport inspections are mandatory when leaving or entering the EU

Equipment required for a European road trip with border crossings

Certain countries in Europe have rules about items you need to have inside your car in case of an emergency.

These may be checked during a Europe border crossing.

Items include

  • High visibility jackets
  • Hazard triangle
  • Breathalyzer (Required in France)
  • First aid kit
  • Headlamp deflectors

You can purchase a European Road Kit on Amazon which covers everything you need.

Whilst we were on our massive road trip around Europe we also carried a road map just in case we had a problem with our satellite navigation.

Insurance required for a European road trip

First, check with your insurance provider to establish which European countries you are insured in.

When you complete a Europe border crossing by car your insurance will be checked.

I’ve written an entire article on how to find the cheapest car insurance including European cover.

There is a section in this article about what to do if your insurance policy does not cover you for a country you plan to enter.

Green card

This is a document that proves which foreign countries your insurance policy applies in.

You need to request a green card from your insurance provider to carry with you at all times.

Buying insurance at the border

If you are entering a country that you do not have insurance for then you will be required to buy insurance at the border.

This is nothing to worry about…

After you pass through passport control you will be asked to exit your vehicle and go to an office to purchase insurance.

Once you have insurance you will present it with the rest of your documents then proceed through customs across the border.

The cost of temporary insurance ranged from around $15 in Moldova to $70 in Turkey

Cash is king

cash

As discussed above we always had to pay in cash for the temporary insurance.

Make sure you have cash with you for all border crossings!

Types of Border Crossing in Europe

Schengen Area

The first thing to understand is that in the Schengen Area you can cross borders with no restriction or hard border.

This area includes 26 European countries that allow the free unrestricted movement of people.

All of the EU countries except the UK and Ireland are in Schengen. Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are also in Schengen but not the EU.

Schengen Area Schengen Area Key

Borders within the EU by car

As stated above, many EU countries are in Schengen, meaning you will not cross a hard border and be engaged in border checks.

You can drive over the border with no problem at all!

However, the UK and Ireland are not and so you will cross a border entering there.

Entering or Leaving the EU by Car

Moving from EU to non-EU countries and vice versa, or entering/leaving the Schengen zone will require crossing a hard border.

eu flag europe border

Toll Roads and Vignettes in Europe

Vignettes

A vignette is essentially a type of road tax which you pay in advance to use the toll roads of the country you are entering.

Countries that require a vignette

  • Austria
  • Bulgaria
  • Czech Republic
  • Hungary
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Switzerland
  • Portugal

You can purchase them at the following locations

  • An office at the border
  • gas stations
  • car rental offices
  • online (sometimes)

Toll Roads

Some countries have toll roads which are pay as you go.

Usually, you can use credit or debit card but I would always carry cash as a backup.

Always check what the situation is with toll roads or vignettes when you enter a country as the fines can be steep.

Things to Remember for a Europe Border Crossing

Generally speaking, you want to make life as easy as possible for the people at the border.

It’s a good idea to have a nice tidy car and ensure you have the following documents ready

Documents

  • passports
  • ownership documents
  • Proof of insurance and green card
  • Driving license

Make sure you drive slowly and follow commands at all times.

It’s really important to smile, especially if there is a language barrier and you have no idea what each other are saying!

Vehicle searches

During almost all border crossings we were required to open the boot of our car to allow a customs officer to view the contents.

In some circumstances, they would also ask a few questions regarding the contents of our luggage and complete a quick search of our bags and vehicle.

Corruption

police europe border crossing

Unfortunately, I did encounter some corruption at certain border crossings in Europe.

It is nothing to be overly concerned about but there were some instances of officials charging us to enter or overcharging us for things like Visas and Insurance.

Sometimes we would pay in cash for something and then receive a receipt for a far lower amount.

Generally speaking, my advice is to carry small cash away from your main cash.
If you need to hand over a bit of spare cash the last thing you want to do is take out your wallet with hundreds of euros in it!

Extra Tips and Advice for a Europe Border Crossing by Car

Here are some final things to consider regarding European border crossings by car.

Fuel costs

cheap fuel europe border crossing by car

There can be drastic changes in fuel prices across borders.

Always plan around this and if you are leaving a cheap country make sure you fill up the tank with fuel before crossing the border.

New road signs

Take your time when entering a new country to familiarise yourself with the new road signs.

Speed limit changes

speed camera europe border crossing

When you cross over the border into a new country there is almost always a large sign which outlines the speed limits on each type of road.

An excellent app is Waze for driving around Europe because it has a built-in function that tells you if you are speeding.

This is very helpful if you are crossing borders and the limit is constantly changing.

Europe Border Crossing by Car Summary

The main items required for a border crossing are passports, vehicle registration documents, proof of insurance and green card.

Always take cash, it is often needed to purchase vignettes or insurance at the border in case your policy does not cover the country you are entering.

There are free border movements in Schengen but all other borders will have checks.

Smile, drive slowly and follow commands regarding vehicle searches and document presentation.

More from the Road Trip Expert

Crossing the border by car in Europe requires planning and preparation.

You should factor it in when you are planning a road trip around Europe.

Whilst planning its also great to consider road trip entertainment as well as saving money on parking.

Have you had a different experience during a European border crossing by car?

Let us know in the comments so I can add it to this article.

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Source https://www.wandering-bird.com/motorhome-accessories-europe/

Source https://www.wandering-bird.com/motorhome-accessories-europe/#:~:text=If%20you%E2%80%99re%20driving%20in%20Europe,%20you%20need%20to,card)%20Driving%20licence%20(check%20it%20is%20in%20date!)

Source https://www.theroadtripexpert.com/europe-border-crossing-by-car/

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