Breaking down overseas

Gary Andrews
Written by: Gary Andrews
Posted on: 1 September 2015

If you're planning a trip to Europe using your own car, it's important to be well prepared – and that includes having the right sort of breakdown cover.

Breakdown cover may not be a legal requirement, but it’s most definitely a sensible one.

It's the best way to give yourself peace of mind. Without cover, breaking down in a foreign country can be a very expensive and stressful business.

Before you travel though, there are some steps to take that will make life easier when driving in Europe.

  1. Get your car fully serviced to ensure it's roadworthy – ask your mechanic to check your windscreen wipers, brakes, lights and tyres (and don't forget your spare tyre!).
  2. Double check anything that could prove harder to fix when you're in a foreign country and don't know your way around. Also look at your water, oil and tyre tread and pressure levels.
  • Mechanic looking under bonnet of vehicle
  • Citroen 2CV on country road
  1. Buy up-to-date maps of the areas where you'll be travelling, along with blankets, a torch and a First Aid kit. Bear in mind that a warning triangle is a legal requirement in many European countries.
  2. A spare set of bulbs for your lights and headlamp deflector strips is a legal requirement in many countries too, including France, the Netherlands and Spain, and they’re recommended throughout the rest of Europe.
"It's a good idea for anyone who has a driving licence to take it with them... you never know when someone might need to drive in an emergency"
  1. Finally, you need to have GB identification on your car. If your car has a number plate with a GB Euro sticker on it (in most cases, that will be post-March 2001), that is all you need; if not, you should put a GB sticker on the back.

As for documents, you no longer need a green card to drive in EU countries but you do at least need third party insurance.

You'll obviously have your passports and anyone who is intending to drive should have their driving licence but it's a good idea for all travellers to bring a driving licence if they have one, even if they're not intending to drive. You never know when someone might need to in an emergency.

Ideally you should also have your vehicle registration document (if you can't find the original, you can apply for a replacement using Form V62, which you can get from a Post Office or direct from the DVLA), and your car insurance details.

If you're travelling abroad you should also have travel insurance.

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