The rules differ country by country and failing to comply could see you facing an on the spot fine. Consequently, it pays to do your homework before setting off on your travels. Here's a look at the regulations for some of the most popular countries in the EU.
UK Stickers (Previously GB Stickers)
Like in all European countries, you are required to have a UK sticker (previously GB sticker) on your vehicle unless your UK registration plates have the UK identifier with the Union flag (also known as the Union Jack).
Since 28 September 2021, British cars with a Europlate are also required to display a UK sticker when driving in Europe..
In addition to UK identification you will need headlamp beam converters. In the EU the legal requirement is not to dazzle oncoming drivers and even a dipped beam will do this if it hasn't been adjusted. Kits to adjust your beams are readily available but be sure they are suitable for your specific headlights.
Warning triangles are also required in France for all vehicles with more than two wheels. Additionally, in your vehicle you will need to carry a high visibility jacket and an NF approved breathalyser.
Since July 1st 2012 it has been compulsory for drivers of all motor vehicles to carry a breathalyser in France. The device must be certified by the French authorities and if asked, an unused breathalyser must be produced. Consequently, it pays to carry two single-use breathalysers in the vehicle at all times.
If you are travelling in France without any of the above paraphernalia, you are breaking the law and could potentially be fined.
For more details on driving in France take a look at our driving in France blog
When travelling in Spain, your car must have a UK sticker. This is required no matter what you have on your number plate.
Headlamp beam converters are also required, in addition to a warning triangle.
Spanish law demands that non-Spanish registered vehicles only carry one warning triangle, while Spanish-registered vehicles must carry two. However, it is recommended that when travelling in the country you still carry two as officials may still fine you for just having one, regardless of the regulations.
High Vis Jackets
Finally, your vehicle must contain a high visibility jacket. In Spain this is compulsory for all motorways and busy roads when a driver and/or passenger exits a vehicle immobilised on a carriageway, at night, or in poor visibility. The jackets need to be carried within the passenger compartment of the vehicle.
If you're driving in Portugal you will need a UK sticker (which replaced the requirement to have a GB sticker, from 28 September 2021) or UK registration plates with the UK identifier and symbol, headlamp converters, and a warning triangle.
Warning Triangle Rules in Portugal
In the event of an accident or breakdown, the use of hazard lights or a warning triangle is compulsory. It is recommended to always carry the warning triangle, however, as hazard lights don't work on bends or rises in the road. What's more, there is a risk they could become damaged.
High Vis Jackets
When heading to Portugal a high visibility jacket is also advised. While the law only stipulates Portuguese residents carry such a jacket, you may face an on the spot fine by officials for failing to possess one.
It's important to know that some traffic officials in the country carry ATM's so you may be asked to pay up straight away.
UK stickers or UK registration plates with the UK identifier and symbol and headlamp beam converters are both needed for travelling in Germany.
Additionally, a warning triangle is compulsory in the case of an accident or breakdown, although it is not a legal requirement to carry one in a vehicle. It is consequently recommended that when driving in Germany you have a warning triangle in the car.
You are also advised to carry a first aid kit as it is compulsory for vehicles registered in the country.
Failure to possess any of the above could lead to an on the spot fine.
When driving in Italy a UK sticker or UK symbol and identifier registration plate is needed. Headlamp beam converters, a warning triangle and high visibility jacket are also needed.
On the spot fines will also be issued for failing to hold any of these things and in Italy police will collect a quarter of the maximum fine amount from drivers of foreign registered vehicles.
In Belgium vehicles are required to carry a UK sticker (which replaced the GB sticker in September 2021) or registration plates with a UK identifier and symbol, headlamp beam converters and a warning triangle.
Should you find yourself stranded on a Belgian motorway, on a major road, or in a place where parking is not allowed, the driver of the vehicle is required to wear a high visibility jacket.
A first aid kit is also recommended as it is compulsory for Belgium-registered vehicles.
On the spot fines may be issued for failure to carry any of the above.
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