Holidaymakers warned of European driving licence and number plate rules

Family running on a beach with a kite next to parked car

Going away on holiday between June and August?

If so, you join 81% of Brits in their summer holiday plans, according to Trip Advisor’s Seasonal Travel Index. 

With mainland Europe being a hotspot for British summer travel, drivers are advised to take a refresher course on driving laws across the continent. 

This is important for general road safety and will help you avoid being hit by unwanted fines. 

Keep reading for the European licence and number plate rules as outlined by GOV.UK. 

Licence requirements for driving in mainland Europe 

You will need your Great Britain or Northern Ireland driving licence when driving through Europe. Make sure it is still valid, and if it is expired or about to expire, renew your driving licence online. 

If taking your own vehicle, ensure you bring your log book (V5C) and insurance certificate along. 

If taking a leased or hired vehicle, you’ll need a VE103 certificate. 

You don’t need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein if you have a photocard driving licence issued in the UK.

However, you may need to produce an IDP in other European countries such as Norway if you have a paper driving licence or if your licence was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man.

All UK vehicle insurance provides the minimum third-party cover to drive in the EU (including Ireland).

Number plate requirements for driving in mainland Europe 

You must display the UK identifier when driving a UK-registered vehicle abroad. 

If your number plate includes the UK identifier with the Union Jack, it won’t need a UK sticker. 

However, in some circumstances, you may need to display a UK sticker clearly on the rear of your vehicle. 

For example, if your number plate has a GB identifier with the Union Jack, a Euro symbol, a national flag of England, Scotland or Wales, or if it only has numbers and letters (no flags or identifiers).  

If driving in Spain, Cyprus or Malta, you must display a UK sticker no matter what is on your number plate. 

Ready to drive into the summer heat? Learn how to cool your car down quickly for a pleasant trip ahead.