European driving laws

APH has compiled a table of European driving laws to keep you from getting a nasty rap to the wrist. If you are thinking about driving in Europe you need to be aware that rules and regulations for driving vary across countries, including legal driving ages, breakdown laws and seatbelt laws. Even the amount of alcohol allowed in your system can have important differences across Europe. The table below gives the rules and regulations of driving in a number of European countries.

COUNTRY

MINIMUM AGE

SPEED LIMIT

ALCOHOL LIMIT (UK LIMIT IS 0.8.)

EQUIPMENT INSIDE THE CAR

PAPERWORK AND INSURANCE

MARKINGS ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE VEHICLE

GENERAL

Austria
  • 18 – but some suppliers impose maximum age limits to rentals
Motorways:130kph/80mphOpen Roads:

100kph/62mph

Urban Areas:

50kph/31mph

0.5 mg/ml
  • A reflective jacket within reach inside the car. This must be worn if drivers stop for any reason outside built-up areas, even just setting up a warning triangle
  • A warning triangle within reach inside the car
  • A first aid kit
  • Snow chains/winter tyres must be used in mountainous areas during winter
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence (If they don’t have a photo license, another form of photographic ID, like passport), ownership documents (if necessary) and insurance details should be carried
  • A GB sticker must be placed on the back of the vehicle – unless the vehicle has ‘Euro-plates’ (number-plates that show a circle of 12 stars on a blue background)
  • A motorway sticker if driving on the motorway (available at the border and at main petrol stations)
  • Seat belts must be worn front and rear
  • No mobile phones while driving except when using a hands free device
Belgium
  • 18 to drive
  • 21 to rent a car
Motorways:120kph/75mphOpen Roads:

90kph/56mph

Urban Areas:

50kph/31mph

0.5 mg/ml
  • A warning triangle within reach inside the car
  • Headlamp converters (stickers placed on headlights when driving on the right, so lights don’t dazzle motorists coming the other way)
  • A fire extinguisher
  • A reflective jacket within reach inside the car.  This must be worn if drivers stop for any reason outside built-up areas
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence, ownership documents (if necessary) and insurance details
  • Drivers must have at least third party vehicle insurance. It is the car owner’s responsibility to obtain the insurance
  • A GB sticker must be placed on the back of the vehicle – unless the vehicle has ‘Euro-plates’
  • Seat belts must be worn front and rear
Bulgaria
  • 18 to drive
Motorways:120kph/75mphOpen Roads:

90kph/56mph

Urban Areas:

50kph/31mph

0.5 mg/ml
  • Headlamp converters (stickers placed on headlights when driving on the right, so lights don’t dazzle motorists coming the other way)
  • A fire extinguisher
  • A first aid kit
  • A warning triangle within reach inside the car
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence, ownership documents and V5 registration document or hire car paperwork as well as insurance details showing the driver has permission to drive in Bulgaria
  • A GB sticker must be placed on the back of the vehicle – even if the vehicle has ‘Euro-plates’.
  • Seat belts must be worn front and rear
  • Use of horns are banned between 10pm – 6am or 12pm – 4pm
Cyprus
  • 18 to drive
Motorways:120kph/75mphOpen Roads:

90kph/56mph

Urban Areas:

50kph/31mph

Zero – there must be no alcohol in drivers’ blood stream
  • Two warning triangles inside the car
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence and motor insurance certificate. (If driving in the south of Cyprus, drivers may not be insured to drive in the north – if drivers want to travel between the two, they must make sure they have all the appropriate paperwork. Visit the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for more information)
  • A GB sticker must be placed on the back of the vehicle – even if the vehicle has ‘Euro-plates’
  • Seat belts must be worn front and rear
  • Use of horns are banned between 10pm – 6am or near hospitals
  • Do not eat or drink while driving
Czech Republic
  • 18 to drive
Motorways:130kph/80mphOpen Roads:

90kph/56mph

Urban Areas:

50kph/31mph

Zero – there must be no alcohol in drivers’ blood stream
  • A warning triangle inside the car
  • Headlamp converters
  • Spare bulbs for the vehicle’s external lights
  • A fire extinguisher
  • A first aid kit
  • A reflective jacket within reach inside the car
  • Winter tyres or snow chains, if driving between November and April
  • Glasses or contact lens wearers must carry a spare pair in the car
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence and motor insurance certificate
  • A GB sticker on the back of the vehicle – unless the vehicle has ‘Euro-plates’
  • A motorway sticker if driving on the motorway (available at the border and at larger petrol stations)
  • Seat belts must be worn front and rear
  • Dipped headlights must be used at all times
Denmark
  • 18 to drive
Motorways:110kph/68mphSome stretches at:

130kph/80mph

Open Roads:

80kph/50mph

Urban Areas:

50kph/31mph

0.5 mg/ml
  • A warning triangle inside the car
  • Headlamp converters
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence and motor insurance certificate
  • A GB sticker on the back of the vehicle – unless the vehicle has ‘Euro-plates’
  • Seat belts must be worn front and rear
  • Dipped headlights must be used at all times
  • Buses always have priority
  • Cyclists often have right of way (Beware of cycle lanes when turning right)
Estonia
  • 18 to drive
Speed limits vary and are signpostedIf  driver has held licence for fewer than two years they cannot drive faster than 90kph/56mph outside built-up areas, regardless of the limit Zero – there must be no alcohol in drivers’ blood stream
  • Headlamp converters
  • A fire extinguisher
  • A first aid kit
  • A warning triangle inside the car
  • Winter tyres, from December to February. It’s illegal to use them from May to September
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence, motor insurance certificate and a V5 registration document if  driving their own car
  • A GB sticker on the back of the vehicle
  • Seat belts should be worn
  • Dipped headlights must be used at all times
Finland
  • 18 to drive
Motorways:120kph/75mphOpen Roads:

100kph/62mph

Urban Areas:

50kph/31mph

0.5mg/ml
  • A warning triangle
  • Headlamp converters
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence and motor insurance certificate
  • A GB sticker on the back of the vehicle – unless the vehicle has ‘Euro-plates’
  • Seat belts must be worn front and rear
  • Headlights must be used all year round both day and night
  • Winter tyres are compulsory between December and March
France
  • 18 to drive
Motorways:130kph/80mphOpen Roads:

100kph/62mph

Urban Areas:

50kph/31mph

0.5 mg/ml
  • A warning triangle
  • Headlamp converters
  • Reflective jacket kept within reach
  • Drivers are not obliged to carry a spare set of lights, but if one bulb stops working and drivers do not have a replacement ready, they may be fined
  • From July 2012 drivers must carry at least one self-administrative  breathalyser test at all times
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence and motor insurance certificate
  • A GB sticker clearly displayed on the back of the vehicle – unless the vehicle has ‘Euro-plates’
  • Seat belts must be worn front and rear
  • Drivers have to pay motorway tolls in France – often these are automated barriers, so drivers should take plenty of change
Germany
  • 18 to drive
Motorways:No official speed limit, however top speed of 130kph/80mph is generally recommended unless signs say otherwiseOpen Roads:

100kph/62mph

Urban Areas:

50kph/31mph

0.5mg/ml
  • A warning triangle
  • Headlamp converters
  • A first aid kit
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence and motor insurance certificate
  • A GB sticker displayed clearly on the back of the vehicle – unless the vehicle has ‘Euro-plates’
  • Seat belts must be worn front and rear
  • Using dipped headlights is recommended at all times – and it’s compulsory to use them in rain, snow or fog. Using side lights only is not allowed
Greece
  • 18 to drive
Motorways:120kph/75mphOpen Roads:

110kph/68mph

Urban Areas:

50kph/31mph

0.25mg/mlIf driver has held licence for two years or less, the limit is 0.01mg/ml
  • A fire extinguisher
  • A first aid kit
  • Headlamp converters
  • A warning triangle
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence and motor insurance certificate
  • A GB sticker displayed clearly on the back of the vehicle – unless the vehicle has ‘Euro-plates’
  • Seat belts should be worn when travelling in the front of the car (It is advisable to wear one in the back too)
Hungary
  • 18 to drive
Speed limits vary across Hungary, so check the signposts for maximum speeds Zero – there must be no alcohol in drivers’ blood stream
  • A reflective jacket within reach inside the car
  • A first aid kit
  • Headlamp converters
  • A warning triangle
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence and motor insurance certificate
  • A GB sticker on the back of the vehicle – even if the vehicle has ‘Euro-plates’
  • Seat belts must be worn front and rear
  • Drivers must use dipped headlights during the day outside built-up areas
  • It’s illegal to use full-beam lights in built-up areas at night
Ireland
  • 17 to drive
Motorways:120kph/75mphNational Roads:

100kph/62mph

Regional and Local Roads:

80kph/50mph

Urban Areas:

50kph/31mph

0.8 mg/ml N/A
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence and motor insurance certificate
  • A GB sticker on the back of the vehicle – unless the vehicle has ‘Euro-plates’
  • Seat belts must be worn front and rear
Italy
  • 18 to drive
Speed limits vary across Italy, so check the signposts for maximum speeds 0.5mg/ml
  • A warning triangle
  • Headlamp converters
  • A reflective jacket within reach inside the car
  • Snow chains and winter tyres if  driving in the Val d’Aosta region between 15 October – 15 April
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence, motor insurance certificate and V5 registration document or hire car paperwork
  • A GB sticker on the back of the vehicle – unless the vehicle has ‘Euro-plates’
  • Seat belts must be worn front and rear
  • Drivers must use dipped headlights during the day on motorways, dual carriageways and out-of-town road
Latvia
  • 18 to drive
Speed limits vary so are signposted 0.5mg/ml(if the driver has been driving less than two years it is 0.2mg/ml)
  • A warning triangle
  • Headlamp converters
  • A reflective jacket within reach inside the car
  • A fire extinguisher
  • A first aid kit
  • Winter tyres, from December to February. It’s illegal to use them from May to September
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence, motor insurance certificate and V5 registration document or hire car paperwork
  • A GB sticker on the back of the vehicle
  • Seat belts should be worn (vehicles must have front seatbelts, rear seatbelts must be worn where available)
  • Drivers must use dipped headlights at all times
Lithuania
  • 18 to drive
Motorways:110kph/68mphOpen Roads:

90kph/56mph

Urban Areas:

50kph/31mph

0.4mg/ml
  • A warning triangle
  • Headlamp converters
  • A fire extinguisher
  • A first aid kit
  • Winter tyres from November to March
  • A Green Card. (If driving into the country, rather than hiring a car there. Drivers should contact their insurance company to find out more)
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence, motor insurance certificate and V5 registration document or hire car paperwork
  • Another photographic form of ID e.g. passport
  • A GB sticker on the back of the vehicle
  • Seat belts must be worn front and rear
  • Drivers  must use dipped headlights during the day
Luxembourg
  • 18 to drive
Motorways:130kph/81mphOpen Roads:

90kph/56mph

Urban Areas:

50kph/31mph

(Drivers who have held their licence for fewer than two years shouldn’t exceed 70kph/44mph)

0.8mg/ml
  • A warning triangle
  • Headlamp converters
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence, motor insurance certificate and V5 registration document or hire car paperwork
  • Drivers should carry their passport
  • A GB sticker on the back of the vehicle – unless the vehicle has ‘Euro-plates’
  • Seat belts must be worn front and rear
Malta
  • 18 to drive
Open Roads:80kph/50mphUrban Areas:

50kph/31mph

Motorways:

There are no Motorways in Malta

0.35mg/ml
  • A warning triangle
  • Headlamp converters
  • A reflective jacket within reach inside the car
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence and motor insurance certificate
  • A GB sticker on the back of the vehicle – even if the vehicle has ‘Euro-plates’
  • Seat belts must be worn front and rear
Netherlands
  • 18 to drive
Speed limits vary across the Netherlands, so check the signposts for maximum speeds 0.5mg/mlIf driver has been driving less than five years, the limit is 0.2mg/ml
  • A warning triangle
  • Headlamp converters
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence, motor insurance certificate and V5 registration document or hire car paperwork
  • A GB sticker on the back of the vehicle – unless the vehicle has ‘Euro-plates’
  • Seat belts must be worn front and rear
Poland
  • 18 to drive
Speed limits vary across Poland, so check the signposts for maximum speeds Zero – there must be no alcohol in drivers’ blood stream
  • A warning triangle
  • Headlamp converters
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence and motor insurance certificate  and V5 registration document, even then driving a hire car
  • A GB sticker on the back of the vehicle – even if the vehicle has ‘Euro-plates’
  • Seat belts must be worn front and rear
  • Drivers must use dipped headlights during the day
Portugal
  • 18 to drive
Motorways:120kph/75mphOpen Roads:

90kph/56mph

Urban Areas:

50kph/31mph

0.5mg/ml
  • A warning triangle
  • Headlamp converters
  • A reflective jacket within reach inside the car
  • Spare bulbs for car’s external lights
  • Passport – police often stop foreign drivers to check ID
  • If drivers usually wear glasses or contact lenses, a spare pair should be carried inside the car
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence and motor insurance certificate and V5 registration document, or hire car paperwork and MOT certificate if car is over three years old
  • A GB sticker on the back of the vehicle – unless the vehicle has ‘Euro-plates’
  • A yellow ’90’ disc displayed in the vehicle if the driver has held a licence for less than a year – Apply for this from the ACP (Automovel de Club Portugal), the Portuguese motoring club
  • Seat belts must be worn front and rear
  • Drivers must not carry a can of petrol in the car at any time
Romania
  • 18 to drive
Motorways:130kph/80mph

  • (10kph less if towing, 20kph less if driver has held licence for less than a year)

Open Roads:

90kph/56mph

Urban Areas:

50kph/31mph

Zero – there must be no alcohol in the drivers’ blood stream
  • A warning triangle
  • Headlamp converters
  • A first aid kit
  • A fire extinguisher
  • Winter tyres or snow chains if driving in bad weather
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence, motor insurance certificate  and V5 registration document, or hire car paperwork
  • A GB sticker on the back of the vehicle – even if the vehicle has ‘Euro-plates’
  • A road tax sticker (Rovineta- available from petrol stations and post offices)
  • Seat belts must be worn front and rear
  • Always park on the right hand side of the road, in the same direction as the traffic
Slovakia
  • 18 to drive
Motorways:130kph/80mphOpen Roads:

90kph/56mph

Urban Areas:

60kph/37mph

Zero – there must be no alcohol in drivers’ blood stream
  • A warning triangle
  • Headlamp converters
  • A first aid kit
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence and motor insurance certificate
  • A GB sticker on the back of the vehicle – even if the vehicle has ‘Euro-plates’
  • Seat belts must be worn front and rear
  • Drivers must use dipped headlights at all times
Slovenia
  • 18 to drive
Motorways:130kph/80mphOpen Roads:

90kph/56mph

Urban Areas:

50kph/31mph

0.5mg/mlIf a driver is under the legal limit but the police believe them to be unable to drive safely, then they can still be fined.
  • A warning triangle
  • Headlamp converters
  • A first aid kit
  • A reflective jacket
  • At least 4mm tyre tread if driving between 15 November – 15 March. Drivers also need to carry winter tyres and snow chains
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence and motor insurance certificate
  • A GB sticker on the back of the vehicle – even if the vehicle has ‘Euro-plates’
  • To use the motorways and some toll roads drivers need to purchase a ‘Vignette’ permit and display it on windscreen. It costs around 35 EUR for a half-year ‘Vignette’ and 55 EUR for a full year for a vehicle. Available at a number of retailers and petrol stations. Police monitor users of motorways and toll roads and could fine drivers if a valid ‘Vignette’ is not displayed
  • Seat belts must be worn front and rear
  • Drivers should always use hazard lights when reversing
Spain
  • 18 to drive
Speed limits vary across Spain, so check the signposts for maximum speeds. However:Motorways:120kph/75mph

Urban Areas:

50kph/31mph

0.5mg/ml
  • Two warning triangles inside the car – if drivers break down, put one in front and one behind the car
  • Headlamp converters
  • A reflective jacket within reach inside the car
  • Spare bulbs for the  car’s external lights, plus the tools to fit them
  • If drivers usually wear glasses or contact lenses, a spare pair must be carried inside the car
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence and motor insurance certificate and hire car paperwork
  • A GB sticker on the back of the vehicle – unless the vehicle has ‘Euro-plates’
  • Seat belts must be worn front and rear
Sweden
  • 18 to drive
Motorways:110kph/68mphOpen Roads:

90kph/56mph

Urban Areas:

50kph/31mph

0.2mg/ml
  • Appropriate seat restraints for any children under seven years of age
  • Headlamp converters
  • Drivers should always carry a full British licence and motor insurance certificate  and hire car paperwork
  • A GB sticker on the back of the vehicle
  • Seat belts must be worn front and rear

APH makes every effort to ensure that the information provided is accurate at the time of collection and publishing but it is provided without any kind of warranty. APH accepts no liability for any loss or damage arising from the use of the information.

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