With thousands of UK drivers taking to international roads this summer, those planning their journeys in company cars must do some pre-holiday reading to ensure they don’t fall foul of driving laws overseas, advises the AA.
“More drivers than ever before are journeying abroad in company cars,” said Stuart Thomas, head of fleet services and SME at the AA. “However, it’s crucial to ensure you stay legal on international roads. There are a number of pre-journey steps you should take to get ahead to avoid and hassle or delay to your journey.”
Prep your paperwork before you travel
Company car drivers must ensure they have the correct documentation with them before travelling abroad. This includes:
– A full valid driving licence
– Either a valid Vehicle on Hire Certificate VE103b if the car is on a lease (available from your fleet manager or fleet management company) or letter from the owner if the car is company owned which gives permission to take the vehicle outside the UK
– A current motor insurance certificate
If stopped by police, you may also be asked to produce a valid passport and proof of travel insurance so have these documents to hand, just in case.
When in Rome
Or indeed anywhere in Europe, be aware of the rules that apply for driving in each country. For example, from January this year, British registered vehicles travelling to France can now receive an on-the-spot fine of more than £100 for not displaying a ‘clean air’ sticker on their windscreen. The Crit’Air scheme requires all vehicles – cars, lorries, motorbikes and buses – to display a windscreen sticker, or vignette, according to how much they pollute. Vehicles with the highest emissions face not even being allowed to drive in the city on days where pollution is particularly high, so it is imperative for company car drivers to ensure they have the correct documentation.
Equally, in some European countries, it’s the law to carry certain items while driving. For example, it is compulsory to carry high vis jackets if travelling in Austria, Belgium, France, Italy and Spain. To avoid the risk of fines when driving in popular destinations, make sure you have all the essential or recommended equipment for your car. You must also ensure a GB sticker is clearly visible on the back of your car. Visit www.shop.theaa.com/store/driving-in-europe for a checklist of the items you will need while driving in each European country.
Driving beyond Europe
In most European countries, a UK licence is all you need to legally drive, but venture outside of Europe and you may have to carry an International Driving Permit (IDP). Recognised worldwide, this is a multi-language translation of your driving licence that is valid for 12 months.
Low emission zones – don’t get caught out
Many cities across Europe now operate low emission zones, congestion charge schemes and restricted access schemes, which affect foreign-registered vehicles.
Before travelling, check your service schedule and liaise with your fleet manager or management company to ensure one is carried out ahead of your journey. A week before you travel, ensure your oil, water and windscreen washer fluid is topped up, in addition to carrying out tyre wear and pressure checks to avoid breakdowns or delays on the road.
Breaking down while travelling abroad can be a stressful, costly experience. The cost to bring a stranded vehicle back to the UK can be particularly hefty. The AA offers both single trip and annual European Breakdown Cover for motorists travelling abroad, giving travellers unique access to over 40,000 quality assured garages in 44 countries across Europe. If you’re making a one-off trip to Europe that’s under 25 days long in a single vehicle, consider single-trip cover.
Meanwhile, the AA’s annual European Breakdown Cover policy protects motorists for unlimited trips of up to 90 days each, in one vehicle. Drivers may claim up to three times each year.
Before setting off, you should also confirm with your fleet manager or fleet management company that your insurance will cover your trip and that your vehicle warranty will not be invalidated while travelling. For more information, visit www.theaa.com/european-breakdown-cover