With almost five million UK drivers heading abroad each summer, many of those in leased vehicles, the AA’s business services team is reminding fleet managers, finance providers and rental companies to update the checklists they share with drivers intending to take their cars across the Channel. Britain may still – for now – be part of the European Union, but there are still plenty of little-known rules which could catch drivers out.
For vehicle owners, the V5c form is essential proof the vehicle is legally registered in your name. For business drivers, however, fleet management and leasing companies will likely provide a VE103 form, which provides authority to travel. Drivers should be reminded it can take several weeks to process requests for Vehicle on Hire forms, and they should share travel plans as early as possible. The penalties for not providing documents on request include on-the-spot fines and even impounding the vehicle in some European countries.
A more recent introduction, many European cities now operate low emission zones. For travellers looking to take in the sights in cities like Paris, Lyon, Stuttgart or Milan, appropriate stickers will need to be ordered in advance to display vehicle emissions and eligibility to enter restricted areas. While the German stickers can be bought in situ, French vignettes must be ordered at least six weeks in advance. Again, on-the-spot fines and driving penalties can be issued for non-compliance. Information can be found at https://urbanaccessregulations.eu/
Although drivers are unlikely to require an International Driving Permit (IDP) to travel across Europe this summer, fleet and finance companies should direct customers to the Post Office if they intend to take their vehicle further afield. With drivers only able to apply for an IDP in branch, it pays to think ahead. Rules vary, and some countries will require an IDP tor travellers wanting to hire a vehicle when they reach their destination. More than a third of AA Populus Panel members said last year that they would be less likely to hire a car in Europe (36%) or drive their own car (37%) if an IDP was required, as may be the case post-Brexit.
Every European country has slightly different rules for what drivers need to carry in the car but, to be on the safe side, fleet managers and leasing companies should direct drivers to the AA Driving in Europe website – https://www.theaa.com/european-breakdown-cover/driving-in-europe. While most drivers are now aware of the need to carry spare bulbs, breathalyser kits, high vis jackets and warning triangles, quirkier requirements include spare fuses in the Czech Republic. Drivers can be directed to the AA’s touring advice for more detailed insights – https://www.theaa.com/european-breakdown-cover/driving-in-europe/country-by-country. They can also visit the AA Shop at Le Shuttle in Folkstone for more information and to purchase required items.
Stuart Thomas, Director Fleet & SME Services at the AA, comments: “Millions of people are set to take their cars abroad this summer and, while the complications of Brexit may not yet bite, there are still plenty of rules to catch drivers out. With so many vehicles now leased, the requirements for company car drivers or finance and rental customers can prove complex. Businesses may feel that they have shared this information before, but there is no such thing as overkill when ensuring drivers get on with enjoying their holiday rather than dealing with fines or prosecutions.”
The AA is also encouraging drivers to check their breakdown cover, via their leasing or rental provider, if they plan to tow a trailer or caravan. In many cases, additional cover will need to be purchased for the trip.