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Driving overseas | A guide to getting around safely

The right insurance, breakdown cover, an international driving licence, driving on the wrong side? Help! Whether you’re hiring a car or taking your own car abroad for your holiday, you’ll need to get yourself organised and sort some essentials before you go. Take a look at our quick guide to driving overseas and let Holiday Extras make your travels easier.

Driving overseas - be prepared!

Driving overseas, tuk tuk

Image: Greenwich Photography under Creative Commons licence.

The right paperwork

You can use your Great Britain or Northern Ireland driving licence in all EU countries, but you may need an International Driving Permit outside of this area. An IDP is available from the Post Office, the AA and the RAC, and costs £5.50. It’s not a replacement for your normal driving licence, you’ll need to take this too.

Drivers taking their own cars overseas need to carry the original vehicle registration document (V5c). If you are taking a car that you do not own, you will need a letter of authorisation from the registered owner and either the original V5c or a Vehicle on Hire certificate (VE103b).

Car hire

Hiring a car abroad can be a minefield, so do it well in advance and online if you can. Look out for cheeky fuel policies and high child seat costs. You’ll have plenty of time to compare deals and check the small print - and it’s likely to be cheaper and less stressful than waiting until you arrive at your destination airport.

Insurance

When renting a car, you’ll be offered an array of insurance policies at a number of prices and levels. It is wise to take the hire company’s basic cover and arrange your own car hire excess policy separately - expect to pay your rental firm a refundable deposit on your credit card.

If you’re driving your own car, check that your insurance covers you for everything you need in your destination. You may only be covered for basic road traffic accidents or have third party cover. It could be worth extending your cover for your holiday. A free Green Card is also available, which proves that you are covered in the UK and entitled to basic third party insurance in most parts of Europe.

Don't forget to take your insurance documents with you.

Breakdown cover

Your car rental agreement will include a basic level of breakdown cover, but you will be bombarded with a variety of optional extras. You probably don’t need them.

When it’s your own car you’ll be driving overseas, check what your usual breakdown service includes. You might need to extend your cover before you go.

Rules of the road

If you’re planning on driving a car or renting a moped or motorbike overseas, check out the AA’s comprehensive country by country advice on driving overseas or the FCO road safety widget. Rules change, so before every holiday make sure you check speed limits, the correct side to drive, overtaking etiquette, headlight settings, seat belt requirements, and the right kit to carry. And don’t risk drinking alcohol at all when driving overseas.

In-car kit

Give your hire car the once-over and make sure that it holds the right compulsory equipment. If you’re driving your own car, get kitted out with the correct GB stickers, reflective jackets, warning triangle, first aid kit and so on for the country you are visiting - using the trusty AA guide above.

Don't waste money hiring a sat nav when you're away - buy an app that uses the GPS on your smartphone, or take your sat nav from home.

Pre-holiday service

Before you take your car on holiday, give it a health check and get everything in working order.

Do the same for yourself too! By the time you get going on foreign soil, you’ll be tired and impatient - be prepared and drive safe.

How do you prepare for driving overseas? Tell us below, and if you enjoyed this post like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Google+. Written by Maxine Clarke, follow her on Twitter @travellingmax, or email maxine.clarke@holidayextras.com
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