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UK - Europe Road Trip: Everything You Need To Know!

Updated: Nov 5, 2022

Hey folks! Welcome to your ultimate European road trip guide, which will walk (or should I say drive?) you through all the confusing parts surrounding UK to Europe travel.


Trollstigen mountain pass, Norway

Unfortunately since Brexit, British passport holders can only spend 90 days in Europe (specifically the ‘Schengen’ area) every 180 days. This article will explain this in more detail, including how to prepare your car for European roads and make your experience as awesome and stress-free as possible! 


Are you gearing up for the best drive of your life? This blog post is aimed at those who are planning to take their car, camper van or motorhome from the UK into Europe. There are a number of restrictions and requirements to be aware of, and I want to ensure you don’t receive any nasty fines or penalties!



 

In this article:


 


What is Schengen?


Schengen is a zone consisting of 26 countries where passport control is not required for entry at mutual borders. The UK left the EU in January 2020 therefore leaving the Schengen agreement. Unfortunately this has made working and travelling in Europe complicated for many Brits!


Due to these changes, UK passport holders are now only allowed to travel in Schengen areas for up to 90 days out of every 180. If you plan on staying longer than 90 days in any of the 26 countries, you can apply for a visa.


Alternatively if you are looking to stay in Europe for longer than 90 days but do not want to apply for a visa, you can do the ‘Schengen Shuffle’. This is when you leave the Schengen area for 90 days before you return. For example, you could spend 90 days in France and Germany, then head over to Croatia for the next 90 days before returning to the Schengen area.


See below countries in shades of blue that are part of the Schengen Agreement:


ETIA.com

Please be aware that if you remain in the Schengen area for more than 90 days without the appropriate visa, or if you work at all without a permit, you are illegally present. Border controls are in place between the Schengen countries and Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania (EU member states that are not included in the Schengen Agreement) and different penalties apply for each member state. 



Crossing the English Channel


There are two ways to cross the English Channel by car, van or motorhome. 


  • Eurotunnel


The Eurotunnel stretches from Folkestone to Calais and is by far the fastest option taking only 35 minutes. Here, you drive your vehicle onto the car train and remain in your vehicle for the length of the journey. Prices start from around £100 per vehicle. 


  • Ferry


There are a number of ferry routes from the UK. The quickest ferry crossing to France runs from Dover to Calais and takes around 90 minutes. Prices start from around £65 per vehicle. Our experience using this ferry crossing was simple and easy. 



Preparing your car or van for European roads


There are a number of items you need to carry with you in your vehicle when driving in Europe. Check off all the below items and avoid any hefty penalties that could put a downer on your road trip! 


Make sure there are enough so each person in the car has access to one. 




In case of a breakdown. 



So as not to dazzle oncoming cars. 



This replaces the old GB car sticker.



Compulsory in Austria, France and Germany. 



This is required to be displayed on the right side of your windscreen when driving many areas of France. The sticker signifies the level of emissions produced by your car and can restrict higher emission cars from entering some areas. This is obligatory for all vehicles and costs less than £5.



Please note: other countries such as Belgium, Germany and Sweden require you to have paid for or applied for a low emissions/clean air badge to drive through some major cities and towns. A physical badge is not always required and you are able to purchase/register for this online in many cases, so please check for the country you are heading to prior to travel!


This is no longer legally required since 2020 however you may choose to include this in your road trip kit!



In addition to the above, ensure you have the following documents handy:


  • Passport

  • Full, valid driving license and national insurance number

  • Proof of vehicle insurance

  • V5C certificate (log book)

  • Travel insurance documents

  • European breakdown cover documents



Final Notes 


It is good practice to check the government website for all up to date travel advice. I like to compare this information against the government website for the country I am travelling to - UK Gov often refers you back to the destination country’s website for the most reliable advice. 



MOT


Ensure your MOT is valid and up to date before you embark on your European adventure! A valid UK MOT is required for your insurance. 


Insurance


Make sure your car insurance covers you for European roads. If you don’t have overseas cover, your policy will usually cover you for the minimum required in the destination country. It is also common for insurers to provide cover for a maximum of 3 months overseas, and afterwards the level of cover will reduce to the minimum required. 


Breakdown


It may be worth taking out a separate breakdown cover policy or increasing your existing cover to give you peace of mind on your trip! This will alleviate unnecessary stress and significant additional expense if anything goes wrong. 


I hope you found this post useful!


Happy road trippin'!


Kitt & Lee

Life Lemons Travel

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