Photocard paper counterpart
In England, Scotland and Wales, the paper counterpart to the photocard licence was abolished on 8 June 2015 and information about penalty points is now held on the DVLA's driver record. However Northern Ireland retains a two-part licence composed of a photocard and paper counterpart.
If you're hiring a car abroad, some companies overseas may not immediately be aware of this change.
Subsequently, the AA recommended that you keep your paper counterpart rather than following DVLA advice and destroying it on 8 June.
It's also worth printing your own driving licence record from DVLA's website as you'll need to know your driving licence number, national insurance number and postcode.
Also, the DVLA suggest that you obtain a code from the DVLA's pending 'share driving licence' service that you can pass to a third party (employer, hire car company) to give them one-off, limited time access to your online driving licence record to verify the printed copy.
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Drive on the correct side of the road
Don't forget that most EU countries drive on the right hand side of the road. The only exceptions are us in the UK, Cyprus, Irish Republic and Malta.
Also, remember to alter your headlamps in preparation for driving on the right-hand side of the road.
Is there an upper age limit for car hire?
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Check your SatNav
SatNav laws differ from country to country; in France, for example, it is against the law to use a SatNav that indicates the location of speed cameras, so make sure you know what the rules are before you go there.
If you're using a SatNav and you've rented it with your car, make sure the system speaks English.
Check your insurance policy
Making sure that you have breakdown assistance cover while abroad makes a lot of sense. Comprehensive Europe-wide cover is available with Saga Breakdown Assistance.
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Be aware of road clearance
Take care when looking at road maps, particularly for old cities. Sometimes, normal-looking roads can turn out to be alleys or streets so narrow you have to pull in your wing mirrors to squeeze through.
Read up on the road rules
Study road signs in advance to familiarise yourself with basic road rules and signs. You can find country-specific information online, or contact your car rental company and see if they can provide some basic information to keep with you in the car.
For more tips and useful information, browse our motoring articles.
Essential kit to keep in the car
This list is a good starting point, but do check what the rules are for different countries so you don't get caught out and fined.
- Driving license – paper and plastic
- Insurance certificate
- Vehicle registration document (V5)
- GB identification badge
- Headlamp beam converters
- First aid kit
- Car warning triangle
- High visibility reflective jacket
- Spare set of bulbs
- Two single-use breathalyser kits.
- Loose currency for toll roads.
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