Driving laws abroad

Staying within the White Lines: Laws to Consider when Driving Abroad

Holidays abroad can be incredibly testing times, however throw driving into the mix and the situation is far more complex. With that in mind, have you ever stopped on the hard shoulder to consider that driving in foreign countries doesn’t simply just differ by having to drive on the opposite side of the road?

Here, with VW California dealers, Lookers, we compare the variation of motoring laws that you may face when driving the lengths and depths of the globe on your next trip.


In Germany, not only is it considered a legal requirement to display a sticker detailing your car’s emission rating, but most cities will only let you enter if your vehicle has a Euro 4 green sticker. The feature was introduced to limit emissions, and failure to have one on your car, truck or bus could land you an 80 euro fine.

Carrying a first-aid box is compulsory and drink driving – not that it’s condoned anywhere. Germany has stricter limits than in the UK, with anyone reading over 0.05 per cent facing fines. Also, if you’re taking your own car over for the trip, check your tyres! It’s compulsory to have winter tyres, or all-season tyres, on all axles during the wintry conditions. Snow chains should be carried in poor conditions as well. If you are stopped and aren’t in possession of this tool, the police may forbid you from continuing your journey.


Make the mistake of overtaking on the right in the UAE and you could be facing points on your license. But, make sure you don’t drive too slowly, otherwise you could be charged, too. Also, unlike in the UK where some drivers choose to ‘jazz up’ their car with witty and comedic stickers, this is not allowed in the UAE. The same goes for ‘for sale’ ads in your car.


Despite the ease of access provided by the Channel tunnel to France, their driving rules and regulations have some key differences. Firstly, you must carry a high visibility vest for each passenger who will be involved in the journey to use in the event of a breakdown. While it sounds a tad far-fetched, be sure to follow it as it’s common for French police to spot check British-registered vehicles — not having one to hand could lead to a hefty fine.

Did you know, it’s a legal requirement in France to have a warning triangle on board. So, although most modern cars have one fitted as standard, it’s certainly worth double checking before you venture into France! Spare bulbs must also be present, and your headlights must be adjusted to ensure you don’t blind on-coming traffic.

The metric system is something that catches many drivers unaware when conquering foreign roads for the first time – remember it’s kilometres per hour. On trunk roads, 90kph is the limit, unless stated otherwise, and it drops to 80kph in the wet. Similarly, motorways are traditionally 130kph, or 110kph if it’s raining.

The United States

Finally, driving in America proves to be a far trickier affair. If you are in Scituate, Rhode Island, you simply can’t carry alcohol in your car – even if it’s unopened! And don’t think about screeching your tyres in Derby, Kansas – unless you want to spend 30 days in the slammer! Then, if you’re in Marietta, Georgia, be sure you don’t spit from your car; you’re only allowed to do so from a truck.

So before getting behind the wheel abroad equipped with a high school language qualification to help you decode the road signs, it’s worth considering the variation of foreign traffic rules and regulations.






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