Tips ahead of driving your classic car in Europe

Blog, Tips & Advice Guides

An EU flag being waved outside of a car when driving through Europe.

If you’re going to be embarking on a trip of a lifetime around Europe in your beloved classic car or campervan, whilst planning your route is the fun part, you’ll also want to familiarise yourself with a few rules and good-to-knows before setting off.

No matter whether you plan to start your journey in your classic from the UK, or you’re transporting it on a trailer to your destination, it’s always wise to carry out a full maintenance check over your classic car before you go, which will give you one less thing to worry about.

Let’s get into our tips and considerations ahead of driving your classic car in Europe.

Region-specific rules and customs

Driving laws and advice

You’ll want to familiarise yourself not only with the rules of the country (or countries) you’re visiting, but the driving customs too.

For example, if you plan to drive in Switzerland or Austria, your car will need to be affixed with a special sticker known as a vignette if you want to use the motorway. The cost and duration of the vignette can vary by country, so it’s important to purchase the correct one for each country you’ll be visiting.

A vignette sticker needed for cars to drive on the motorway in Switzerland.
A vignette sticker needed for cars to drive on the motorway in Switzerland.

As well as getting to grips with driving on the other side of the road, understanding local driving customs is crucial. Have your wits about you when approaching roundabouts remembering to drive anti clockwise (if driving on the right side of the road), or using the left outside lane for overtaking on motorways.

By staying on the right inside lane on motorways, you’re likely to stay out of the way of local drivers if they’re in a rush to get from A to B, which is a wise idea to keep your classic car protected.


Regional speed laws

Minimise your chances of an accident by doing your research on the customs of the region(s) you’re visiting. You’ll want to read up on local speed limit laws, both on and off the motorway – some might even surprise you!

For example, the recommended speed limit on the German autobahns is 130km/h, however there are no restrictions in the derestricted sections.


Remember to bring your essentials

It’s probably worth bringing some essentials for your trip so you’re compliant with specific regions. As a general rule of thumb, most countries require:

  • 2x red warning triangles (ideally kept inside the car)
  • High-visibility jackets for all passengers
  • First aid kit
  • Travel documents – passport, driving licence, proof of insurance
  • Breathalyser kit (country dependent)

These aren’t just recommendations, they’re regulations which you need to abide by otherwise you could face a fine.

Brexit vs EU law changes sign

What changes have been made post-Brexit?

Don’t let yourself be caught out by post-Brexit law changes.

Most EU countries will accept a photocard driving license issued in the UK, but you might need an international driving permit (IPD) for other EU countries if you have a paper driving license. Last year, UK nationals living in Majorca found just that when their paper driving licenses weren’t accepted by officials if it didn’t include a photograph. This meant that they were unable to drive without risking legal repercussions.

Do your research well in advance of any travelling date so you can make the necessary arrangements in time for your trip.

Your classic car also needs to carry a UK sticker while being driven abroad in most European countries, in line with Brexit regulations.

Planning your journey

Preparing for tolls

Whether you’re the kind of driver who knows where they’re going, or one that likes to go with the flow, while driving in Europe you’ll want to know roughly what’s coming up to avoid paying more than you need to.

Upcoming tolls are a good example of this. For example, in France the tolls are much pricier than you’re used to, so it’s always worth knowing this instead of facing steep costs on your trip. If driving through Portugal, you may want to consider renting an electronic toll device which simplifies the payment process by automatically charging the tolls to your account.


While a petrol station can be found in the most remote UK towns, the same doesn’t apply to all European countries. Make sure you fill up your tank when you have a chance, and don’t presume there will be a petrol station waiting for you in 10 miles time – which won’t always be the case.

You may want to consider carrying a spare fuel can, especially if driving through more rural areas of countries where petrol stations are less dense.

Insurance considerations

Ensure you have European driving cover

It’s essential to check that your classic car insurance includes European driving cover. By insuring with Heritage, you will receive 90 days cover for driving in Europe at no extra cost.

You’ll get all the same cover that you have when driving in the UK, as you would driving through the scenic Alpine roads of Switzerland. So, if you have an accident or your car is stolen while you’re traveling with it in Europe, you can still make a claim. Just let us know before you go!

Monitoring your annual mileage

It’s worth checking your remaining mileage you have for your classic to ensure you’re complying with insurance terms. Exceeding these can invalidate your coverage, so it’s always best to check. If you would like to increase your mileage, this can also be done.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also like our top 12 driving routes in the UK or our parent company Norton’s top 15 hidden European holiday destinations.

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