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Driving holidays in Europe - Plan your self-drive motoring holiday

Driving in the UK. British motoring laws.
Tips on driving in Great Britain. Motoring rules and regulations in the United Kingdom.

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Make sure you Drive Alive! Drive on the left!
  • The United Kingdom consists of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Some of the rules referred to below apply to driving in England, Scotland and Wales only - Northern Ireland has some slightly different rules.

  • In the United Kingdom you drive on the left side of the road.

  • Use this Guide from the government website to see if you can drive in Great Britain on a non-GB licence. EU residents can drive in the UK on a full licence issued by their home country subject to the same conditions that apply to UK licence holders. In general visitors from all other countries who possess a valid driving licence from that country will be able to drive in the UK for a limited period, usually up to 12 months.

  • In the UK imperial measures of speed and distance are used so speed limits and distances are in miles per hour (mph). 5 miles is equal to 8 kilometres.

  • If you are driving a left hand drive car be especially careful when setting off from service stations or restaurants on the right hand side of the road. Remember to drive on the left.

  • Take care when overtaking - allow more space between you and the car in front so you can see further down the road ahead.

  • Blood alcohol levels above 80 mg per 100 ml mean you cannot drive legally. Rather than present you with meaningless figures relating to blood/breath alcohol levels, our advice is if you're driving, don't drink.

  • When approaching a roundabout give way to traffic already on the roundabout, on your right, unless signed otherwise.

  • Speed limits, shown below, are implemented rigorously. Mobile radar traps are frequent, with many fixed cameras installed by the roadside. The speed limit on non-regulated roads which are not motorways is 60 mph (102 km/h). Non-regulated motorways and dual carriageways have a limit of 70 mph (108 km/h). Such non-regulated speed limits are shown by a circular white sign with a black diagonal line across it. All other speed limits are signed and the limits shown below are over-ridden by such signed limits.

Speed Limits Motorway Open Road Dual Carriageway Town
United Kingdom 70 mph (110 km/h) 60 mph (102 km/h) 70 mph (110 km/h) 30 mph (50 km/h)

Children in cars: Strict regulations apply regarding children, infants and babies in cars: see the Government website.

Documentation: always carry your driving licence, vehicle registration document (V5), and certificate of motor insurance. If your licence does not incorporate a photograph ensure you carry your passport to validate the licence. If you are driving a vehicle registered in another country ensure you carry the relevant documents from the country of registration, including your licence and proof of insurance. If the vehicle is not registered in your name, carry a letter from the registered owner giving you permission to drive. If you are driving a hire car keep all documents proving you are the hirer of the vehicle.

Drinking and driving: Don't do it. If you are stopped, breathalised and found to be over the limit of 80 mg per 100 ml you can be arrested.

Fines: On the spot fines are not issued in the United Kingdom. Certain traffic offences are arrestable.

Fire extinguisher: advised but not mandatory

First-aid kit is advised, but not compulsory.

Fuel: All grades of unleaded petrol and diesel are available. LPG is only available at some stations. It is allowed to carry petrol in a can. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted. Petrol stations on Motorways are open 24/7 and on major roads and in towns fuel can normally be found between 7 am and 10 pm. Stations in rural areas will often only open during normal working hours.

Headlamp converters are compulsory if the vehicle you are driving comes from a country where you drive on the right.

Lights: dipped headlights must be used in poor daytime visibility (less than 100 metres).

Licence requirements for visitors to the UK and Minimum age for driving, If you hold a valid EU Community Licence and are visiting the UK you can drive any vehicle, which your licence entitles you to drive. You must comply with British minimum age requirements. These are 17 years for cars and motorcycles.

Mobile phone: it is illegal to use a mobile phone whilst driving.

Motorcycle drivers and passengers must wear crash helmets.

Motor insurance: third-party insurance is compulsory. If you are driving a UK registered car the insurance must be through a UK company. Anyone else who drives your car must be named on your insurance policy unless their own insurance covers them for this. If you drive somebody else's car make sure that your own or the vehicle owner’s insurance will cover you. Uninsured vehicles are automatically detected by roadside cameras. Such vehicles can be taken away and crushed.

Replacement bulb set recommended.

Seat belts  front and rear must be worn by adults and children over 12 years of age. For children and babies see the Government website. Certain medical conditions may be exempted but a certificate must be obtained from a doctor.

Supermarkets: Most supermarkets are open every day from around 8 am to 8 pm with larger ones open longer, some 24/7 except Sunday night.

Winter tyres are recommended but not compulsory. See winter drivingBACK TO TOP

All information on this page is provided as a service to our clients. It is intended as a guide to the more important rules for the different countries to which we offer driving holidays. It is not meant to be a comprehensive document. We try and keep the information on this page up-to-date, but we cannot be held responsible in any way for any consequences arising from any inaccuracies. If you find a mistake or would like to send us some additional information, please email us. Your co-operation is appreciated.