Drive In Europe


JANUARY 2015:



IS DRIVING IN EUROPE A GOOD IDEA?

As a UK Passport holder, the thought of driving Europe is very appealing. At least, if you want to Drive In Europe, it is a better prospect than Driving in Latin America.

Every UK car insurance policy allows the minimum level of cover required by the law in the countries you travel through – normally third-party only. You need to get Green Card insurance, which you can buy in the UK, to extend this to the non EU Countries.

Countries covered by the Green Card are –

Albania
Andorra
Austria
Belarus
Belgium
Bosnia
Bulgaria
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Iceland
Iran
Ireland
Israel
Italy
Latvia
Lichtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Macedonia
Malta
Moldova
Montenegro
Morocco
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Russia
Serbia
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Tunisia
Turkey
Ukraine
UK

The EU countries that don’t need a Green Card by law are:

Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK

You cannot keep a UK-registered car in another EU country for more than six months of any 12 months.


THE SIMPLE SOLUTION:

The simplest solution may be to buy a UK REGISTERED LHD vehicle that is already on UK PLATES.

Otherwise, you will need to understand some of the difficulties faced when purchasing and registering left hand drive cars, especially those with a foreign registration, in the UK and abroad.


THE EUROPEAN USED CAR MARKET:

By purchasing your LHD car off Ebay or via specialist publications you will generally find that you will save a substantial amount on the European retail price of a car, there are however pitfalls……


STOLEN CARS / OUTSTANDING FINANCE:

As most buyers know when purchasing a UK car it is possible to perform a HPI check.  This will tell you if the car is stolen, has outstanding finance, has been the subject of an insurance claim, has had a previous plate etc.  Unfortunately there are no similar UK based systems for foreign vehicles and sometimes performing those checks, even when living in that country, is difficult and time consuming.

Buying privately you have very little comeback – as the old phrase goes, “Buyer Beware”!  If you chose to buy from a registered UK company you will at least usually have a warranty and comeback should there be a problem with the legal title of the car you have just bought.  There are several UK and overseas based specialist LHD companies who will provide you with good service and peace of mind.


NON EU-COMPLIANT VEHICLES:

Take particular care when purchasing a LHD vehicle which was supplied from outside of the EU as registration, even if the vehicle is currently on UK plates, in other countries can be very difficult, and sometimes even impossible without a European Certificate of Conformity.  Cars built for the EU market will have E numbers marked all over but the easiest to see will be on the windows and the lights.


RE-REGISTERING A FOREIGN CAR IN THE UK:

So you have just bought your ideal car off ebay which is on foreign plates so you decide that you wish to UK register the car.  There are many changes, some of which are very expensive, you must comply with…

In order to re-register the car you must have a Foreign Registration document, Certificate of EU Conformity, an MOT, (if the car is over 3 years old), and UK type approval.  You can obtain the COC from the manufacturer (usually at a cost of circa £100), the MOT, (once the car is UK compliant), from any test station and the UK type approval from the VCA.  Before the VCA take your money and issue the certificate you must have the car modified to suit the UK and provide the invoice for the works from a reputable garage. i.e the headlamps must be changed to RHD lights, the rear fog lamp must illuminated on the RH side of the vehicle, the speedo must have MPH markings, there must be side/wing mounted indicators.  All in circa £1000!


REGISTERING A LEFT-HAND-DRIVE VEHICLE:

The process is relatively straightforward and starts with a review of the vehicle you have bought and the following questions:

  1. Has Import Duty been paid and Import VAT?
  2. Does it have seats belts to accommodate all passengers?
  3. Does it have a rear fog light?
  4. Do the headlights point in the right direction for right hand driving? Some cars come with either directional switches or special beams for both sides of the road
  5. Does it have miles per hour speedo? Speedo’s are OK if they have MPH on the inner ring or digital readouts in addition to KPH.

The next step is to get a Certificate of Mutual Recognition. Next you will register the car. Then get your number plates made.


AND THEN, FOR EACH COUNTRY, YOU WILL NEED:

O=Optional, M=Mandatory       A L B A N I A         B O S N I A     B U L G A R I A       C R O A T I A           C Z E C H         G R E E C E       H U N G A R Y   M A C E D O N I A M O N T E N E G R O       R O M A N I A         S E R B I A     S L O V A K I A
A valid, full UK driving licence – both the photo and paper parts M M M M M M M M M M M M
An International Driving Permit (IDP) M M M M M M M O
A GB sticker on the back of your car M M M M M M M M M M M M
Your motor insurance certificate (showing coverage for this country if not an EU member) M M M M M M M M M M M M
The V5 Vehicle Registration Document M M M M
A Green Card – it backs up your motor insurance documents and shows you’ve got the minimum legal level of cover M O O O O O O O O O
Headlamp converters M M M M M M M M M M M M
A warning triangle inside the car in case you break down O M M M M M M M M M M M
Set of spare bulbs for your car’s external lights O M O M M O O M M O O O
Set of spare fuses M
A first aid kit O M M M M M M M M M M M
Winter tyres or snow chains, if you’re travelling between 15 November – 15 March M O M O M M M M O
A reflective jacket within easy reach inside the car. You’ll need to wear this if you stop for any reason outside built-up areas, even if you’re just setting up a warning triangle M M M M M M
A Tow Bar and Tow Rope (at least 3m) M M M
A fire extinguisher M M M O
A road tax sticker / motorway sticker if you’re driving on the motorway prominently displayed in your car – you can buy this from ports, border points and petrol stations M M M M M
If you usually wear glasses or contact lenses, you must carry a spare pair with you in the car. M
Border must certify any visible damage to a vehicle on entry. This certificate must be produced when leaving. M M M M M M M M
European Accident Claim Form O
Can buy insurance at Border on entry to the country Y Y
Emergency Kit: Jack, spare wheel, fan belts, wiper blades, and overnight food O
At least 2 single use breathaliser kits M
An NF-approved (Norme Française) breathalyser in your car. You can buy one at an RAC Shop. F R A N C E

Other things you should know:

  • You might have to pay motorway tolls – these may be payable in cash so take plenty of change
  • Children under the age of 5 must use an appropriate child seat
  • Children under age 12 can’t sit in the front seat
  • Anyone under the influence of alcohol can’t sit in the front seat, even as a passenger

MY CONCLUSION:

I decided to use Public Transport in South East Europe this time.