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All you need to know about driving from UK to France

Although UK has stopped being a member of the EU on 31st January 2020, the rules for driving a UK vehicle in France remains fairly straight-forward. Below is all you need to know about driving from UK to France.

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Compulsory Documents:

PassportMust be carried at all times when driving in France. Do not leave it in the safe in the hotel as it might get you into a bit more hassle.
Driving LicenseA full valid (not provisional) UK license is required to drive in France. You must be 18 or over to drive in France.
V5CRequired as proof of ownership of the vehicle that you are driving. If the vehicle is not in your name, make sure you have a signed letter from the owner.
Certificate of InsuranceRequired as proof that the vehicle is insured for the driving in France. Please check with your motor insurer to ensure you have the right cover before setting off.
All you need to know about driving to France from UK

Compulsory Items:

UK Sticker

A UK sticker in the official dimension need to be clearly visible from the back of your vehicle. This will not be required if you have a number plate with the UK identifier and the Union Jack flag that meets official requirements.

Hazard Warning Triangle

In the event of a breakdown, you need to put a warning triangle approximately 30m from your vehicle to warn in-coming vehicles.

Fluorescent Safety Vests

In the event of a breakdown, every passenger in the vehicle is required to wear one of these when you step out of the vehicle. Hence, it must be within reach without having to exit the vehicle.

Headlamp Beam Converter

As UK vehicles are designed for driving on the left, driving on the right in France will mean that your headlamp beam will dazzle drivers from opposite direction when driving at night or day. A headlamp beam convertor is compulsory to correct this.

Snow Chain

This is compulsory when there is snow on the roads and clearly stipulated by traffic road signs. This is likely to be the case for most roads in the French Alps in the winter.

Other Recommended Items, but not Compulsory:

First Aid Kit, Fire Extinguisher, Spare Bulbs and Fuses.

Although not compulsory, we would recommend getting the First Aid Kit as well as the spare bulbs for convenience. One less thing to worry about when you are on the road trip in France.

All you need to know about driving to France from UK
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Speed Limits:

Speed limits are very similar to the UK but expressed in kilometres (rather than miles) and reduced if the roads are wet. Below are the common speed limits, unless otherwise indicated on the roads you are on.

a: Urban areas: 50 km/h – 50km/h

b. Rural areas: 80km/h (70km/h if raining)

c. Dual carriageways: 110 km/h (100 km/h if raining)

d. Toll Motorway/ Autoroute: 130 km/h (110 km/h if raining)

If you are towing a trailer, the speed limit is 65km/h if the trailer is heavier than your car by less than 30%. The speed limit is 45km/h if >30%.

If you have only had your license for less than 3 years, you must follow the speed limits as if the roads are wet, i.e. must not exceed 110km/h on toll motorways.

Child Seats:

All children up to the age of 10 must travel in a car seat or boaster seat in the back seat of the vehicle.

All you need to know about driving in France from UK
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Emission Laws in France:

If you are travelling to Paris, Lyon and Grenoble, you will need an Air Quality Emissions Certificate (click here to apply for this through the official French government website). You will need to attached an image/photo or a scanned copy of your V5C in pdf, png or jpeg format and it must not exceed 400kB. Please allow sufficient time for this to be posted to you ahead of your trip (we have heard that it can take up to 6 weeks).


It is illegal to use hands-free headset for answering phone calls or listening to music while driving in France. Motorcycle helmets with integrated headset are exempted from this.

Breakdown Procedure:

If your vehicle has broken down on the motorway, you have to use one of the orange emergency phones at the roadside to call for help. This is because the motorways in France are private. A local towing company will tow you to a recovery zone where you can then call your insurer for assistance. The charge for this service is about €125 and it is fixed by the French government.

All you need to know about driving in France from UK
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Alcohol Limits:

It is lower than in the UK. You are allowed a maximum of 0.5mg/ml of alcohol per litre in your blood, compared to 0.8mg/ml in the UK. The limit is 0.2mg/ml if you have less than 3 years driving experience. Please do drink responsibly.


A single yellow line in France means that you cannot park nor stop. You may stop to load or unload but not park on a dotted yellow line.


Unlike the UK, most motorways in France have tolls. Make sure you have EURO cash/coins or a debit card. If you are planning to do regular trips into France, might be worthwhile to consider getting an Emovis Tag ( to use the automated lanes without fumbling for coins.

Please let us know if we have missed out any other points that you think are relevant. As always, happy to hear from you.


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