Taking your vehicle abroad?

By Benchmark
Taking your vehicle abroad?
Many of us are hoping to get away for a longed for break this summer. Rather than flying, perhaps you’re choosing a more eco-friendly option and travelling to the continent by car.

It’s important to remember that each country’s motoring laws, regulations and advice are subject to constant review, change and differing interpretations. Before setting off on any trip abroad, please make sure you’re familiar with the laws which may affect your journey, including those in any countries you travel through. There are also some changes to consider now that the UK has left the European Union.


Keep the following documents with you on your journey:

DRIVING LICENCE. Make sure it’s in date.


VE103 (Vehicle on Hire Certificate). Your car is legally owned by a funder (either Arval, Alphabet, Leaseplan or Lex Autolease if your car is leased through Benchmark Leasing). A VE103 proves that you have permission from the owner/funder to drive your leased vehicle abroad. This is a must, don’t risk taking your leased car abroad without one.

“How do I obtain a VE103?”

You can either contact your funder direct or contact us here at Benchmark Leasing and we’ll help you make arrangements.

The documents could take a week or two to arrive, so allow plenty of time before your journey starts. It’s valid for a year from the date of issue and only incurs a small admin fee.

GREEN CARD. Also known as an International Motor Insurance Card, it might not actually be green! It’s used in countries worldwide and is now required as proof of your insurance when driving in many European countries. Your insurance company will supply it but contact them in plenty of time before you travel.

INTERNATIONAL DRIVING PERMIT. You might need this if you still have a paper driving licence, or your licence was issued in Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man. It’s not needed in EU countries, but check with the embassy of any other countries you intend to drive in.

GB STICKER. You will need one if your number plate includes the Euro stars, as it’s no longer valid. If your number plate has GB and the union flag, no sticker is needed.


EUROPEAN BREAKDOWN COVER. This might be included with the VE103 paperwork you receive from your funder. If not, consider arranging it yourself, to avoid the hassle of trying to find a local garage if you have any problems with your car.

WARNING TRIANGLE AND REFLECTIVE JACKETS FOR ALL PASSENGERS. Considered essential items in many EU countries, these must be stored in the body of the car, not in the boot, for easy access.

HEADLIGHTS. If you are driving in Europe, you must adjust the headlamp beam pattern to suit driving on the right so that the dipped beam will not dazzle oncoming drivers. It’s compulsory in most countries and not doing so can invalidate your insurance.

RESEARCH ANY ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR THE COUNTRY YOU’RE DRIVING IN. Did you know that, in France, it’s a legal requirement to carry a breathalyser in your car? And in France and Spain, the legal alcohol limit is lower than in the UK, at 50mg per 100ml of blood. It’s even illegal to have a dirty car in certain countries, so do your homework!

A CRIT'AIR VIGNETTE. Some areas of France have introduced low emission zones with restricted vehicle access. British drivers heading to France are advised by the RAC to obtain a 'clean air' sticker, called a Crit'Air vignette, which costs just over 3 Euros. Driving in certain areas without one could result in an on-the-spot fine. Check out the RAC website for further information.

ON-THE-SPOT FINES. These are common in many European countries, so always stick to the speed limit and ensure everyone in your vehicle wears their seatbelt at all times.

Planning on hiring a vehicle while abroad?

The paper counterpart of British photo driving licences, which records endorsements, is now computerised. So if you want to hire a car outside the UK, you will need a ‘licence check code’ from the DVLA to give to the hire company at the time of booking. This enables them to access information about any driving convictions for offences like speeding.

To get a code:

Visit the DVLA website before you leave and give the code to the rental supplier at the time of booking.

The code is valid for 21 days, so request it just before you make your booking.

The old-style paper licences, issued before the photo card was introduced in 1998, are still valid.

Safe driving!