Taking Your Campervan to Europe
If you’re planning a trip to Europe this year then there are some key things you need to remember – from insurance and breakdown to warning triangles and Brexit!
Not every country in Europe has the same rules for specific items you are required to carry, speed limits vary across the continent and your insurance might not cover you for every country that you intend to visit, so it’s best to double check before setting out. This article doesn’t by any means cover every aspect for every country, but it will hopefully give some good pointers from which to plan.
With the confirmed date for the UK to leave the EU still in the air, we’d suggest you take a no-deal Brexit into account before heading to Europe. If a no-deal situation does arise then EU regulations state that all motorists must carry proof of insurance with them in the form of a Green Card – an internationally recognised proof of insurance document.
Green Cards are available from your vehicle insurer and often one month notice is needed for one to be issued. So, if you set off without one and no-deal happens whilst you’re away then it may put your insurance at risk. Please bear in mind that the same rule will apply to anyone travelling across the border between Northern Ireland and Eire. Also note that if you going to any of the following European countries then deal or no deal you’ll need a Green Card anyway – Bosnia & Herzegovina, Moldova, Belarus, Turkey, Macedonia & Montenegro.
Although it’s not been made 100% clear by the Government, in the event of a no-deal Brexit it may also be necessary to obtain an International Driving Permit. At the moment it’s fine to drive in Europe on a standard UK licence, but a no-deal Brexit could bring that to an end. To obtain an International Driving Permit just do so via the Post Office – they are £5.50 and you just have to be over 18 and have a full UK driving licence.
Health cover is also worth thinking about as a no-deal Brexit may lead to the current European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) being invalid. Ensuring you have insurance that also covers any medical expenses is probably a sensible option.
You should always double check with your insurer that your insurance is fully valid in Europe and check that’s the case for every country you intend to travel to and through. Some UK fully comprehensive insurance policies are only third party when in Europe, so make sure you double check – there may be an extra charge to pay. Some policies also have a limit on the number of days that you can be in Europe, so check that too!
This may very well be covered by either your vehicle insurance or your VW Warranty (for EU breakdown the VW Warranty covers your van for 2 years from the date it was first registered with the DVLA).
If your van is older than 2 years and your VW Warranty EU breakdown cover has expired then check any UK breakdown policy you may have also covers you for the EU – remember to make sure that it covers all the countries you intend to travel either through or to.
What to Take With You
Whichever countries you visit we recommend that you take the following vehicle related paperwork with you;
- Full driving licence (the plastic card is fine, there’s no need to take the old paper copy) and your International Driving Permit if you have obtained one.
- V5 vehicle registration document.
- MOT certificate – if your vehicle is more than 3 years old.
- Insurance documents and Green Card if you have obtained one.
- Details of your breakdown cover.
- Your EHIC health card and other health and travel insurance documents.
Across the EU and other European countries there are a range of laws and regulations that require you to have a number of different items with you in your vehicle at all times. Our lost below we think covers every eventuality;
- Red warning triangle – to be placed behind vehicle if you breakdown.
- Reflective bib/jacket – to be worn if you breakdown.
- Spare bulb kit – easily available from Halfords etc
- Basic tool kit.
- First aid kit.
- Torch – it must work, so to avoid flat batteries a wind up one is a good idea
- Fire extinguisher – make sure you know how to use it, as in an emergency reading the instructions suddenly becomes very difficult indeed.
- Headlight deflectors – VW sell a headlight cover/protector for the T6/T5 onto which the exact place is marked for adding the deflector tape. They are available from any VW Van Centre.
- A GB marked number plate or rear mounted sticker.
- Breathalyser kit – compulsory in France and must be calibrated to French alcohol limit.
- Glasses – if you need glasses to drive then you’ll need a spare pair with you for driving in France.
Is your Vehicle Ready?
As with all longer journeys make sure your vehicle is ready for the road;
- When was your last service?
- Check tyre condition and pressure – don’t forget to check the spare as well. Make sure you have your jack and wheel brace.
- Check the coolant, oil and water wash levels. If you have a Euro 06 engine then don’t worry about Ad Blue as the vehicle will give you a countdown warning for refilling from around 800 miles – Ad Blue will be easily available in garages across Europe.