Motorhome and camper van travel in Europe

Thinking about taking your motorhome or camper van to Europe for the first time can be daunting – and not just because you’ll be driving on “the wrong side of the road”.

There are various documents and items you’ll need to bring with you to stay within the law – a situation not helped by Brexit.

But don’t let a few regulations (OK, a lot) put you off from enjoying some of the most beautiful countries in the world. Enjoy our guide below and you’ll be ready to set off for the continent.

Where are you staying?

First think about the places you want to visit and where you want to stay. Unless you thrive on uncertainty, we’d strongly recommend booking sites in advance so that you have a plan in place – particularly if you’re travelling during the school holidays.

Do you want to stay on a recognised campsite with all the modern facilities? Many on the continent have swimming pools or even private beach areas to enjoy.

Or would you rather stop somewhere more remote away from crowds or children? Or perhaps making use of the plentiful overnight parking spots in Europe is for you?

The overnight spots – called aires in France, stellplatz in Germany and sostas in Italy – are excellent and you can usually find a place to park up overnight, even in the height of summer. Some are even free of charge or at worst reasonably priced – and most have water and waste facilities. They are, however, more geared towards convenience than offering a full camping experience. Strictly speaking, the chairs and tables should remain stowed in the vehicle as this is deemed ‘camping behaviour’.

Whatever you decide, it won’t surprise you to read there are websites to help you track down the perfect resting place. remains a Travelworld favourite as it allows you to filter results until you strike upon exactly what you are looking for. For overnight stopover spaces, also try

Passports and documents

You must have at least three months remaining on your passport (issued in the past 10 years) at your intended date of departure from Europe. That is unless you’re taking the motorhome to Ireland, when no passport is required for British nationals.

From 2024, all visa-free travellers to the European Union will need to register online with ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System).

A full UK driving licence allows you to drive in all EU countries. If you only have a paper driving licence, you’ll need an International Driving Permit.

You will need a new style UK numberplate with the Union Flag printed on it. Failing that, a UK sticker will need to be displayed on the rear of your motorhome or camper van. The exception is Spain, where you require a UK sticker even if you have a new numberplate.

Third-party insurance is the minimum requirement when travelling in the EU, but you no longer need to apply for a green card as proof. You still need to carry your Certificate of Motor Insurance and the logbook (V5C) for the vehicle.

Headlights need to be changed so that they point right rather than left. Failure to do so could cause insurance problems should you have an accident overseas. On high-end motorhomes this can be done electronically from the dash panel, otherwise headlight adapters should be fitted.

Brexit rules say you need evidence of a return ticket and enough funds to cover your stay, though no fixed amount is stipulated.

It’s not a legal requirement, but you’d be wise to apply for a GHIC or EHIC (Global or European Health Insurance Card) to access healthcare when abroad.

If you’re taking a company-owned, hired or borrowed vehicle you’ll need a letter of authorisation from the registered keeper.

Other items you need to carry in many countries include reflective jackets in case of breakdown, a warning triangle, spare bulbs and tyres, a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher and snow chains when in cold countries. Check out the AA’s country-by-country guide for more details.

All of this may well seem very daunting and a lot to remember. The Wandering Bird blog has produced a printable checklist to help you on your way!

Other considerations

Speed limits vary from country to country – don’t get caught out!

Low emission zones are now commonplace in many major cities across Europe, as well as congestion charge schemes and other restricted access schemes. Some of these require registration beforehand.

Don’t assume your UK-issued credit card will work at all petrol stations and stores in Europe. Check before you travel to avoid any payment-based embarrassment.

If you’re planning to travel with your beloved pet, make sure you check the rules on the Government’s website.

In case of emergency, dialling 112 rather than 999 anywhere in the EU will get you through to the control centre.

Limits for the acceptable amount of alcohol in your blood while driving vary from country to country – and are typically lower than in the UK, in some cases 0%. Don’t chance it.

If you wear glasses, take spares with you or you could have serious problems should you sit on your only pair.

Ensure your sat nav is set up to work in Europe and it’s worth packing good quality maps, just in case. Be aware that sat navs that advise on locations of fixed speed cameras are illegal in some countries.

Finally, it’s a good idea to service your vehicle prior to departure to minimise the risk of breakdown – and make sure windscreen fluid is full and tyres are in good condition.

Our team at Erwin Hymer Centre Travelworld are happy to help with any overseas motorhome travel questions you may have. Get in touch to find out more.

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