Can I travel to Europe in my campervan?

Yes! If you are planning on taking your campervan from the UK into Europe, you’re in for a treat! There are many beautiful countries to explore, and with the right preparation, it can be a very rewarding experience.

In this blog post, we will cover the essentials that you need to know in order to make your trip a success. We’ll discuss items like passports and visas, as well as some of the other legal requirements that you need to think about.

It might seem a little daunting at first but don’t let that put you off. Trust us, you and the family (maybe the dog too) are going to love it! But let’s just take a step back first, and make sure you’ve got everything covered.

Passport

This one is pretty obvious, but you will need your passport and any required visas for the countries that you will be visiting. Make sure you have at least six months left on your passport from the date of travel – some countries may require this.

Definitely check your passport is going to be in date, you don’t want any issues with it expiring or having less than 6 months left on it whilst you are travelling.

Grab it now, check that expiration date and get it renewed if necessary with your issuing passport office. You should factor in a four week turnaround time for the UK passport office.

ETIAS visa waiver scheme

Starting from 2022, British citizens will need an ETIAS visa waiver to visit Europe. This document is being introduced by the European Travel Information and Authorisation System in order to improve security in the EU.

The ETIAS visa waiver can be obtained by filling out a form online and will be valid for travel in all 26 countries of the Schengen Area.

Once you have crossed an external Schengen border, you will be able to move around the borderless travel zone without any problems.

Covid passport

We are still living under the shadow of covid-19 and it’s uncertain what the future holds. I’m writing this in February 2022 and at the moment producing a negative PCR test and some associated paperwork is a common requirement when travelling to a foreign country from the UK.

The rules and advice change frequently regarding this subject so you need to be certain you are up to date with the very latest information.

Visit Foreign travel advice – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) often to ensure you are kept informed with any recent updates.

EHIC Health card

The EU has a reciprocal agreement with the UK to access state-provided healthcare. To access the system you need either a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). EHIC is the outgoing system but if you already have a valid non-expired card then this can still be used.

To apply for a GHIC, go to the NHS website. Keep in mind that you may still have to pay for medication and other health facilities, so make sure your travel health insurance covers those costs.

Travel insurance

It’s always a good idea to have travel insurance, and this is especially important when travelling around Europe in a campervan. Your travel insurance should cover you for all eventualities, including loss of personal items, cancellation or delay of your trip, as well as medical expenses. Make sure you are fully covered before setting off on your holiday.

If you have travel insurance included as a perk with your bank account then satisfy yourself that it offers the right level of cover for you.

Animal Health Certificate

If you’re planning on taking your pet with you when you travel to an EU country or Northern Ireland, make sure that you have the proper documentation.

This includes an animal health certificate (AHC), proof of their microchip and rabies vaccination, and proof of tapeworm treatment if travelling to Finland, Ireland, Norway or Northern Ireland.

The AHC must be obtained no more than 21 days before you travel and is valid for four months. Only a Vet can issue an AHC document. This has all changed since Brexit and you can no longer use a Pet Passport, so be sure to familiarise yourself with the new rules.

You should contact your vet well in advance to arrange for any of the treatments and vaccinations to be administered.

There are more surprising rules for pet owners. You are not allowed to bring any meat-based products into the EU so don’t be tempted to bring your own, it will be confiscated.

Instead, bring some vegan based food with you until you reach your destination and can purchase some pet food in the local supermarkets.

Bringing your pet on the trip is a lengthy topic itself, find out more about it here .

Driving Licence

As long as you have a valid, full driving license with a photo, then an International Driving Permit (IDP) is not required. If you are one of the few that does have the older paper license then now is the time to change it for a new one.

If you don’t want to do this then an IDP will be required. You can apply for these at the post office.

Vehicle on Hire Certificate

You could be asked to show your documents at any time by someone official-looking, probably clasping a clipboard. When you take a UK registered vehicle into Europe you need to take the V5c with you, the original document, not a photocopy. Obviously, in a hired vehicle, this is not possible and is a recognised scenario by the officials.

In this instance, you will need a Vehicle on Hire Certificate (VE103) and also written confirmation from us, giving our permission for you to drive the vehicle. When you book your campervan, provided you also selected the European Travel option, we will take care of applying for the correct documents for you.

Please be aware that the VE103 has to be processed by a third party (RAC) and can take 7 days to be produced so don’t leave it to the last minute to notify us.

European Travel kits

Ensure you know the rules about what items you need to take with you for the countries that you plan to visit. Most countries specify spare bulbs, high-viz jackets and warning triangles but other countries have quite the list!

Although we will do our best to remind you about these items, the responsibility ultimately lies with you to check that you are compliant with the rules.

Make sure you have everything you need before you start your European campervan holiday. The AA has a great guide on the compulsory kit required for your travels.

Clean Air Zones

Some of the major cities within Europe have environmental zone restrictions. Each country has its own set of rules with no uniform standards, unfortunately. For example, Germany uses the Umwelt stickers and France uses Crit’Air stickers, both of which need to be affixed to the windscreen.

Each sticker or Vignette needs to be requested separately via the respective countries government website.

We can apply for these on your behalf, but it is your responsibility to tell us which countries you plan to visit and what applicable cities you will be driving through. Use this handy site to check if your planned route will be impacted. https://urbanaccessregulations.eu/

Displaying number plates

The government has been communicating contradicting information about GB stickers and EU symbols when it comes to number plates, but have finally settled on the following:

If your number plate includes the UK identifier with the Union flag (also known as the Union Jack), you do not need a UK sticker.

However, you will need to display a UK sticker clearly on the rear of your vehicle if your number plate has any of the following:

  • a GB identifier with the Union flag
  • a Euro symbol
  • a national flag of England, Scotland or Wales
  • numbers and letters only – no flag or identifier

If you’re in Spain, Cyprus or Malta, you must display a UK sticker no matter what is on your number plate.

If you have a GB sticker, cover or remove it before driving outside the UK.

You do not need a UK sticker or number plate to drive in Ireland.

So in summary, you need the ‘UK‘ designation clearly displayed when travelling.

If you will be travelling into Cyprus, Malta or Spain please do let us know so that we can arrange for the appropriate sticker to be applied to your vehicle.

30 mph Speed limits

In the UK, you are frequently reminded when one speed limit ends and another begins. For example, you will see a new road sign that indicates 30 mph when leaving a 50 mph section going into a 30 mph zone. In Europe, this is not always the case so be mindful.

Many urban 30 mph zones are only indicated by the presence of the village name that you are passing through. So when you see that village name on the road sign, make sure you have adjusted your speed accordingly.

When you exit the village or urban area, you will again see the name but this time it will be crossed out. This signifies the end of that speed restriction.

Conclusion

So before you take your campervan on a European holiday, make sure you’re aware of the rules and regulations. We’ve highlighted some key points that you need to be mindful of, but it’s always best to double-check with the relevant authority in each country you plan to visit.

With a little preparation, your holiday will run smoothly and you’ll avoid any costly mistakes.

Bon Vacances!

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