What are the new rules for taking campervans to Europe (EU) post-Brexit?
After two years of UK staycations, travel is opening up, and our neighbouring countries in continental Europe offer the perfect place to start. But taking your campervan on a road trip across the Channel isn’t quite as simple as it used to be now that the UK has left the EU.
Don’t worry, it’s still easy; there are just a few new rules and regulations to get used to. This is your quick guide to getting you on your next continental campervan adventure as easily as possible.
Ready for a continental campervan adventure?
Remember how much better a croissant tastes when you’re eating it in France? Or how fresh pasta in Italy beats anything you get anywhere else? How about the local beers in Belgium or Germany, or wine tasting at vineyards across France or Germany? Maybe something healthier is your thing, such as surfing on the Atlantic coast of Portugal, or cycling on Holland’s impressive network of cycle paths?
With your own campervan, there are endless possibilities available to you. But you need to be prepared.
What are the essential checks for a campervan trip to the EU?
Travel documents and entry requirements (including Covid documentation)
First of all, check the expiry date of your passport! Has it crept up on you during the lockdown? You need to have at least six months remaining to be allowed to enter any EU country, so if you need to renew it, do it now to avoid any last minute panics.
Vaccination certificates or proof of recent COVID infection will also be needed, and you may have to complete a form in advance of travelling. You can check the specific entry requirements for the country or countries you’re visiting here.
Vehicle tax, MOT and roadside assistance that covers you in Europe
Taking your vehicle abroad still involves making sure you have roadside assistance with roadside breakdown and recovery, plus repatriation to the UK for you and your vehicle, if necessary.
Remember to take these documents with you, and while you’re at it, make sure your road tax and any MOT are up-to-date and won’t expire while you’re away.
It’s usually wise to get your campervan serviced or at least checked before a long trip abroad when it will have to work harder than usual, possibly at higher temperatures.
And while you’re near a garage, check if the headlights on your campervan can be adjusted for driving on the other side of the road, or buy stick-on headlamp converters so you don’t dazzle oncoming traffic (as your headlights will be set up for driving on the opposite side of the road).
Campervan insurance for going to mainland Europe
It’s a good idea to use an insurance company that specialises in campervans or motorhomes as they’ll have experience of dealing with larger vehicles that are also your home from home. Some examples that spring to mind are Caravan Guard, Shield Total Insurance and the policies available to members of the Caravan and Motorhome Club.
You’ll be glad to know that since August 2021, you don’t need a green card insurance certificate if you’re visiting the EU, Switzerland, Andorra, Norway and a few other countries. For further afield, you do still need a green card, which will be available from your insurer. Keep up to date with the latest requirements here.
You still need to notify your insurance company that you’re going abroad. Your policy should have a minimum of third party cover to drive in EU countries, or if you have comprehensive cover, it may already include European cover for a certain number of days.
Don’t forget your personal and family health insurance
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is being replaced with the UK Global Health Insurance Card. Like its predecessor, this gets you access to state healthcare in the EU at a reduced cost or for free. It’s still highly recommended to have travel insurance though, to cover you for more extreme eventualities.
What vehicle documents do I need to take with me to the EU?
You still need to travel with the original V5C (log book) document and a copy of your current insurance certificate. If you lease or are hiring your campervan, or are lucky enough to have one as a company car, they don’t usually release the vehicle registration document to you, so you need to get a VE103 vehicle on hire certificate to show you’re allowed to use the vehicle abroad. These are available from the organisations such as the AA, RAC motoring services, British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA). If you’re taking your campervan to or via Liechtenstein, you’ll need an International Certificate for Motor Vehicles (ICMV) – available here.
Is a UK driving licence enough for travel to the EU?
A full UK driving licence still covers you for driving in Europe, so you don’t need an International Driving Permit (IDP) unless your licence was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man, or if you still have a paper licence. However, an IDP may be needed for some countries, such as Andorra and non-EU countries, so it’s best to check here before you leave. Note that there are different IDPs available (from Post Offices) for certain countries.
Don’t forget the GB bumper sticker is no longer valid
One important post-Brexit change is that GB stickers for the rear of your vehicle have been replaced with UK ones instead. Reflective (high-viz) jackets are still required for every person in the vehicle), as is a warning triangle -– make sure you use them if you break down by the side of the road – and many expect you to have a spare set of bulbs and a first aid kit. A breathalyser is compulsory in France. It’s usually easier to buy a driving abroad kit from retailers like Halfords or Amazon.
LEZ not be caught out by low emission zones!
If you haven’t taken your campervan abroad for a couple of years, you need to know that many more cities now have low emission zones (LEZ). In France, for instance, your campervan may need a ‘clean air’ (Crit’Air) sticker. All vehicles entering Paris must have a Crit’Air sticker, and diesel cars made earlier than 2006 are banned there completely.
Don’t overstay your 90 days
If you’re lucky enough to be planning an extended road trip, or several, during the course of the year, one of the most significant post-Brexit changes for British passport holders is that there’s now a limit on how long you can stay: 90 days in every 180 days.
To clarify, this 90-day limit applies to the Schengen area which includes most EU countries (not Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania or Ireland), plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
It means that for each period of 180 days, you can only spend a maximum of 90 days in any of this group of countries. Every day you are in one of these countries counts towards your 90 out of 180 day limit. Always check the latest updates here.
No meat and dairy allowed on the way there
There are also new restrictions on taking certain foods into the EU. You cannot take any products containing meat or dairy with you in your campervan when you travel there. So, if you used to take some of these as essentials in your fridge, you can’t do that anymore. Thankfully, for those that love to buy a few treats to bring home, there don’t seem to be any restrictions on bringing meat or dairy products back into the UK from the Continent.
Can you still take your dog or cat on holiday to the EU?
New rules came into force on 1 January 2021. It is still possible to take your dog or cat with you, but the former pet passport has been replaced with an animal health certificate (AHC) which you need to get from your vet no more than 10 days before you leave the UK. Find full details of what you need to do on the government website.
Get automatic tags for trouble-free tolls
Finally, you may have previously had one of those toll tags that automatically charge your UK bank account on the motorways in France. This is much easier and quicker than stopping at the toll booth each time and fishing around for change. The automatic tags are now called Emovis and are also available for Spain and Portugal. Find out more here.
Remember to make unforgettable memories
So, we hope the new regulations don’t put you off a campervan road trip to the Continent as there are so many amazing places to explore and cultures, food and drink to experience. Once we get used to the new rules, driving abroad will soon become second nature again. Send us a postcard from your travels!
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