Looking to take your camper overseas in 2024? Here’s a quick guide to bring you up to speed on things to do, and what to avoid, while driving your campervan abroad.
You’ll find loads more tips and helpful articles like this here at Just Kampers, from mechanical know-how to epic road trips. We’ve put together this guide to help you have a smooth and hassle-free journey in your camper if you’re heading out of the UK and into Mainland Europe, whether it’s for a VW show in the EU or a family holiday.
These ten tips will help make your adventure much more fun, and help you avoid forgetting vital documents or other items required to travel into and through different parts of Europe.
Remember Your Important Travel Documents
When driving abroad, there are various documents that are worth keeping to hand. Before setting off on your adventure, you should check what documents are required for the countries you’ll be travelling to or through, and make sure they’re all valid.
If you find that you’re missing documents or they’re no longer valid, you should aim to get replacements arranged as soon as you can, since some of these documents can take weeks to arrive or renew. Some documents are standard that you’ll need wherever you travel to, but others can depend on the country.
It’s also best to keep them all together, and put them somewhere which is convenient for you to get to, but is also safe and secure. Items like passports can be difficult and costly to replace, especially if you’re overseas.
Some examples of documents you may need are:
• Your driving licence,
• Proof of ID, such as your passport,
• Your vehicle registration document (V5C),
• Proof of vehicle insurance,
• Your travel insurance documents,
• Your breakdown cover policy number and documents for where you’re travelling to,
• Insurance green card,
• VE103 certificate if you’re renting a vehicle,
• European accident statement (EAS) form.
You can find more information about driving in the EU on the gov.uk website: gov.uk/guidance/driving-in-the-eu
Check Whether Your Camper Needs a UK Sticker
You’ll need to place a UK sticker on the back of your van when driving outside the UK if your van's number plate has no flag or identifier, a GB identifier with a Union flag, a European Union flag, or the national flag of England, Scotland or Wales.
The exception to this is if you’re driving in the Republic of Ireland, where these aren’t necessary.
If you’re planning on travelling in Spain, Cyprus, or Malta, you’ll need this UK sticker on the back of your van regardless of what’s on your number plate.
It’s also worth noting that if you have a GB sticker on your camper which is from before 29 September 2021, you’ll need to replace it with the newer UK sticker or stick the new one over the top of it.
Arranging EU Driving Cover
You’ll want to make sure that your camper is insured while you’re driving through Mainland Europe, just like it would be when driving here in the UK.
EU Driving Cover is a standard policy benefit when you insure your camper with Just Kampers Insurance, so you’ll be covered in all EU countries (and further afield). You can find out more about EU Driving Cover from Just Kampers Insurance here: justkampersinsurance.com/policy-benefits/european-driving-cover/
Alternatively, if you’re insured with someone else, you’ll want to check what coverage you have in the EU (if any) and potentially ask about getting it added to your policy.
To find out what cover your insurance plan has for different countries, you can check your policy booklet, your Certificate of Insurance, and your policy schedule.
Find Out If You’ll Need an Insurance Green Card
A green card is used when you’re driving abroad as proof of your insurance.
As of August 2021, you no longer require an insurance green card to drive in any EU countries, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia and Switzerland.
Some countries, such as Albania, Azerbaijan, Iran, Israel, Moldova, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine, may require you to carry a green card as proof of insurance.
You can get a green card for your van by contacting your insurer. You should preferably contact us at Just Kampers Insurance with plenty of time before you’re due to travel, with your dates of travel and a list of all the countries you’ll be driving in. We will then provide you with green cards for the dates and countries you need.
It’s important to note that you’ll need an additional green card if you’re towing a trailer or caravan or if you have two policies covering your trip. These green cards will need to be shown if you’re involved in an accident, stopped by the police, or at the border between countries.
Organising Travel and Healthcare Insurance
Having travel insurance that fits your journey is very important, not least because you can relax knowing that you’re covered if you do have problems along the way.
Travel insurance can cover a variety of things such as medical costs, personal items, cancellations, and delayed/missed departures. European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) and the newer UK Global Health Insurance Cards (GHIC) can be applied for without any costs and will provide you with medically necessary and emergency treatment.
These aren’t replacements for travel insurance with healthcare cover as they won’t cover all health-related costs and will never cover the costs to return you to the UK.
Bringing Your Pet on Your Adventures
If you’re travelling to an EU country or Northern Ireland from Great Britain, your pet or assistance dog will need to be microchipped, have a valid rabies vaccination, have an animal health certificate or a pet passport accepted in the country you’re travelling to.
If you’re travelling to Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta, you’ll also need proof of tapeworm treatment for your dog.
When you arrive you’ll also need to go through the travellers’ point of entry where you might have to show evidence that your pet meets the necessary requirements to enter the country.
If you’re travelling to a non-EU country and live in Great Britain, you’ll need an export health certificate (EHC) and fill out an export application form (EXA). Your EHC will be completed by your nominated official vet, who’ll check that your pet meets the requirements of the country you’re travelling to.
You can find more information on travelling with your four-legged friends on another Just Kampers blog: JK's Top Tips For Camping With Dogs
Will You Need an International Driving Permit?
An International Driving Permit (IPD) is used alongside your driving licence as a multi-language translation of your driving licence. It can’t be used in place of your driving licence but will allow you to drive internationally with your licence.
Usually, if you’re driving in the country for less than 90 days, you won’t need an IDP, but there are some exceptions. An IDP may be needed if you only have a paper licence or if your licence was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey, or the Isle of Man.
It’s also worth checking whether there are any additional requirements based on the vehicle you’re driving, for example if you’re towing a trailer or driving a particularly large converted campervan.
Bringing Food and Drink into Different Countries
There are some food and drink restrictions when travelling to countries within the EU. For example, any meat, milk, or products containing them can’t be taken into any EU countries, with the exception of infant milk, infant food, and special pet food needed for medical reasons.
Similarly, some plant products such as fruit and vegetables (except bananas, pineapples, coconuts, and dates), can’t be taken into EU countries.
You should check the EU Commission website before packing your food ready for your journey. You don’t want to end up with officials unpacking your entire camper to check what you’ve carefully stowed away in your van, so make sure you’ve not accidentally packed anything you’re not allowed to bring into a country you’re travelling to or through.
Important Equipment to Take on Your Travels
Some essentials that you will carry in your van will be compulsory in the places you travel to, such as:
• A reflective warning triangle, which is compulsory in most countries,
• Reflective jackets for each passenger,
• Headlight beam deflectors, which will be necessary in countries where you will be driving on the right,
• First aid kit, which is compulsory in Austria, France and Germany.
There’s plenty of other bits of equipment that aren’t necessarily required but would be recommended for your safety and for your peace of mind. Some examples of these are:
• A fire extinguisher,
• Replacement bulbs for your vehicle lights,
• A torch and replacement batteries,
• A can of spare fuel (make sure that it's a legal container for the countries you're travelling to or through),
• Extra engine oil, and a breakdown kit,
• The latest road maps covering where you will be travelling,
• Food and drink that you can legally carry into the country you’re travelling to,
• Blankets in case it gets cold, sun cream and water if it's hot,
• Any medication you’ll need,
• Photocopies of important documents.
The above isn't an exhaustive list, but we've done a lot of travelling around the EU in our campers over the years and this is definitely a pretty solid starting point. If you want to know what to pack in a breakdown kit, check out our blog all about it: JK's Guide to Creating a Breakdown Kit for Your VW
Avoiding Toll Roads
Last but not least, a note on avoiding unexpected toll roads.
During your travels, you’ll more than likely come across toll roads, which you should try to avoid. Some of these may be unavoidable for time reasons but the costs can quickly add up so it’s worth diverting your drive if possible. Sat-Navs can often be set to avoid toll roads, so you should plan ahead and research the costs and alternatives routes around each toll road.
Have a Great Trip!
We hope you’ve found these tips useful, and that you now feel even more prepared (and excited) to head off on an adventure with your campervan across the EU and maybe even beyond!