We frequently receive questions from people in the US wanting information on the use of MotorHomes while on vacation in Europe as well as Europeans wanting to know the rules and regulations of MotorHome use in their own countries. Claire McEvoy of the UK was kind enough to provide us with the following info on MotorHome regulations in Europe:
If you’re thinking of traveling further afield in your MotorHome, you might be considering Europe as your holiday destination.
There are some beautiful countries in Europe, and lots of new places to explore. Visiting these places in a MotorHome can give you real freedom to fully experience everything Europe has to offer.
You may be a seasoned MotorHome traveler in your own country, but going further afield means you may have to do a little more research. Laws and regulations can vary hugely abroad, and this also applies to the operation of motorhomes and other touring vehicles.
Below we have provided some guidance to help you stay within the law on your travels abroad.
Know which side of the road to drive on: it may seem obvious, but if you are taking a trip around a few countries in Europe its worth being fully aware of which side of the road each country drives on, as they are not all the same.
At present, there are four countries that drive on the left: the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus & Malta. All other European countries drive on the right.
Speed Limits: The speed limits in different countries in Europe can vary widely, and are often based on the weight of the vehicle. You should be able to find more information about the exact speeds for each country on their national information website, or ask a local when you arrive at our destination.
In the majority of towns and villages the speed limit will be 50kph or 30mph. In some areas, particularly close to schools, or in areas with lots of pedestrians the limit can drop to 30kph/20mph. Any change in speed limits will usually be signposted.
Satellite Navigation Systems: In France, Germany & Switzerland, it is illegal to use navigation systems that alert the driver to oncoming speed cameras, and in almost all European countries it is illegal to use any navigation system that actively searches for speed cameras or that have the potential to interfere with police radios.
Green Card: For any countries outside the EU, make sure your insurance provides you with a green card. A Green card is a document which proves that your insurance covers the minimum cover in the country that you are driving in. This document can be very handy to have if you are ever pulled over by local police.
Winter Kit: In many countries in Europe it is required by law for any vehicle to carry certain tools, and have specialist equipment on their car to ensure they are prepared for extreme winter weather.
Winter tires are either compulsory all year round, or during the winter months in Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Sweden & Switzerland.
In many of these countries, motorists can incur fines if they are not equipped with winter tires, and the winter tires often need to have a minimum tread depth to make them road worthy in the eyes of the law.
Carrying snow chains is a legal requirement or recommended in some countries where the weather can be more extreme. Snow chains are often better suited to motorhomes than winter tires because of the heavier loads of motorhomes. In Austria, Croatia, France, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia, Spain & Switzerland it is either a legal requirement, or a recommendation to carry snow chains in the vehicle.
The international sign for snow chains or winter tires is a blue sign with a chained wheel in the centre as shown below. Where this sign is displayed it is illegal to proceed without snow chains or winter tires fit to the vehicle.
In countries with extreme weather, it’s also recommended that you carry a snow shovel, just in case you should become stuck in the heavy snow.
Carriage of Bicycles: Carriage of bikes on motorhomes is legal in Europe, providing that they do not obscure registration numbers, lights or indicators.
In Portugal, bikes can be carried on the rear of a MotorHome or caravan, but they must not extend beyond 45meters/49 yards past the length of the MotorHome
In Italy & Spain, any loads that extend beyond the vehicle must be indicated by a square panel with reflective red and white stripes.
Headlights: In some countries in Europe it is compulsory to use your headlights at all times. This includes Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden. In most European countries there is a requirement for headlight convertors, or dipped headlights so that you avoid dazzling oncoming traffic.
First Aid Kit: First aid kits are required by law to be carried in several countries in Europe. Currently the countries are Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, and Hungary.
Country specific laws
In France it is a legal requirement to carry a NF approve breathalyser. The breathalyser must be unused and in date. There is currently no fine for not having this tem on you, but a fine may be implemented in the future
In France pedestrians have a right of way over vehicles when crossing a road. Pedestrians need to “show a clear intention to cross” described as “an ostensible step forward or a hand gesture” The only exception to this rule is where there is a pedestrian crossing less than 50m away. Drivers who ignore this rule and do not stop for pedestrians waiting to cross the road can receive a fine of up to €135.00.
Any vehicle over 12 meters or 13 yards in length is required to have signs fitted onto the vehicle indicating the longer length. The signs must be plain yellow in the centre with a red outline, and they must be made of aluminium.
In Austria, it is now compulsory to have emergency corridors on all duel carriageways and motorways when there is congestion. This emergency corridor is created by drivers in the left hand lane moving as far to the left as they can, and drivers in the right hand lane side moving as far to the right as they can. This leaves a clear path down the middle of the road in case any emergency services should need access. Slovenia and the Czech Republic have also recently adopted this system.
It’s important to check the local laws and regulations just before any trip you take to Europe as laws frequently change and you, as the vehicle owner will be responsible for any fines or prosecutions for falling outside of the law.
The laws in all of these countries have been implemented to protect you, as well as the other users of the road, so sticking to these will not only avoid any run ins with the local police, they will help to keep you safe and to make sure you are well prepared for a great holiday abroad.
Claire is a motorhome enthusiast from the UK and writes for UK motorhome repair shop JC Leisure