Driving abroad: RAC's tips for driving in Europe
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Following numerous driving law changes in the UK in 2021, with more freedoms in the new year, drivers will be able to return to Europe for a long road trip or a short weekend getaway. Broader changes have been made because of Brexit regulations, whilst individual countries have also made alterations to their laws affecting drivers from the UK.
Driving licence use in Italy and Spain
The British Embassy in Rome confirmed on Christmas Eve: “While discussions on agreement continue, Italy has confirmed valid UK licences issued before January 1, 2021, can be used until December 31, 2022.”
Since Britain left the EU at the end of 2020, UK licence holders living in the country were granted a 12-month grace period in which they could continue to use their British licence in Italy, which had been due to end on December 31, 2021.
The UK ambassador to Spain said he had requested another extension to the validity of UK licences in Spain past the looming December 31 deadline, adding that “negotiations are progressing” regarding a licence exchange deal. This has since been extemded to Feburary 28, 2022.
Operation licences for van drivers
Van drivers will be required to get new international operating licences if they want to travel back and forth to the EU from May 2022.
According to the Government website, anyone driving a van, a light commercial vehicle or any car towing a trailer will be required to have a “goods vehicle operator licence” to enter the EU, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein or Switzerland from May.
The licence will cost van drivers up to £1,100, a price which many industry leaders have slammed, especially for the impact it will have on solo operators.
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By the end of 2022, drivers will have to buy a £6 visa-waiver for holidays and short stays.
UK nationals won’t need a visa for short trips – up to 90 days in any 180-day period – to mainland Europe if they’re just going on holiday, but they will have to fork out for a visa-waiver.
Travellers wanting to enter the border-free Schengen area will need to fill out an online form and checks will be made automatically, unless an issue is flagged.
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