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Taking your car on holiday can be a tricky business, especially if you're travelling to a country you've never visited before. While many people hire a car when they are abroad, others that find it difficult as the seating, steering wheel and gear box is on the opposite side and it takes time to get used to the new dimensions of the car. For these reasons, many customers prefer to take their own car abroad.

If you're thinking of travelling abroad this summer and want to take your lease car with you, it’s important that you have the correct documentation in place before you travel. To help make things easier, Nationwide Vehicle Contracts has put together a five-point checklist to help prepare you for travelling to continental Europe in a lease vehicle.

1. Contact your Finance Provider

Before you leave for your trip, you will need to contact your finance provider to obtain the relevant permissions to take the vehicle abroad for a specified time. The key for a successful trip is preparation so to avoid any unexpected fines or issues whilst you're abroad, it is vital that you speak to your finance provider direct to discuss your options and to arrange for the appropriate paperwork to be sent in advance of your trip. Failure to obtain the correct permissions could result in delays on departure or, in the worst case, could even see the car impounded.

You can find out the contact details for your finance provider by logging into the Customer Account area.

2. Ensure you have the right paperwork

If you want to take your car in another country, alongside your full, valid UK driving licence, you will need to fill in a Vehicle-on-Hire-Certificate (VE103B) form. This is a legal document which acts as an alternative to the V5C log book and gives authorisation from the finance provider (the owner and keeper of the vehicle) for the driver (you) to take the lease or hire car abroad. The VE103B contains the details of the vehicle such as registration number, make and model and etc. The form will also confirm the name and address of the person leasing the vehicle as well as the length of the contract.

3. Check your breakdown and motor insurance

Whether here in the UK or travelling abroad, it is your responsibility as the contract holder to ensure that your vehicle is insured. If you are planning on taking the car abroad, it is important that your breakdown and motor insurance covers you for driving on the continent. Some insurers downgrade the level of protection for European cover to the most basic level so before you set off, check what insurance cover you have and determine whether you need to add to it. Drivers of salary sacrifice or company cars should also check their company policies before travelling to ensure they fully understand any limitations of the cover.

Don’t forget to check with your insurer as to whether you need a green card. A green card is a certificate that acts as proof of insurance in Europe and could help when making a claim abroad. In most countries this isn’t required any more, but if it is, you’ll need to take this with you along with your insurance documents.

4. Familiarise yourself with local driving laws

A couple of weeks before you leave, take the time to familiarise yourself with the local driving laws, such as speed limits, road signs and road markings. Many countries have specific laws in place which require the driver to carry additional equipment in the vehicle so make sure you’re fully aware of what you need to take before to leave. These include:

  • GB sticker: Make sure your GB sticker is clearly visible on the back of your car if your number plate doesn’t already include it. The GB letters must be black on a white, elliptical background and must be at least 80mm high with a stroke width of 10mm.
  • CRIT’Air clean air emissions sticker: Paris, Lyon and Grenoble legally require all vehicles to display a ‘clean air’ sticker on the windscreen to identify its emissions levels.
  • Vehicle safety kit: Many countries in Europe require by law that you carry a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, warning triangle, reflective jacket, headlamp beam reflectors and spare bulbs.
  • Breathalyser kit: All drivers heading to France will need to carry a personal breathalyser kit with two disposable testing units.
  • Children-friendly seat belts: Families travelling to France should be aware that children under the age of 10 are not permitted to travel on the front seats of vehicles without a special child restraint.
  • Snow chains and/or winter tyres: During winter months, many countries require the vehicle to be fitted with winter tyres or for the vehicle to carry snow chains.

The AA has a handy document which offers country-specific advice about the compulsory equipment requirements, as well as information on local laws.

5. Prepare your vehicle for a trip

Finally, as you should with any long trip, it is important to check that your car is in good condition before you set off. A simple way to do this is to carry out a POWER check:

  • Petrol (or diesel) - Make sure you have enough fuel to get to your destination and that you know where the next fuel station is.
  • Oil – Be sure to check the oil levels before you leave.
  • Water – Make sure the water levels are OK before you leave and don’t forget to top up the windscreen washer fluid too.
  • Electrical – Ensure all lights are working and are not dim. Don’t forget to check if you need to take a full set of replacement bulbs if this is required in the country you are travelling to.
  • Rubber - Check the condition of your tyres, the tread depth and that they are inflated to the correct pressure for the car weight with passengers and load.

Check out our Car Maintenance guides for more helpful advice and information.

Still have a question about taking your lease car abroad? Contact the Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Customer Services team on 0345 811 9595 (option 3).


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