What is Europe by car?
Europe by car is a combination of two sea crossings and a leisurely drive through Britain in between. The simple idea of selling a single fare for a Car plus Driver and then additional passengers where the single fare is a combination of two sea crossings one on the Irish Sea and then another on a sea crossing from Britain to France, Holland, Denmark and Spain.
You can mix and match your travel with different carriers. Sail out from Dover to Calais with SeaFrance and return via Cherbourg–Portsmouth with Brittany Ferries, or other routes allowing you to travel on different vessels and explore even more of Europe!
Are Motorway Tolls payable in Britain?
Yes, the two that are used frequently are:
- Severn Bridge linking Wales to England (Fishguard - Rosslare route).
- M6 Motorway around Birmingham, the East Midlands (Holyhead - Dublin Port route).
Are there tolls on French Autoroutes?
Yes, all Autoroutes (except for short sections through some cities) are toll roads (’Peage‘): take a ticket when you enter, pay when you exit (cash or Mastercard/Visa card).
The rate of toll varies and depends on how old (cheaper) or how new (dearer) the Autoroute is.
Are there any legal requirements for cars to drive around Europe?
Vehicles travelling in Europe are legally required to have certain breakdown and emergency equipment stored in the vehicle.
The list consists of:
- National Driving Licence
- Vehicle Registration Document (Log book or vehicle certificate)
- Motor Vehicle Insurance
- Warning Triangle
- Reflectorised jacket/waist coat
- Spare headlamp bulbs required
- Headlamp adjustment or deflectors required
- Seat belts required front and rear for all passengers
- Minimum age for children in the front seat is 12 years
- Letter of Authority: If yours is not the name on the logbook (i.e. Company car) bring a letter from your Company Secretary or the owner authorising you to drive the car
- Carrying a First Aid kit, fire extinguisher and spare set of bulbs is wise but not compulsory in all countries
Can I take my pet on holidays to Mainland Europe by Car?
Yes, Pets are part of the family and are treated just the same as we would treat any other passenger. Since the introduction of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), it is much easier to travel with your pet.
Make sure that you advise us at the time of booking that you are travelling with a pet. Under (PETS) you will need your:
Pet’s identifying microchip
Documents to prove that your pet has all the necessary vaccinations (eg, rabies, tick & worm treatment).
Tip : Most Ferry Terminals have exercise areas for your pet to ensure it is comfortable before boarding your ferry.
Do I need a Passport to travel to Europe?
Yes, a passport is required for all passengers (including children and infants), valid beyond the date of return for all trips to Mainland Europe.
You will not be permitted to travel on our routes to Mainland Europe (including our Harwich-Hook of Holland and Rosslare-Cherbourg routes) without a valid passport.
Do you have useful information links?
Yes, for location advice for France, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Germany and Holland, please click on the respective one that suits you below:
For visa requirements and information, please visit https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/
Driving in Europe: Speed limits
The speed limit on motorways is generally 110, 120 or 130 km/h and the limit in built-up areas is 50 or 60 km/h. Keep an eye on the signs to make sure of the exact limits and any special conditions that apply.
Below is a table giving general maximum speed limits for cars. In some countries limits are reduced in bad weather conditions or for newly qualified drivers.
How many Passengers/Children in the Car?
It is an offence to carry more passengers in a vehicle than it is constructed to seat. Many countries do not permit children to travel as frontseat passengers, or only allow them to do so when using a restraint system appropriate to age and/or height.
NEVER use a rear–facing child restraint system in a front seat where the vehicle is fitted with a passenger airbag.
How to get directions when planning your route?
For the latest information and directions, please click on: www.aaireland.ie or www.rac.co.uk, select the travel section, then select route planner, choosing Europe, fill in the relevant information and both sites will give you the directions, mileage, driving time with the road numbers.
Is Personal Travel Insurance needed?
We strongly recommend that all passengers travelling to the continent are in possession of a valid European Health Insurance card.
Personal travel insurance is an optional extra and gives you peace of mind, knowing that you are covered in the event of something happening.
Is there a wide availability of unleaded petrol?
Yes, unleaded petrol is available at petrol stations across Europe and varies in price from country to country.
Is there wide acceptance of credit cards for petrol?
Yes, payment for fuel at petrol stations across Europe can be made using most major credit cards.
Motoring fines on the continent?
- Some countries impose on-the-spot fines for minor traffic offences.
- Fines are paid in the currency of the country concerned to the police or local post office against a ticket issued.
- A receipt should be obtained as proof of payment.
- If you drink, don’t drive, the laws are strict and the penalties severe.
- Credit Cards are not accepted as a payment method.
- Paris, Lyon and Grenoble have introduced the ‘Crit’Air’ scheme, which is designed to curb pollution and requires most vehicles driving within designated ‘environmental zones’ to display a window sticker. The stickers cost €4.80 including postage, and there are six categories of sticker, which are colour-coded according to how much vehicles pollute. If you are caught driving without one in an environmental zone, you can be hit by an on-the-spot fine of €68. The certificates can be purchased online.
Should I plan my journey?
It is advisable to plan your journey in advance and some tips are:
- Firstly, have you car checked that the basic essentials are working properly. Stena Line is offering you a FREE 5 point safety check for your car to help you have a safe and enjoyable motoring break. This facility is in association with Advance Pitstop and supported by the Road Safety Authority.
- Note the route with the different motorway numbers i.e. A55/M56/M6/M20, this will give you the basic information that you know you are driving in the right direction to your port of departure.
- For directions to your Stena Line port of departure, please view the routes and timtables, and select your port of departure which will have the Sat Nav co-ordinates.
What about refueling?
Service areas are infrequent (about every 50km) they are large with every imaginable service. Mastercard/Visa are accepted. All day, every day, even on bank holidays such as Christmas and New Year.
By law, Motorway Services areas have to offer food, parking and toilets 24 hours a day, with no closures at all.
Will there be traffic jams?
- The M25 (London Orbital) is frequently slow on its southern sector.
- The M40 to London via Birmingham – Oxford has taken some of the pressure off the M1 between Birmingham and London.
What do I need for my car when travelling abroad?
Always carry your national driving licence, the original vehicle registration document and your passport.
Advise your motor insurer or broker of your intentions before taking a vehicle abroad.
It is most important to know the level of cover you will actually have and what documents you will need to prove it.
What compulsory items are needed when driving in France?
The following items are compulsory to have in your car under French law:
- Original registration documentation
- Reflective jacket/waistcoat
- Warning triangle
- Headlamp adjustment kit*
It is also recommended that daytime headlights/passing lights are used when driving.
*The legal requirement is to not dazzle oncoming drivers rather than specifically adjust/convert the headlamp beam pattern. Without adjustment, the dipped beam will dazzle oncoming drivers and this could result in a fine. Headlamp beam converter kits are widely available but may not be suitable for all types of headlights. On some cars, it is inadvisable or impossible for anyone other than a qualified technician to change a headlamp bulb unit eg high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps and carrying spares is not an option. However, it is recommended that spare bulbs are carried for any lights that may be easily and/or safely replaced but the owner/driver.
How long before the departure time should I check-in?
Vehicles should check-in at least:
- 45 minutes for Superferry sailings
Anyone arriving at check in after the above times may be refused permission to embark. Please note that passengers with special needs at least 60 minutes before your scheduled departure.
North Sea route
On our North Sea Superferries from Harwich-Hook of Holland, passengers should check in no later than 45 minutes prior to departure time.