What do you need to bring with you if you’re driving abroad?
An International Driver’s License (of which we have NEVER been asked for), you need proof of car insurance, and proof of car registration (issued in Europe).
What do you need to be legal on the road?
Europeans take car care seriously. In the Netherlands, where we bought and registered Charlie, a 130+ point yearly car inspection called an APK is required order to be eligible for registration. Our mechanic at Dutch Campervans took Charlie in for the initial inspection, left with a short laundry list of repairs (we knew the back brakes needed replacing), came back to the shop to repair Charlie, returned to reinspect and came back with Charlie’s reregistration. While expensive (E1000/$1100), the APK insures running rigs are on the road.
Where do you find information about the driving laws of the country you’re in?
Usually as we approach a new border, our Navigator Tammy will open our Michelin Road Atlas of Europe to the section that covers driving regulations for that country. The differences between country laws are usually minor except for when you shift to driving on the opposite side of the road than you’re used to! Some specific regulations to be aware of are what safety gear you must carry (we actually bought an extra emergency vest after blowing a tire on the highway and realizing we needed more visibility in an emergency), what are the general speed zones (as they’re not always posted), and whether or not you must drive with your headlights on! Despite the laws, we found there is a culture of driving that differs in every country.
Have you had any legal troubles?
We were pulled over twice in Morocco, once for passing a farmer’s truck in a no-crossing zone which was conveniently only where the police were waiting, and another time for supposedly going over the speed limit (we’re pretty sure this one was a shake-down for backsheesh).
What about crossing borders?
When we arrive at a border, we have our paperwork (registration, green card insurance, passports) ready for the officials. Charlie had to go through a giant x-ray machine before getting on the ferry between Morocco and Spain, and has had minor checks at border points. The most we’ve ever been searched in addition to entering Africa, was a small border crossing between Turkey and Bulgaria where the border guards even looked under Charlie’s bed. We presume they were looking for refugees as they let our case of wine alone. You don’t even stop between Schengen country borders.