International long distance driving; Headlights, alcohol breath testkits, fire extinguishers and more.

Different countries have different rules when on the road.

  • Do headlights need to be on in daytime?
  • Do I need to carry two breathalyser test kits?
  • What international stickers do I need to put on the car?
  • Do I need to carry my car registration papers?
  • Do I need an international driving licence?
  • What personal medication can I carry?
  • What is the blood alcohol limit?
  • So if you are driving in a foreign country, spend some time on homework first. It is much easier to do this beforehand than wait until you are already on holiday or get pulled up by the local constabulary. There are hundreds of rules but some main ones are outlined below.

Vehicle identification sticker

If you are taking your own car into another country, you require a sticker on the back of your car with the initials designating the county of origin. This is available from your own motoring organization.



The 'AUS' stands for Australia.

The ‘AUS’ stands for Australia.


International driving license

No matter if you are renting a car or driving your own, it is wise to obtain an international driving license. This can be bought from your own motoring organization and you’ll need a passport size photograph of yourself. It lasts for one year. I’ve only once had to show it to police in several decades.This was in Germany  in 2013 where the constabulary  seemed bored and just wanted to view our vintage vehicle. However I’ve not been in an road accident so not needed to show identification. Car rental companies may  accept your own country’s driving license but do check this.

international driving permit


Headlights on in daytime.

The need to have headlights on at all times varies around the world. In Australia it is advisable to have them on in daytime. However this is mandatory  in the EU countries, Canada, Poland, Slovenia, Russia, Iceland, Norway, Israel and others. Do remember to turn them off when parked to prevent a flat battery.

In France you need special cutouts to stick on each headlight to modify the light beams. These can be bought on e-bay.

Headlight beam adaptors

Headlight beam adaptors


Breathalyser kits

In France it is compulsory to carry not one but two breathalyser kits. If you are stopped for a random breath test by police, you use your own kit. Hopefully you are below the limit and  waved on your way with still have one spare kit . But you will need to buy a second one in case the process is repeated.

Two breathalyser kits in one packet for own use but compulsory to keep in the car in France.

Two breathalyser kits in one packet for own use but compulsory to keep in the car in France.


Blood  alcohol limits.

For each country , check details on :

If in doubt about your own sobriety, don’t drive.

High visibility vests

If you need to stop at the side of the road and get out to walk around to check or fix something, some countries demand that you wear a high visibility vest. This will reduce the chances of you being run over which sadly does happen -sometimes when someone is assisting at a  road accident and passing vehicles  cannot  stop in time.

High visibility vest still in new packaging.

High visibility vest still in new packaging.


Red safety triangles

Again pop one of these in your boot and place behind your car if you need to stop  for any reason. They can be folded up for storage and simply expanded for use on the road in an emergency. Often they are reflective so are visible at night.

Emergency triangle which folds neatly when in storage.

Emergency triangle which folds neatly when in storage.


Fire extinguishers

It really is much safer to always carry a small fire extinguisher in the car. I suggest have it clasped to the floor under the driver’s seat for easy access. You don’t want to waste time trying to unlock the boot in an emergency. Even if you don’t use it for your own car, maybe you can use it and assist someone else. In my life I ‘ve seen three cars have fires; my own classic VW sedan when the battery, which was located under the rear passenger seat, ignited the horsehair under the back seat and filled the cabin with acrid thick black smoke. My brother’s Cadillac had an engine fire as did a friend’s vintage car which stopped in front of us at  a hotel’s entrance.  In all three incidents there was no handy  fire extinguisher.


Safe long distance driving to you all.



About Jeanne Eve

Jeanne Eve lives in Australia and enjoys long distance driving to new places combined with her love of travel, writing, eating and fun company. In former times, she was a speech pathologist so appreciates the desire for good health and effective communication. She is married and has two daughters and two step-sons.

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