Driving in the UK – Tips and first timers guide

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Driving in the UK is slightly different compared to that of Europe and the rest of the world. If you have never driven in the UK before, you may find it a little unusual to what you are used to. To help you stay safe and to stay within the law, we have some simple tips on driving in the UK as a first timer. 

Could you just imagine, driving down an open road, with the wind in your hair, heading off to a beautiful UK destination? Nice huh. The UK really is beautiful and it could be stress free and easy, driving in the UK. 

If you’re a first-time driver to the UK, you may not be familiar with the road, rules of driving in the UK, which side do we drive in UK? And many more questions. We have been driving in the UK for well over 10 years and to help you, we share with you everything you need to know, before you set off for the open road and that beautiful sunset. 

Driving in the UK – Tips and first-timers guide 

First things first, before any long journey you must always check your vehicle has enough water, oil and that it is in good working condition. You really don’t want to breakdown in the middle of nowhere just because you don’t have water or oil in your vehicle.  

There’re also some rules for driving in the UK, which we will cover later, but you must make sure you follow these rules, to keep you safe.  

It will also be a good idea to ensure you have breakdown cover and car insurance. Make sure both have overseas cover.  

So, let’s get into more details on these all-important tips on driving in the UK, first timers guide.   

Checks to carry out on your vehicle 

To prevent breakdown, it is recommended to carry out some checks on your vehicle before you go.  

Make sure you check the water in your radiator, check the engine oil and window washer fluid.   

If you check these about a couple of weeks before you travel and top it up if required. Always check it about one week later to ensure there’s no leaks or issues. If you do identify any issues, these can be fixed before you travel.   

It would also be a good idea and practice that you check your vehicle regularly including the lights and indicators. Make sure these are working correctly. If these are not, then you can get it fixed and replaced before you travel. You will need to ask a friend, partner, family or neighbour to help you check these are correctly working.   

If of course you are hiring a vehicle, the vehicle should be in good working condition and the staff at the hire company should regularly make these checks on the vehicle. Having said this, it is still a good idea to check, you certainly don’t want to breakdown in the middle of nowhere. 

Driving in UK left or right side of the road? 

The main thing to remember when driving in the UK, is that they drive on the left and travel around the roundabout clockwise.  

We are the only country in Europe that drives on the left. If you are driving in the UK from USA, Europe or anywhere else in the world that drives on the right, you are likely to find it unusual to drive in the UK.  

At any junction or roundabout, you must always give way. On a roundabout, you must give way to the right. If you are established on the roundabout, you will have priority over vehicles looking to enter the roundabout.  

The highway code applies when driving in the UK. You should familiarise yourself with the laws and etiquettes before you start driving in the UK. Please click the following link to access the Highway Code for more information. 

If you can’t drive or don’t want to hire a vehicle, then you could use public transport to get you around the UK.

What do you need to carry in your vehicle when driving in the UK? 

There are a few requirements for driving in the UK, these are:   

Driving License  

You must hold a full and valid driving license. If you are driving in the UK on a foreign license, you will require an international driver permit.   

Can I drive in the UK with an EU license? 

Yes, EU license holders are permitted to drive in the UK, providing it is a full license.  

Want to apply for an international Drivers Permit? Check out our post.  

Car Insurance  

It is a legal requirement to have the minimum of third-party insurance cover on the vehicle. We have worked in the car insurance industry for many years and know the real benefits of having fully comprehensive cover. By having fully comprehensive cover, when travelling to the UK, you’ll have the benefit of getting your vehicle damages paid.  

Please note, all insurance companies have different terms and conditions on driving overseas and what you will be covered for. Always check the terms and conditions before you leave. 

Children travelling in the vehicle 

Young children aged 3 years or under, must be in an appropriate child car seat for their age and weight. Children between 3 and 11 year of age and under 135cm in height, must use the appropriate child car seat at all times.  


Ensure you have with you, your insurance documentation, green card and driving license with you when driving, this maybe requested by the third party if you are involved in an accident, or the police may request this to be produced.  

It is not compulsory to carry in your vehicle a warning triangle, first aid kit, fire extinguisher or a reflective jacket, but it would be recommended.   

What is the legal age to drive in the UK? 

The legal age to drive in the UK is 17 years old.  

You can apply for a provisional license at the age of 16, but can’t start driving lessons until 17.  


You could be driving to the UK from Europe, or anywhere in the world. So, with these helpful tips, we hope that you stay safe and enjoy the ride.  

Have you driven in the UK? How was your experience of driving? Are there any tips on driving in the UK that we didn’t cover, but you feel should be included? Let us know, with a comment below.   

Continue your UK travel planning, with these useful posts:

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Driving in the UK - Tips for first timers
Driving in the UK – Tips for first timers
Driving in the UK
Driving in the UK
Tips on driving in the UK for first timers
Tips on driving in the UK for first timers