Taking a WAV Abroad
An incredible part of having access to a vehicle that will accommodate a wheelchair is the freedom to go and travel practically wherever you like – and this includes exciting adventures abroad!
Travelling abroad while disabled can be daunting. Being disabled does give you certain exemptions and entitlements much like you would find here in the UK – such as a Blue Badge making you entitled to park in disabled parking bays – but there are certain rules and regulations from which you are not exempt.
It can seem a bit complicated and overwhelming, but we want you to feel confident to set off on an international adventure, so we’ve put together some information that should make things a bit easier. If you’re thinking of travelling to Europe (or beyond) with your WAV – here are some tips and FAQs so you can stay safe, have fun, and avoid fines…
Don’t forget your important documents
Obviously, you’ll need your passport to travel abroad but you’ll also need your driver’s licence, V5C (vehicle logbook), Blue Badge, prescriptions for any medication you have, proof of vehicle insurance, and proof of breakdown cover (see more below). You might even need a visa for travel, so check the rules of the country you’re travelling to.
You may need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to validate your driving licence in some countries, though most countries in Europe won’t require an IDP for short holidays.
Get insurance and breakdown cover that includes travel abroad
As well as travel insurance for yourself and your party, you’ll need a vehicle insurance policy that covers travel abroad. All UK vehicle insurance policies include cover for most countries in Europe, but you may need a green card from the insurer to prove you’re covered.
It’s also sensible to get breakdown cover for your trip – getting stranded could leave you particularly vulnerable as a disabled person. Countries will have their own rules about what to do if you break down, so include this information in your research.
Planning and preparation: hope for the best, prepare for the worst!
Plan an itinerary and know how you’re going to navigate your routes. Prepare for toll roads by taking some local currency coins to pay for them. To drive on toll roads in Austria, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Slovenia, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic you’ll need to buy and display a special vignette (window sticker) which you can usually purchase at border crossings.
Stock your vehicle with anything you might need in an emergency. Keep your phone battery charged (and check with your network provider whether you’ll get data abroad). If you don’t speak the local language, translate any key phrases that you think could be useful and write them down.
Check your oil and your tyres, including your tread depth and pressure. Perhaps even consider getting your vehicle serviced to ensure it’s in the best condition for your trip. Check the weather forecast and take care when driving in particularly heavy rain or during the winter (note that some countries will legally require winter tyres).
Here are our Top 10 WAV Travel Tips, most of which still apply when travelling abroad.
Brush up on country-specific road laws
Speed limits, alcohol limits, road signs… driving rules are often different from country to country. Interestingly, the UK (excluding Scotland) has the most lenient blood alcohol limit in Europe!
Learning the laws and regulations for driving abroad before you travel is so important to avoid fines or even arrest – something that could really spoil your trip (and put people in danger)! The RAC have advice for driving in every country in Europe which will give you a summary of the main things to note when you drive abroad, such as primary differences in driving rules.
Here are some common driving laws in Europe:
- All European countries drive on the right-hand side (other than the UK, Ireland, Cyprus, and Malta).
- You must have UK to Europe headlamp converters for driving on the right-hand side.
- You must have a reflective jacket for everyone in the vehicle and a warning triangle.
- In Germany, France, and Austria – you must have a first aid kid.
- You have to have a UK sticker on your vehicle (see below).
Get a UK sticker for your vehicle – GB stickers are now invalid
The GB sticker, as previously required, is now defunct. As of September 2021, you must have a sticker saying ‘UK’ on your WAV to drive in most countries in Europe (and many outside Europe). These stickers are inexpensive, can be bought online or from garages, and should be clearly displayed on the rear of your WAV. You may be fined on the spot if you don’t have one.
If your licence plate has a UK identifier to the left of your registration number, you won’t need an additional sticker – unless you’re travelling to Spain, Cyprus, or Malta, where you’ll need a UK sticker regardless. If your licence plate has any other an identifier – such as a GB, English, Scottish, or Welsh identifier – you don’t need to cover them up, but you will still need to purchase a UK sticker. Note: You won’t need one in Ireland.
Speaking of stickers… Travelling to France? Order an air quality sticker!
To legally drive in large areas of several French cities, including Paris, you’ll need a Crit’Air sticker (Air Quality Certificate). The stickers are inexpensive and help you avoid a costly fine. The Crit’Air scheme classifies vehicles according to their emissions to help reduce pollution.
The rules regarding temporary and permanent low-emission zones in French cities are a little complex, so we suggest doing more research before you travel to avoid any fines. Unlike similar emissions stickers in Germany, where displaying your Blue Badge on the dashboard makes you exempt, your disability will not make you exempt in France.
To order your sticker, you’ll need to know your vehicle classification type and Euro emissions standard status (or date of vehicle registration) – enter your vehicle registration number here to find this information. Order your sticker in good time so it can arrive before you’re due to travel; ensure you order a sticker for a ‘vehicle registered abroad’ and clearly display the sticker in your windscreen.
Motability Scheme: Can I take my Motability car abroad?
Many people wonder if they can travel overseas with their Motability car or WAV and the answer is… yes!
Even though the UK has left the European Union, you can still take your Motability Vehicle to any country within the EU as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. If you want to take your Motability vehicle elsewhere, contact Motability for more information.
Overseas travel with a Motability car or WAV will involve getting a VE103 certificate to show you have permission to take the vehicle out of the country. You’ll also need to request RAC European Breakdown Cover to avoid paying for vehicle recovery if you breakdown (Motability only covers UK breakdown as standard).
To order your VE103 certificate and request breakdown cover for your holiday, call the RAC – 0800 731 3310.
Want to lease a WAV using your mobility allowance? Find out more about the Motability Scheme.
Rent a WAV: Can I hire a WAV for my holiday?
Hiring a WAV is a great solution if you only need a WAV for a certain amount of time or if you’d like to try one out. This can make them really useful if you’re going on holiday.
There are lots of WAV-hire services available, and they’ll all have their own unique travel policies. Please check with the company you hire your WAV from whether they’ll allow you to take the vehicle out of the country before going abroad to make sure your policy covers this kind of travel.
Cartwright Mobility: More about us
At Cartwright Mobility, we specialise in wheelchair accessible vehicles with bespoke adaptations. We sell our WAVs privately and lease them through the Motability Scheme, so we’ll be able to find something to suit your budget. If you’d like any more information or advice, please contact us to chat to someone from our friendly team.
It’s important to check travel laws yourself before a trip abroad to ensure you have the most up to date information.
Visit the GOV.UK website for the latest info on travelling abroad as a disabled person
Visit the GOV.UK website for the latest country-specific travel advice
Visit the GOV.UK website for the latest advice on driving abroad
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