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Old Gits European Motorcycle Tours
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Legal Requirements

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Advice here is given in good faith but responsibly for all legal matters are strictly that of the individual. Noguarantees are offered or implied and the Old Gits have no responsibility for the accuracy of the information. 

European laws.

Drinking and driving. The UK actually has some of the highest blood alcohol limits in Western Europe so, although beer & wine is cheep and readily available, the only answer to drink driving is, don't do it.

Speed limits

Speed limit information is available here http://www.drive-alive.co.uk/driving_tips.html

Remember that France has a different motorway speed limit when it's wet. (110kph rather than 130kph)

French town speed limits start at the sign with the town name on it and end at the sign with the town name crossed out.

Most European countries will issue on the spot fines. If you can't pay (cash only) they may confiscate your bike! Get a receipt. (If you don't have cash it has been known for local plod to escort you to the nearest cash point.)

You can get an instant on the spot ban in France, Switzerland and other countries, for excessive speed. (and it needn't even be that excessive!) While this does not impact your UK license, and doesn't stop you riding in other counties, it does mean you will not be able to ride your bike from where you were stopped to the country's border!

Be far enough over the speed limit and, in a number of European countries, your bike can be instantly confiscate, never to return!!!

Note that not all of German autobahns are de-restricted and they can be quite enthusiastic at enforcement on the restricted sections.

There is currently no ability for any of the European countries to put points on your license but they can levy substantial fines against you, even after you've come home. As our UK government is happy to sell the DVLA vehicle registration details to any and all who will pay, it is becoming more common for fines to arrive through the post after your trip away.


Filtering (lane splitting) is accepted in most European countries when traffic is stopped or moving slowly. In France it's illegal, however, most French bikers filter so we just "go with the flow"

Documents and equipment.

Make sure you have your passport, license, V5, and insurance certificate with you at all times. If you are stopped and don't have them, your bike can be confiscated. (See the Hints & Tips page for advice on how best to carry your documents.)

There is no requirement for motorcycles to carry a warning triangle (as there is with cars)

France, and we assume some other European countries, require motorcycles to carry a spare bulb kit.

There is requirement for motorcycles to carry a full high vis. jacket (as there is with cars) for French AutoRoute's. While you don't need to be wearing it while riding you do need to have it on if stopped at the side of the road, before you get off the bike. If not being worn then carry it at the top of the tank bag.

It's not compulsory, but carrying a small first aid kit is a good idea.

If you require prescription glasses then it is a legal requirement in Spain and France (possibly other countries as well) to have a spare pair with you. (We presume this also applies if you are wearing contact lenses.)

If you plan to visit the Nurburgring, do check your insurance small print. Most UK insurance will NOT cover you! This means that if you have an accident, you will have to pay, but also means that, as the 'Ring is a public road, you are breaking the law when riding without insurance!

Asymmetric headlights should be masked on the dip beam for use on the other side of the road. (We don't bother and have never had any problems but we avoid riding much at night.).

GB stickers should be shown. With bikes it's actually much easier to get a "Euro standard" number plate with the built in GB details on it. (You can get smaller than standard versions - strictly for show use only!!!)

Radar/laser detectors are illegal in many European countries and using one attracts some severe penalties.

France does not allow the use of sat. nav. based speed camera detectors/warnings, although highlighting "safety areas" is allowed! 

France requires that motorcyclists have reflective stickers on their helmet. The rules state "All helmets must have four reflective stickers: one on the front, one at the rear and one on each side. The surface of each sticker must be 18 cm2 and, within each sticker, you must be able to draw a 40 mm diameter circle, or a 12.50 cm2 rectangle with a minimum of 20 mm length". Some of the Old Gits don't bother and it's never been an issue.

English Translation of the French Highway Code may be found here.

Both France and Spain do not allow in-ear speakers under the helmet. Over ear speakers fitted to the helmet are OK.

In France, Gloves must be certified to a specific CE mark. (We don;t know the exact certification number).

Useful number.

You can dial 112 from any mobile phone in any country in Europe and it will connect you to the local emergency service.