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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.

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.

Many 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 for excessive speed. While this may not currently effect your UK license, it does mean you will not be able to ride your bike from where you were stopped to the French border!

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. 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 and the police on the “Peripherique” around Paris have been using some dirty tricks to catch bikers out. See here: http://ukfrancebikers.com/2011/03/18/traffic-filtering-in-france-police-dirty-tricks-lead-to-racket/

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 arequirement for motorcycles to carry a full high vis. jacket (as there is with cars) for French AutoRoute's and the French now insist that all motorcyclists wear some reflective material. It has to be no smaller than 150 sq cm or 10cm x 15cm and be visible.

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!

Helmets are compulsory in all European countries. That applies to pillion passengers as well.

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 newer "Euro standard" number plate with the built in GB details on it. (You can get smaller than standard versions - strictly for show use only!!!)

While not yet compulsory in all European countries, it is in some, including France and Germany, so leaving your headlight on all the time is a good way to help avoid attracting the attention of local plod.

From July 2012 it has been compulsory to carry a breathalyser kit in France. This applies to motorcycles as well as cars. However, while compulsary to carry one, there is no penalty for not carrying one!!! (Only in France!!!)

Radar/laser detectors are illegal in many European countries.

France does not allow the use of sat. nav. based speed camera detectors/warnings. Note though that 'le Plod' is not allowed to turn your sat. nav. on if it is switched off when they pull you over!

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!

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.