A valid driving licence issued in an EU country is recognised
throughout the EU. Every new licence now being issued is in the
form of a plastic card with a standard European format. In some
countries, in addition to carrying a valid driving licence, you will
need to have your vehicle registration document with you.
Wherever you are travelling in the EU your car insurance policy
will automatically provide the minimum cover required by law
(third party liability). This also applies to Iceland, Liechtenstein
and Norway. If you have comprehensive insurance at home,
check that the cover extends to travelling in other countries and
for how long.
Your insurer can give you a European accident statement form,
a standard document that makes it easier to make a declaration
on the spot if you have an accident in another country.
A green card is not obligatory when travelling in the EU but it
serves as internationally recognised proof of insurance and
it makes it easier to settle claims arising from an accident. If
you do not take a green card with you, you should carry your
certificate of insurance.
The number of deaths in traffic accidents in the EU has fallen
by 43 % since 2001. This is the result of EU and national
improvements to vehicle safety, road designs and tunnels, and
road safety campaigns.
In all EU countries, seat belts must be worn in all vehicles fitted
with them. Children must have appropriate child restraints in
cars and lorries and, where possible, in other vehicles as well.
Using a mobile phone while driving greatly increases the risk of
an accident and it is either explicitly or implicitly forbidden in all
The maximum permitted blood alcohol level varies between
0 mg/ml and 0.8 mg/ml. Further information on road safety
rules in each EU country including speed limits,
mandatory use of daytime running lights and of
winter tyres, and safety equipment for motorists
and cyclists can be found at http://ec.europa.
Tracking down drivers who commit road safety-related traffic
offences abroad, such as speeding or drinking and driving, has
been made easier with improved cross-border exchange of
Remember to drive on the left side of the road in Ireland,
Cyprus, Malta and the United Kingdom and that in some
countries, such as Belgium, France, the Netherlands and
Portugal, you normally have to give way to traffic coming from
Creating a single European market in air transport has meant
lower fares and a far wider choice of carriers, routes and
services for passengers. The EU has made it possible for any
airline and its fleet that meets EU-wide safety standards to fly
to and from anywhere in the EU, even taking on domestic routes
in another country. Air travellers can easily compare prices
because published prices must include the fare, all taxes, fees
In order to ensure a high level of security throughout the
EU, common rules and standards on security controls of
passengers, hand luggage and checked luggage have been laid
down for all departing flights at EU airports. EU rules lay down a
list of items that are not allowed into the cabin of an aircraft and
items that are not allowed in checked baggage for carriage in
the hold of an aircraft. The restrictions on the amount of liquids
that can be carried as hand luggage through security points
remain for the time being. They will gradually be lifted once they
can be replaced by screening for liquid explosives.
The EU maintains a list of airlines banned from operating in the
EU and using EU airports.
The EU has over 213 000 km of railways with extensive
international passenger services. There are over 6 800 km of
high-speed lines in several countries connecting important
axes like Paris–London, Rome–Milan and Madrid–Barcelona
with trains reaching speeds of up to 350 km/h and the network
continues to grow.
There are many key sea routes between EU countries
offering regular, high-quality services as an alternative to,
or in combination with, road, air or rail. There are also over
42 000 km of navigable inland waterways. The EU has been at
the forefront of improving maritime safety and promoting highquality
standards with rules to protect passengers and crew
sailing on ferries or seagoing vessels to and from European
ports as well as on passenger ships sailing within the EU.
The EU is the only area in the world where passengers have a
comprehensive set of rights for all modes of transport: road,
air, rail and water. Passengers in the EU, including disabled
passengers and those with reduced mobility, enjoy the right to
accurate, timely and accessible information, assistance and, in
certain circumstances, compensation in case of cancellation or
Bus and coach passengers
All bus and coach passengers now have the right to receive
adequate information about the service and about their
passenger rights before and during their journey. Passengers on
international services travelling 250 km or more have additional
rights, such as assistance, reimbursement or re-routing in case
of delay and cancellation.
As an air passenger, you have the right to information,
reimbursement, re-routing, compensation (under certain
circumstances) and assistance if your flight is delayed, cancelled
or if you are denied boarding. These rights apply to passengers
on all flights departing from an EU airport and on flights arriving
in the EU operated by EU air carriers.
Air carriers are liable in the event of accidents or for lost,
damaged or mishandled luggage. Travellers also have certain
rights in relation to package holidays.
Rail passengers’ rights have been reinforced and improved by
EU legislation with better information and rights in the event of
delay, missed connections and cancellations on all international
rail services within the EU.
Sea and inland waterway passengers
Passengers travelling by sea or inland waterway now enjoy
rights including reimbursement, re-routing, compensation,
and assistance if faced with cancellations or delays, as well
as the right to adequate and easily-accessible information.
These rights apply, with some exceptions, to those travelling on
passenger services either departing from or arriving in a port
within the EU and on cruises where the port of embarkation is
in the EU.
Disabled passengers and those with reduced
Special rights are in place for disabled passengers and those
with reduced mobility. You are entitled to free assistance in
airports, train stations and ports and in designated coach
terminals, as well as on board aircraft, trains, ships and
coaches. Notify the carrier or terminal operator of specific
needs at the time of booking, when buying the ticket in advance,
or at least 48 hours before travelling (36 hours when travelling
If you are travelling by car and are entitled to use disabled
parking facilities in your home country, the EU standard model
of disabled parking card is recognised in all EU countries and
allows you to use the parking facilities available to the disabled
in other EU countries.
If you feel that your rights have not been respected while
travelling and you want to seek redress, first contact the carrier
or terminal operator. If they fail to fulfil their obligations then
you can contact the national enforcement body for your specific
mode of transport. Call the Europe Direct Freephone number
00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11 for more information and details of the
relevant enforcement body.