Getting there

By road

Driving licence

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.

Motor insurance

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.

Driving safely

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 EU countries.

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. eu/transport/road_safety/going_abroad/ index_en.htm

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 information.

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 your right.

By air

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 and surcharges.

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.

By rail

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.

By water

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.

Passenger rights

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 long delays.

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.

Air passengers

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

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 mobility

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 by coach).

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.

Seeking redress

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.

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Travelling in Europe 2014-2015

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