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The Importance of Having an EU Driving Licence

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 25 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Driving Licence Uk Eu France Spain Italy

When you decide to work abroad, you will quickly realise the papers, gadgets and phases that help you get by when you’re away from home.

So while a universal solar charger and ‘une baguette, sil vous plait’ may help in some circumstances, they’re not going to help you get the local police off your back, unless they happen to have a flat phone battery or are having a picnic.

An EU driving licence, however, can help you out of many situations, assuming, of course, that you are not doing anything dodgy. The beauty of its flexibility lies in the photo card, so even if you do not intend to drive on your working trip overseas, you really must take your EU driving licence as a form of identity.

Different Countries, Different ID

Remember that all countries have their own forms of ID, so if you’re asked for it – and you probably will be at some point – and all you’ve got to hand over is your credit card or cycling proficiency certificate, then don’t be surprised when the local gendarme turns his nose up.

Of course, you’re probably thinking, ‘you Wally, I’d just show him my passport’, but you’re forgetting that many hotels keep your passports for the duration of a working trip, or indeed it may be filled away safely in your apartment, or with the HR department perhaps. No one asks for your driving licence and it’s a handy credit card size, so you’re more likely to have it about your person, stashed in your wallet.

The photo and the EU flag is what help the ‘seriousness’ of this piece of ID. Even if you’re in some remote part of Croatia or a little fishing village in Italy, the card, with your picture, laminated and an official flag, not to mention a signature and address, is usually respected.

When you’re away from the UK, you may be surprised just how often you are asked for ID. In France, for example, you’re regularly asked for extra ID in supermarkets, especially if you’re paying by cheque but often even if you’re paying by debit card. In Spain, a policeman can simply stop you and ask for ID. It’s all too easy to be horrified and see it as some sort of personal liberty, but if you’re in another country you need to respect their rules.

Long Term Advice

Indeed, if you’re working abroad for any length of time, you may decide to rent your own apartment, hire a car or need to go to the doctors. Even if you have all the relevant paperwork you’d need in the UK, you’d be surprised how much more information the official bodies require, so you may as well have it all with you from the start.

In addition to the driving licence, it’s worth having copies of your marriage certificate (if applicable), birth certificates for yourself and your children, copies of your insurance documents and copies of the inserts from any medication that you take. This also means that you’re carrying around some pretty important documents, so guard them with your life and keep them safe.

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