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Old August 2nd, 2011, 05:25 PM   #1
Penn's Woods
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Vehicle requirements for traveling to other countries

Seeing all those American cars roaming around Europe on (one of) the license-plate thread(s) provokes me to ask a question: if an American takes his own car to Europe, what sort of things does he need to do for it to be legal there. I'm thinking of British people adjusting headlights as they cross the Channel....

For me personally, this is a completely hypothetical question unless I win the lottery, but still I'm curious....
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Old August 2nd, 2011, 05:45 PM   #2
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British, Irish, Maltese, Cypriot (and other places people who import cars) are meant to put some black tape thingy before going to the continent for the lights to go the other way but few bother.

Spain requires cars to have spare light bulbs but the Portuguese ignore that, I don't think that most Portuguese people know that anyway.

Most people with cars which don't have a euroband don't bother with an oval either
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Old August 2nd, 2011, 05:50 PM   #3
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Warning triangle is compulsory equipment in some countries and I think Switzerland requires snow chains!

I wonder how many people actually bother with this stuff?
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Old August 2nd, 2011, 05:51 PM   #4
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Warning triangles come with most cars anyway, and thats one thing you really need if going to the continent
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Old August 2nd, 2011, 05:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonesy55 View Post
Warning triangle is compulsory equipment in some countries and I think Switzerland requires snow chains!

I wonder how many people actually bother with this stuff?
Signal flares or warning triangles oughta be compulsory everywhere. Believe me, if you're stuck on the side of a highway broken down, you're gonna want something highly visible to try to let people know you're there so they can avoid hitting you. Flares are harder to find these days than they used to be so I've got a pair of reflective folding triangles in my trunk (which, unlike flares, are reusable.)

I don't think chains oughta be necessary though, it's more a matter of common sense - Is it winter and does it snow where I'm going? If the answer to BOTH those questions is yes, then you should bring chains, but if either of them is no, then it's really a waste. And no, I don't have snow chains.

I'm curious though about things that are required to be built into the car itself, rather than simply kept inside. Headlights have been mentioned already, but what about the rear fog lights and rear amber turn signals that are permitted in the States, but required in Europe? My car doesn't have rear fog lights, and it's got red rear turn signals but they're separate lights from the brake lights and some earlier models of my car had the exact same shape of taillights but with amber turn signals so I guess if I needed to I could swap them out. Same deal with the tiny turn signal light on the front fender - all European cars have them, most American ones (like mine) don't.

Last edited by nerdly_dood; August 2nd, 2011 at 06:05 PM.
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Old August 2nd, 2011, 06:00 PM   #6
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In the UK you are advised not to put out a triangle if you're in a hard shoulder on a motorway, in case you get hit
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Old August 2nd, 2011, 06:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nerdly_dood View Post
I don't think chains oughta be necessary though, it's more a matter of common sense - Is it winter and does it snow where I'm going? If the answer to BOTH those questions is yes, then you should bring chains, but if either of them is no, then it's really a waste.
So if it snows in spring, you don't need chains?
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Old August 2nd, 2011, 06:59 PM   #8
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One thing is taking your car to Europe with US plates, a totally different story is trying to get your car European registration plates. Which one do you mean?


BTW, snow chains are only necessary in mountainous areas. We have snow in Estonia for 2-4 months every winter and nobody uses snow chains.
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Old August 2nd, 2011, 07:03 PM   #9
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I've never seen cars driving in snow chains in the snow. I wouldn't even know how to put snow chains on. Do you have to put a jack under the car and lift it up and put the chains on and like tie them up behind the wheel, wouldn't you need long arms for that though.
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Old August 2nd, 2011, 09:10 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nerdly_dood View Post
I'm curious though about things that are required to be built into the car itself, rather than simply kept inside. Headlights have been mentioned already, but what about the rear fog lights and rear amber turn signals that are permitted in the States, but required in Europe? My car doesn't have rear fog lights, and it's got red rear turn signals but they're separate lights from the brake lights and some earlier models of my car had the exact same shape of taillights but with amber turn signals so I guess if I needed to I could swap them out. Same deal with the tiny turn signal light on the front fender - all European cars have them, most American ones (like mine) don't.
It is true that in European countries red turn lights are not allowed; however, AFAIK this regulation is enforced only when you want to permanently register your car there. If you are a millionaire and ship your car to Europe to drive on your vacation, you do not have to do any modifications

A lot of Russians like to import used cars from the USA, and I remember there was a furore on a Russian Ford Focus forum some years ago because the Russian government passed the law that completely prohibited red turn lights. As you know, all American Ford Foci had red turn lights (up until this year, I think) and most of the models had the turn light combined with the brake light. Thus, people found themselves in limbo. At that time, I just happened to convert my Focus' red turn lights into amber turn lights by doing rather complicated rewiring and swapping tail lights for UK ones (same shape but different colours). I found a Welsh chap who wanted US tail lights, so we just sent each other's lights by mail. I then posted a detailed step-by-step procedure on how to do the rewiring process, and made a lot of Russian people happy Some people thought I was a weird guy for doing this work on the US-made Ford Focus inside the USA I also drilled holes in the wings (aka fenders for Americans) to put turn light repeaters. Now, I may very well be driving the only 2000-2009 Ford Focus series with amber tail lights in the good old USA.

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Old August 3rd, 2011, 12:50 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Penn's Woods View Post
Seeing all those American cars roaming around Europe on (one of) the license-plate thread(s) provokes me to ask a question: if an American takes his own car to Europe, what sort of things does he need to do for it to be legal there. I'm thinking of British people adjusting headlights as they cross the Channel....

For me personally, this is a completely hypothetical question unless I win the lottery, but still I'm curious....

I write several examples that could make a little more clear the situation (at least in Spain, but maybe can be considered for all countries):

1- One friend who works on a Ford dealer told me the following case.
At Spain whey you buy a car you have only to give a lot of documentations, papers, etc... in the administration to change the name of owner but not the car.
If a Spanish citizen (not only Spanish people but any foreing person with legal residence in Spain) is going to buy a foreing car he will have to make the same tramits and ask for a new plate with a Spanish number.
Cars must have a periodic check (and if any trouble in the car... it can be declared not able to be driven and must be taken with breakdown van) when 4 years old, and later every two years (or every year after 10 years old).

One North American person sold a car very cheap when he was at Spain. It was an American car that had traveled to Europe. It was three years old and any one could check it was OK and that person was going to come back his country and preferred to sell the car instead of paying a trip for it in a ferry.

Another person buys that car with 3 years old. He makes all papers and he becames his owner legally. No problem in this part. The car has now a Spanish car plate.

One year after the car is four years old and has to pass the first check. He goes and in the first part... it is stopped.
Reason????. Side flash intermitten lights were white!!!!!!!!!!!!! and in Spain they must be yellow. And... exactly (I remember when driving licence exam) they must flash between 30 to 60 times per minute... but in yellow... not in white!.

The car was not allowed to drive and was blocked. It was a Ford car and this person went to a Ford dealer to ask for yellow lights.
This is when my friend got notice of the case.
They started to find the parts... in the Spanish loose parts warehouse, later in all European Ford warehouses and finally in American warehouses.

After one month:
- There was no parts in yellow for that car
- European warehouses had yellow lights but hadn't the adecuate dimmesions for that car
- American warehouses had full of lights... but all of them white.

The customer had the car blocked for a long time and the only he can do was asking a factory that makes those parts a specific one (It seems very expensive).

I do not know anything more about that car. My friend just said there was nothing built in the world he could buy and they cannot help him.



2- In my city there is an army base that it is part of the NATO treaty. This is... all NATO countries can land their planes there and use as an own base.
It was very, very, very used in the Gulf war in 1991. I had one militar friend who worked there and show me the installations and was who reported me some operations done (as this one of 1991).
In fact it is an Spanish aerial army base but allows all NATO countries.
In fact too... I think only US force has use it... but for a time (Cold was, Gulf war, etc...) there was a full little American village inside the army base.

It was very strange because, for example, all buildings where made with the typical American residential architecture... even the police station. Spanish police station has a very different architecture... Inside of the base, the Spanish police had a station and it was very strange to see an American building with the logo of the Spanish police.

This little town made a little revolution inside the city. For example, they asked a licence for a FM radio... and it was the UNIQUE possibility to hear something in English in the city (no internet, still no parabolic antennas, etc...)

Most of American people who lived there knew it will be for some years. So then they made the steps to be citizens of Zaragoza (as well, they will be Spanish citizens for those years). This will help and save, for example, too many steps for health, education, etc... while living in Spain.

All those American people (90% of them militar, or familiar of a militar) buyed a new car at North America and they receive at Zaragoza. In fact, an Hercules plane (where they can carry even trucks) arrive twice per week to this airport from the US.

They were American cars but when they went to Traffic administration, they gave them a Spanish plate number (in the 90s, all of them will start with the Z of Zaragoza).

All of them had a plate smaller than the European cars but had no problem. Should anyone of them use the car to drive inside the city it was very easy to know they where American soldiers. Apart that it is not so usual to see American models at Europe... they were cars with a regular Spanish plate but a much smaller than the rest.

But they had no problem in that way.


What I do not remember is about the side intermittent lights but... no one of them lived in that base more than four years so if car was returned to America... no problem.
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Old August 3rd, 2011, 01:09 AM   #12
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Apart of it... in Spain it is mandatory to have:

- 2 red triangles. If you have to stop in a road you must put one 100m ahead and 100m before. If you stop on a motorway, only the one before.


- 1 Reflective Sleeveless sweater. If the driver must go out of the car on the road while the night, he must wear it.
Very important... the triangles can be (and usually people have them) in the car boot... but sleeveless sweater must be INSIDE the car. The driver must put on it inside the car and get of it the the sweater put on. (You can be fined in other way)

- And... a very old law not yet obsolete... it is mandatory to have spare lights!!!!! . Nowadays some of them are unusual (they must be changed on a garage), but law has not been abolished. Just policemen are recommended not to ask for them and not to fine in this way.

- What it is mandatory is something to repair a wheel flat. This can be a fifht wheel (and tools to change it) or some tools to repair it, and be able to drive to the nearest garage.


- About documents:
* Driving licence. Driving without a valid one is punished with jail. They are very strict with it (specially when there was too many outside European citizens who used to drive without licence). And it is the same case if you do not have licence, if you have a licence not able in Spain, if you have lost all your points (12 points in the licence... if lost = no licence until recovering them), if you have been punished without the licence for a time because an infraction or just if it has expired and you forgot to renew it
* Car insurance able in the country (for most of European or north African countries, the "yellow card" that gaves you with the your insurance documentation
* The document it says the owner's car
* The document it says the car's specifications and that it is able to drive (and where they stamp in every two years check)

*... and it is mandatory too, the yearly car tax bank receipt... but no policemen has asked me for it up to today.
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Old August 3rd, 2011, 01:22 AM   #13
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Dude, you really like writing a lot.
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Old August 3rd, 2011, 01:52 AM   #14
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Maybe...


but at least... anyone who reads and needs information will have it (or at least that's what I expect)
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Old August 3rd, 2011, 02:25 AM   #15
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Interesting posts on Spain!
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Old August 3rd, 2011, 11:40 AM   #16
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In Germany you must have first aid kit in your car while in Italy this is not compulsory.
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Old August 3rd, 2011, 11:58 AM   #17
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Some countries require a fire extinguisher, though this is basically a nonsense requirement, as the ones you can reasonably carry in your car are far too small to extinguish a fire, plus most people buy the cheaper, but less effective powder extinguisher as opposed to the foam extinguisher. Use your powder extinguisher once, and your car is ready for the junkyard, even if it didn't suffer significant fire damage. The powder destroys all electronics.
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Old August 3rd, 2011, 12:12 PM   #18
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When travelling between countries by car, one of the most useful things one must be aware of is the vienna convention on road traffic. Ratified by most countries in europe, it's most practical effect is that when travelling between countries that have signed the vienna convention, the vehicle has to meet all technical requirements in the country of registration. Therefore for example, a Pole going to Germany doesn't need to have a first aid kit, and a German going to Poland doesn't need a fire extinguisher.
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Old August 3rd, 2011, 12:58 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisZwolle View Post
Some countries require a fire extinguisher, though this is basically a nonsense requirement, as the ones you can reasonably carry in your car are far too small to extinguish a fire, plus most people buy the cheaper, but less effective powder extinguisher as opposed to the foam extinguisher. Use your powder extinguisher once, and your car is ready for the junkyard, even if it didn't suffer significant fire damage. The powder destroys all electronics.


In Spain, taxi and public cars, apart of "higher" vehicles (trucks, buses...).

Not necessary for a normal car.
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Old August 3rd, 2011, 12:59 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by g.spinoza View Post
In Germany you must have first aid kit in your car while in Italy this is not compulsory.


What does it have the kit?. Do any shop sell the "compulsory kit" together or you must go buying loose parts for it?

It seems interesting. Normally nothing happens but...
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