Please remember that driving in the UK is always on the left-hand side of the road.

Roundabouts

The UK has a large number of roundabouts. While European visitors may be familiar with them American visitors may not. The simple rules of a roundabout are:

Always give way to all traffic from your right.

Always travel in a clockwise direction even if it means you have to go all the way round to get to your junction.

Driving Licence and Insurance

The holder of an overseas driving licence may, for a period of up to one year, drive a motor vehicle in Britain. EU drivers must possess a driving licence and either a passport or ID card.

Drivers outwith the EU must possess a valid domestic driving licence with English translation. If English translation is not available, an international driving permit is required in addition to a domestic driving licence. A passport must also accompany a domestic driving licence.

Speed Limits

On UK roads the speed limits are always in miles per hour and unless stated are:

Cars

  • Built up areas
  • Single carriageway
  • Dual carriageway
  • Motorway

Vans

  • Built up areas
  • Single carriageway
  • Dual carriageway
  • Motorway

Seat Belts

It is compulsory to wear seat belts, both front and rear. Small children and babies must be restrained in a appropriate child car seat or carrier. Child car seats should be ordered when you book your car. See our child safety fact sheet for more information.

Drinking & Driving

It is an offence to drink and drive. If caught and convicted, the criminal penalties are severe.

Using mobile phones

It is an offence to drive a vehicle whilst using a mobile phone. Police can issue spot fines, which may be as high as £1000.

Bus Lane Enforcements

Bus Lane Enforcement has been introduced in a number of cities across the UK to help improve the free flow of congested bus lanes, improve the overall traffic flow on city roads and improve road safety.

For more information on the specific bus lane enforcement regulations and penalty charge notices that may apply in the city you are driving in, please visit the cities local council website.

Congestion charges and clean air charges

In some areas of the UK, congestion charges, low emission and clean air zones have been introduced.

London

Congestion Charge zone

You need to pay a £15 daily charge if you drive within the Congestion Charge zone between 07:00-22:00, every day, except Christmas Day (25th December). You can find out what area of London the charges apply to here.

Low Emission Zone (LEZ)

This charge must be paid when a vehicle does not meet the emissions standards and is driven within the zone. The LEZ operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and covers most of the Greater London area. The zone covers the same area as the Congestion Charge. Most vehicles, including cars and vans, need to meet the ULEZ emissions standards or their drivers must pay a daily charge to drive within the zone:

• £100 per day if the vehicle meets the Euro IV standard (PM only)

• £300 per day if the vehicle does not meet the Euro IV standard (PM only)

These vehicles do not need to pay an additional ULEZ charge to drive in the central London area.

Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)

If your vehicle does not meet these standards, you must also pay the ULEZ charge. The ULEZ operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year, except Christmas Day (25th December). The zone covers the same area as the Congestion Charge. Most vehicles, including cars and vans, need to meet the ULEZ emissions standards or their drivers must pay a daily charge to drive within the zone:

• £12.50 for most vehicle types, including cars, motorcycles and vans (up to and including 3.5 tonnes)

• £100 for heavier vehicles, including lorries (over 3.5 tonnes) and buses/coaches (over 5 tonnes)

Once you know the registration of the vehicle you are hiring, you can pay before you go.

From 25th October 2021, the ULEZ is expanding beyond central London. You can find out more information here.

Bath

Clean Air Zone

Bath has a Class C Clean Air Zone, which means that charges only apply to taxis, private hire vehicles, vans, light goods vehicles, buses, coaches and heavy goods vehicles that do not meet the required emission standards. You can find more details here.

Birmingham

Clean Air Zone

Birmingham's Clean Air Zone covers all roads within the A4540 Middleway Ring Road but not the Middleway itself. This includes the A38 and tunnels.

The zone operates 24 hours a day, all year round. You can check if you qualify to be charged here.

Find the Clean Air Zone map here.

Portsmouth

Clean Air Zone

This Clean Air Zone will launch November 2021. If you are planning on traveling to Portsmouth this year, please find the most up-to-date information on charges here.