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To the UK by Car

Foreign visitors can legally drive in the UK using a valid non-UK driving licence for up to 12 months from the date of arrival. Driving in the UK is on the left side of the road and the driver’s seat is on the right. Drivers used to driving on the right side of the road, will take some time to adapt to driving on the left. If driving your own car, ensure you have adequate insurance and the car is roadworthy. The law requires both the driver and passengers to fasten their seat belts while the vehicle is moving. The law also prohibits the driver from using a mobile phone while driving and there are strict laws against driving under the influence of alcohol. British police strictly enforced the country’s driving laws.

Roads in the UK

Motorways in the UK are long distance roads or expressways connecting with the major cities. Roads called primary routes connect the larger towns with the motorways while secondary routes and B-roads connect with the smaller towns. Minor routes are the small country roads and streets in the residential areas. The speed limit for vehicles on the motorways and dual carriageways (divided roads travelling in opposite directions) is 70 mph (112 kph). The speed limit on single carriageways (undivided roads travelling in opposite directions) is 60 mph (96 kph) and built-up areas 30 mph (48 kph).

M1 Motorway by DaveGorman

Continental Europe to the UK

The UK is an island nation and therefore not possible to drive directly into the country from Continental Europe. Two options are available to take your vehicle across the English Channel namely the Eurotunnel Shuttle trains and ferry services carrying vehicles and their passengers.

Eurotunnel Shuttle

The high-speed Eurotunnel Shuttle trains carry road vehicles and their passengers between Calais in northern France and Folkestone in southern England. The trains pass through the Channel Tunnel under the English Channel at a speed of 160 kph (100 mph) and the journey takes just 35 minutes. Therefore, you can stay seated in the vehicle while the train is moving though you can stretch out your legs is you wish. Toilets are available on the train should you need to use them.

Boarding the Eurotunnel Shuttle by Ministère des Affaires Étrangères Français

Note that the British immigration and customs border checks are not in the UK but at the point of embarkation in France after the French exit check. Once you arrive in Folkestone, there are several road options depending on where you want to go. The M20 motorway heads northwest toward London while the A20 heads toward the southeastern region of England. Taking the A259 leads you westward and connects with the A27 along the southern coast of England.

Vehicle Carrying Ferries

There are ferries carrying road vehicles and their passengers between several ports on the UK mainland and Republic of Ireland as well as Continental Europe including France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain. Operators offering the ferry services include Brittany Ferries, P&O Ferries, DFDS Seaways and Stena Line. There are also vehicle-carrying ferries operated by P&O Ferries, Stena Line and Irish Ferries sailing between the Republic of Ireland and Wales. Note that passengers must leave the car deck and not allowed to return once the ferry sails. So remember to bring your essentials once you leave the car deck.

Ferry carrying vehicles and passengers by Ben Salter

Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland

The UK’s only land crossing is the border shared between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. There are no border controls (immigration and customs checks) on either side and you’ll only realise you’ve crossed the border by a simple road sign stating you are leaving one country and entering another. However, travellers crossing the border must have with them appropriate travel documents such as a passport regardless of the country they are from. Road signs in the Republic of Ireland are in kilometres and those in Northern Ireland are in miles.

Border at Altnamachin by Dean Molyneaux

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