Driving to the United Kingdom
I would recommend taking your own car especially, if you need to take to the United Kingdom larger volume of goods that you would not take by bus či by plane. At the same time, it is better for you, if you don’t want to be limited by time (bus and train), stops on the way or would like to visit interesting places and local specialities.
You can get to the United Kingdom by the Eurotunnel or by a ferry
- The way through the Eurotunnel is much faster and takes around 35 minutes. Concurrently, it is also more expensive (the prices oscillate between £70 and 200). Count your travel costs specifically for your case. It is also possible to buy the ticket in advance.
- By ferry, it takes around 90 minutes and the price goes from £40 up to 100.
Altogether, the journey should not be more expensive than £80 per person, if you travel in four persons. In case you still have a place in the car, you can offer it using the portal ‘car-sharing’. Similar servers might be also used, if you wanted to travel with someone else.
The most exploited and fastest route goes from Calais to Dover, where the British Channel is the narrowest. The ferry takes around 90 minutes. To get to Calais, it is the best to travel around the sea coast, as you don’t have to pay for the motorway fees.
The second option is to travel from Oostende to Ramsgate. It is much longer and takes around 4 hours. I would recommend you this option, if you wanted to have a rest before arriving to the UK and (there are hundreds of benches on board) and you enjoy calm cruises.
And how the transport really work? Before you are allowed to enter the ferry with your car, your travel pass is checked by the staff. After the check, you might go to the upper floors of the ferry. Before landing, the upcoming arrival is announced. After the landing, you go back to your car and drive out of the ferry.
Driving in the UK – tips
- Do not forget that as soon as you land on the British soil, you must drive on the left side!
- The British motorways are marked M that is followed by a number (e.g. M45).
- If you are planning to stay longer, I would recommend to change your European driving licence for the British one.
- There are the carriage ways around most of the British towns and cities, make use of them that save time and money.
- In the big cities, it is common to find four and more lined motorways, be particularly careful there.
- The traffic rules are almost the same as in the Czech Republic and other European countries. They differ only when it comes to parking and speed limits. The traffic lights and signs are the same. However, you need to keep in mind that the speed is in miles and not kilometres per hour.
- In towns and cities, the speed limit is 30 mil/h (equal to circa 48 km/h). You can find more on the speed limits in the following table:
|Means of transport||Urban area|
|Two and less lines (one line for each direction)|
|More lines (for each of the directions)|
|Cars and motorbikes|
(including cars above 2 tonnes)
|30 (48)||60 (96)||70 (112)||70 (112)|
|Caravans, or cars with trailers|
(including lorries and motorbikes)
|30 (48)||50 (80)||60 (96)||60 (96)|
|Buses and minibuses|
(not exceeding 12 metres of length)
|30 (48)||50 (80)||60 (96)||70 (112)|
(not exceeding 7.5 tonnes)
|30 (48)||50 (80)||60 (96)||70 (112)|
|Heavy goods vehicle|
(exceeding 7.5 tonnes)
|30 (48)||40 (64)||50 (80)||56 (90)|
Bear in mind that the speed limit is the maximum meaning that if you drive with that speed, you might not drive safely. It always depends on the weather conditions, the traffic or state of the road.
If you want to drive a car in the UK, you need one of the following documents:
- A driving licence valid in the European Union/European Economic area (EU/EEA).
- A valid driving licence issued by the country of your origin (EU/EEA).
Changing the European driving licence for the British one
Currently, the EU citizens might use their valid driving licence from the European Union. This practice is possible until 70 years of age.
If you are older than 68, you might still use your European driving licence for the next three years until you become a resident that means living in the UK for more than 183 days.
You might ask for the change even earlier, for example due to the following reasons:
- It is required by your employer, or there are higher chances to get the job.
- You need a proof of address, the British driving licence might serve as the proof of address.
- To save money on car insurance.
Online order from the DVLA (Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency) form that might concern you:
- D1 = Application for the driving licence of the car, moped or motorbike.
- D2 = Application for the driving licence of the truck, minibus or car.
Alternatively, you may choose any other that might suit you. Simply, you fill in your name, surname, British address and check the respective column that you need. You should get the specific form within 7 working days, since the moment you send the request. Then, you fill in the application and send to the given address together with your EU driving licence and a fee of £43. If everything goes well, you get your British driving licence in three weeks.
Parking in the UK
The parking might be sometimes very complicated. You come across many regulations and differences from your home country. It is occasionally difficult to understand, why it is not possible to park your car there. The traffic wardens check the violations of the parking regulations and the given fee are usually very high.
Parking for residents
Private parking or parkings (free spots) for residents, can be found almost everywhere and in many places of your place of living. Based on that fact, it is possible to regulate the parking situation and allow the local people to find a place to park the car. Places are reserved for the card holders who are living in the surroundings .
You can often park in the area after 18:00 (and during the weekends) and the whole day. The restrictions are often very different and it is worth verifying their validity (at the beginning and end of the street).
If your car is parked against the law, you always get a fine, sometimes the car might be even towed away.
Red and yellow lines
Either a single, or double yellow line and the red line (lines) mark, where you can and cannot park.
- Single yellow line: limitations in certain times. It is possible to stop there to allow people to get out of the car, but the driver must always be behind the wheel. At the beginning of the marked area, you should find the time period, when it is restricted.
- Two yellow stripes: you should not park there at any time.
- Single red line: you cannot stop or park at the selected period (written at the beginning of the zone).
- Two red lines: you cannot stop or park car there at any circumstances.
Car park is a perfect alternative to the parking at the street (very often guarded) and you can find thousands of them all around the UK. Sometimes, it is possible to park for free, but in majority of cases you need to pay. The fees differ according to the location and time.
Car parks tend to be located in front of railway stations, airports, supermarkets or simply where they are necessary. Parking at the car park belonging to a specific company (shop, firm or warehouse) is conditioned by the fact that you must be a customer of the company.
At majority of the parkings, you can also find time period, when it is allowed to park cars there.
In front of the car park, you can normally find a table with instructions and fees. The rules and usually the same as in the Czech Republic and other European countries, you pay for every new hour at the moment, until you leave the parking.
If you park your car at places that you don’t know, it is worth to look for guarded parking. Obviously, you should not leave anything valuable inside of the car. The burglars are everywhere.
Driving and parking in London
If you are driving through London, you will probably have to pay the so-called Congestion Zone Charge.
It is a daily tariff for the driving in the centre of London (7:00 – 18:00, Monday to Friday, except for the bank holidays). It is due to the traffic and tax purposes, money goes into the development of public transport in London.
You cannot find any specific barriers or toll gates, when you come to the Congestion Zone. You don’t need any specific permissions. All zones are monitored by the CCTV system of cameras that records the car numbers. The CCTV can recognise, which types of cars are charged and differentiate between the British, European and other car numbers.
These zones can be found in the city centre of London and the rules are valid from 7:00 to 18:00, Monday to Friday. London is free of charge during the weekends.
Finally, in London you can find different routes that you can follow without fees and legally. These routes are marked by traffic signs and directions.