Drive safely in Britain
Check out our information on driving regulations in Britain and find out what licence you'll need, information on speed limits, tips on parking and more.
Below is a summary of the basic rules of the road in Britain. For more detailed information check the Highway Code website before you drive.
Different speed limits apply depending on the type of road and the vehicle you're driving. You must not exceed the maximum speed limit set for the road and your vehicle.
Car and motorcycles
Cars towing caravans or trailers
Remember: The speed limit is the absolute maximum and does not mean it is safe to drive at that speed irrespective of conditions. Driving at speeds too fast for the road and traffic conditions can be dangerous.
If you want to drive in Britain, you must have either:
Note: A provisional (learner's) driving licence issued abroad is not valid for use in the UK.
*Countries included in the EC/EEA are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Republic of Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.
Parking in Britain can be very complicated. There are lots of different regulations to follow, and sometimes it can be hard knowing where you can park. Restricted parking areas are heavily monitored and fines can be very expensive.
You'll find residents' parking in many residential areas. We use it to cut down congestion and make sure residents always have somewhere to park. Spaces are reserved for locally-living permit holders.
You can often park in these areas without a permit after 18:00 on weekdays and all day on weekends, but restrictions vary greatly so check the local street signs. If you park in a resident's parking space you will almost certainly get a penalty notice (fine) and your vehicle may be removed.
Single and double yellow and red lines along the edge of the road are used to show where you can and can't park.
Car parks are a great (often secure) alternative to on-street parking and there are thousands across Britain. Some are free, but you'll usually have to pay. Fares vary depending on location and time.
Car parks can be found at railway stations, airports, and large supermarkets, or simply in an area where extra parking is needed. For car parks servicing a particular company, you usually have to be a customer to use them. For most car parks there's a time restraint on how long you can stay.
In most car parks, there is a tariff board on display at the entrance which tells you how much it costs to park. The cost usually rises with every hour of your stay, and you pay on the way out.
If you're parking in an unknown area, it's best to find a car park with security, and make sure you never leave any valuables on display in your car.
To find a car park in Britain, use the VisitBritain journey planner.
Pay and display is a parking system where you buy a ticket for a certain amount of parking time. Pay and display is used for on-street parking, car parks, and wherever you see the pay and display sign.
Pay and display prices depend on location and time. The machine will tell you cost-per-minute for parking. As you insert money into the machine, a clock display will show ticket expiry time. Simply keep inserting money until the display shows the time you want to leave the car park.
There is usually a button to press which prints your ticket. You must clearly display the ticket on the dashboard, windscreen, or passenger window. You must remove your car or pay for more time before your allocated time on your ticket runs out (the time is printed clearly on your ticket).
If you're planning on driving through London, you'll probably be affected by the Congestion Zone Charge.
What is the congestion charge?
The congestion charge is a daily charge to drive in central London between 07:00 and 18:00, Monday to Friday excluding Public Holidays. It's designed to reduce traffic and raise money to improve transport in London.
There are no barriers or toll booths on the boundary to the zone and you don't have to show any tickets or passes. The zone's monitored by cameras, which record all vehicle number plates and determine whether the charge has been paid. They recognise both British and European number plates.
Where and when does it operate?
The congestion charging zone operates across the centre of London between 07:00 and 18:00, Monday to Friday. There is no charge outside these times, at weekends or on Public Holidays.
There are certain roads you can use to get through central London without paying. The zone’s clearly indicated by road markings and signs.
To see a map of where the congestion charge operates and for more details check the London Congestion Charge pages of the Transport for London website.
For up-to-date traffic information, use the VisitBritain journey planner.