Motorcycling in Europe: The Legal Requirements

September 28, 2017

A motorcycle holiday in Europe is a fantastic way to see its diverse landscapes and cities, and experience its varied cultures. You have the freedom to explore when and where you like, and there are plenty of stunning stretches of road to cruise along.

Before you ride off into the sunset, it’s essential that you know the rules of the road in whatever country you visit. There are special rules for motorcyclists that differ from country to country, so make sure you’re prepared with our handy guide.

General motoring advice

Whichever countries you plan to travel through, there are some items and documents you should carry with you at all times:

  • Your full, valid driving license.
  • Your passport
  • European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This free card allows you to access reduced cost or free healthcare in any country in the European Economic Area, as well as Switzerland.

Crash helmets

Any sensible motorcyclist knows to always wear a crash helmet, and most countries require them to be worn by law. Many countries also specify that the helmet must feature straps, though this is a normal feature on all good helmets.

In Belgium it’s also the law to wear protective clothing, including gloves, long sleeved jackets, and boots to protect the ankles. In France it’s compulsory to wear reflective stickers on the front, rear, and sides of the helmet in accordance with UNECE Regulation 22, which are often supplied with the helmet when you buy it.

Reflective jackets

Carrying a reflective jacket for use in an emergency is compulsory in many European countries, and recommended in many others, so it’s a good piece of kit to invest in.

Legally required in: France, Belgium


It’s recommended to always drive with dipped headlights in any country, but it’s a legal requirement in Scandinavia, including Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. It’s also a legal requirement in Germany, Belgium, and France.


Drinking and driving rules are generally similar throughout Europe, with strict limits on the amount of alcohol you can have in your bloodstream. To be safe, it’s best to avoid drinking altogether when you’re in charge of a vehicle.

Police carry out random breathalyser tests throughout Europe, but in France it’s also a legal requirement for all motorists to carry their own breathalyser.

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