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In Belgium every car is required to carry at least one fire extinguisher. In Germany you need to have an environment sticker to drive into a city. In France you might need alcohol testers. Coming from mainland Europe to the UK you are required to apply lamp stickers. You need to have fluo vests in some countries. Sometime only the driver, some times all passengers. Today I learned that in Spain you are required to carry spare glasses. If you are wearing sun glasses, while driving you also need to have spare sun glasses. I could ofcourse ask a question on each country which I intend to visit, but can I make my car fully EU compliant. Meaning I have everything required in if it is required in at least one EU member state.

What inventory should I have in my car? What tests, governmental stickers, or other regulation should I adhere too?

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Parodic version: blip.tv/ledouaisis/g-5996544 (in french but the picture is clear enough to understand) –  travelot Mar 1 '13 at 13:28
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@travelot :) How could I forget, a GRD sticker should be on my EU compliant car –  andra Mar 1 '13 at 13:47
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The alcohol tester law in France had been postponed until today, 1st of March. The final decision is: you need them, but nothing happens if you don't (this is a law from the previous government that passed to help a friend of the president, the current government neutralized it...) –  Quentin Pradet Mar 1 '13 at 15:54
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Being as active on travel.se as I am, I would say that that it is quite likely. –  andra Mar 2 '13 at 5:58
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I've not read up on the rules and regs for all countries, but it's almost certain you're going to find some contradictory laws, making it impossible to be legal in all of them at the same time. E.g. the headlight stickers for the UK will likely make your car illegal somewhere else that prohibits any stickers or other obstructions on the lights. –  jwenting Mar 4 '13 at 7:17
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5 Answers 5

The British AA provides a list of recommended items for selected European countries.

Interestingly, they claim that fire extinguishers are only required for cars registered in Belgium.

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Interesting, but unfortunately the list is incomplete (as is similar lists from other AA-like organizations I consulted). The country stickers are also not required anymore, since every license plate has the blue EU flag with country indication –  andra Mar 1 '13 at 13:00
    
@Andrea cars with older plates and non-EU cars still need the stickers, though. –  uncovery Mar 1 '13 at 13:08
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@Andra that is not correct. For example, many cars still produced in the UK don't have the blue EU flag on the plate: gov.uk/displaying-number-plates/flags-symbols-and-identifiers –  Andrew Ferrier Mar 4 '13 at 7:33
    
@uncovery: many non-EU license plates use same scheme, difference is that instead of EU flag they have national flag. –  vartec Mar 4 '13 at 10:12
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@vartec AFAIK only for cars registered in Spain –  Dirty-flow Mar 11 '13 at 12:02
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Some of requirements not typically mentioned:

  • winter tires — under some conditions required in Austria, Sweden, Finland and Germany.
  • warning triangles — Spain and Switzerland require not one, but two of them.
  • fire extinguisher — Poland not only requires you to have it, but to have it in "readily accessible", which means you cannot have it in the trunk. Typically they are put under driver's seat.
  • replacement light bulbs — some countries (France, Poland, Czech Rep., Croatia) require you to have replacement bulbs for any of the lights that is legally required.
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France does not require replacement light bulbs (even if many French people will tell you it does). You can be fined if a light is broken and you can't replace it on the spot but as long as none of them are broken, the fact that you wouldn't be able to fix them is not in itself an offense. It's a pretty arcane distinction but it means the police can't just fine you because there are no replacement light bulbs in your car. –  Relaxed Jun 30 at 23:17
    
Netherlands require replacement bulbs, something even many Dutch people don't realise. But same as in France, I've never heard of anyone being fined for not having them unless they were stopped for a broken light and couldn't replace it (of course with the way most cars are now built, replacing a light without a workshop is a futile effort whether you have spares or not). –  jwenting Jul 1 at 8:02
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Portugal

  • You need at least 1 fluo vest.
  • Warning triangle
  • A spare tire is not required, but if you have one it must be in good shape

I am not sure these are mandatory for cars with a foreigner license plate though.

You will need to buy or rent an electronic payment device to be able to use some highways with electronic tolls only.

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If I am not wrong the principle is that if you drive in a country, you adhering to local regulations is mandatory. The chances of you being caught driving in Belgium without a fire extinguisher are slim, but foreigner did get tickets for not having it on board. –  andra Mar 1 '13 at 12:48
    
and carrying just that you'd be illegal in Spain where you need 1 fluo vest per occupant, 2 warning triangles, a medical kit (required in most countries, recommended in all), and maybe more. In other countries a set of spare lamps and fuses is I think required, Germany requires winter tyres in winter which are illegal in some countries at least in certain months, etc. etc. –  jwenting Mar 4 '13 at 7:20
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The EU put out an app with a list of traffic rules in different countries and, under the “Other Specific Rules”, a list of safety equipment that might be required (including safety vests, warning triangles, fire extinguishers, and winter tires requirements). Unfortunately, it's short on the specifics, does not seem more comprehensive than other similar lists (e.g. from automobile clubs) and comes with a disclaimer.

One thing missing in all the answers and lists so far is the fact that devices warning the driver of speed controls ahead are forbidden in a number of countries (sorry link is in Dutch). The details vary from country to country and I don't know if you should realistically worry about it but I guess that to make your car fully compliant you should leave any personal navigation device with such functionality at home (TomTom has a clever work-around: They warn you of broader “danger zone” instead of telling you exactly where the automated speed control is, which is apparently legal, at least in France).

The environmental sticker system in Germany is also being constantly expanded so that it's now forbidden to ride in many city centers without one. You would need one to make your car fully compliant with German rules (if you wand to go to those cities, obviously).

Finally, many countries require a specific sticker to ride on the motorways but I don't know if that's really relevant to your question. Getting a year pass for all European motorways would be quite expensive. It makes more sense to buy a short-term sticker whenever you actually need to use a country's motorways. You would usually see warning signs and be able to buy one in the border area.

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I think the question is well meant, but giving specific advise ultimately useless.

The most important part while driving through the EU is not the equipment of your car, but the different traffic laws and customs which are unique to each country and which also change over time :/. For example the "environment sticker" is currently highly controversial, it is only necessary in parts of Germany (If you driving in the north, you do not need it) and as I am driving a motorbike, I do not need it anyway.

It is much more paramount to know the different laws because they are much more conspicous for local police than the equipment of your car. As you need to learn the customs anyway, the equipment list will be a gratuitous extra.

Example: In Italy you will find this signs which are completely ignored because they effectively only mean "road works".

EDIT: You will find all necessary information here: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/europe/

You need to extract all necessary information (following some links) from it, at least the info for Germany, France, Poland and Italy seems to be correct.

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Whether it is useless or not is beyond the point. Not able to show an environmental sticker results in a penalty. Same goes for winter tires, fire extinguishers, lamp blockers, fluo vests, etc. I agree that it might be useless, but law enforcement in different countries disagree here. I am not looking for advise, I want my car to be ticket proof in all EU countries and what I need to do to enable that. –  andra Mar 3 '13 at 13:57
    
The link you added doesn't seem to provide any answer to the question. It is more general information which you can find at almost every foreign office –  andra Mar 4 '13 at 13:27
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Uh...sorry, I see. The link would require diligence work on your part to put it all together and is therefore not the short and all-encompassing answer you are expecting. May I offer you now humbly my services to work for you free of charge some hours to look up and proofread information of 27 different EU countries (because I think noone has this information right now) and give it to you gift-wrapped as a nice shiny table as compensation for my impertinence ? Would that an acceptable reparation for giving you only annoying advise until now ? I really hope so. –  Thorsten S. Mar 8 '13 at 2:41
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