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Speed Limits and Driving Laws From Around the World

If you want to find out the speed limit and the important driving laws in the country you are visiting, check out our handy overview of some of our top car hire destinations around Europe and beyond. 

Compare car hire around the world

Our useful guide will help you be as best prepared as possible for your trip — but since laws can be changed from time to time, we recommend you check with the governing body of the country you are visiting before you travel. 

In this guide:

Spain

  • Motorways and dual carriageways: 120km/h (unless the motorway or dual carriageway is in a built-up area, where the speed limit drops to 80km/h)
  • Roads with more than one lane in each direction: 100km/h
  • Roads outside built-up areas: 90km/h
  • Roads in built up areas: 50km/h (although the limit has been lowered to 20km/h on certain roads, such as those around schools)

Did you know...?

  • Carrying a spare tyre, a warning triangle and a reflective jacket is compulsory in Spain.
  • If you wear glasses for driving, you must carry a spare pair.
  • The use of full headlights is prohibited in built-up areas — instead, use sidelights or dipped headlights depending how well lit the road is.
  • Fines for driving offences can be as much as €600 in Spain.
  • In built-up areas, you are only allowed to sound your horn in cases of emergency.
  • The use of radar detectors or a GPS which detects the location of speed cameras is prohibited.
  • Wearing seat belts is compulsory.
  • Children need to be taller than 135cm to travel without a child seat. Children under 135cm cannot travel in the front seat, unless all the back seats are occupied by other children.
  • The drink drive limit is 0.05%, or 0.03% for people who have held their driving licence for less than 2 years. 

France

  • Motorways: 130km/h
  • Urban motorways and dual carriageways separated by a central reservation: 110km/h
  • Roads outside built-up areas: 90km/h
  • Roads in built-up areas: 50km/h

Did you know...?

  • In wet weather (or for visiting drivers who have held their licence for less than 3 years), the speed limit reduces to 110km/h on motorways, 100km/h on dual carriageways and 80km/h on roads outside built-up areas.
  • It is compulsory to carry a breathalyser, a warning triangle and a reflective jacket. Snow chains must also be fitted to vehicles using snow-covered roads (in compliance with the relevant road sign). 
  • When overtaking a bicycle, drivers must leave a distance of 1m in built-up areas and 1.5m outside built-up areas when overtaking. 
  • On-the-spot fines for speeding offences can cost up to €135 (unless you break the speed limit by more than 50km/h, when you can expect to pay €1,500). 
  • The use of any device which detects speed cameras is prohibited. 
  • The police are allowed to conduct random breath tests. The drink drive limit is 0.05% in France. 
  • If a driver is involved in an accident or commits a traffic offence (such as speeding or not wearing a seat belt), they must take a drugs test. 
  • You can get parking discs for ‘blue zone’ parking areas from tourist offices, police stations and selected shops.
  • Children under 10 years old must travel in an approved child seat (or restraint) adapted to their age and size. Children under 10 are not allowed to travel in the front of a vehicle, unless there are no rear seats, the rear seats are already occupied by other children under 10 or there are no seat belts fitted in the back. 
  • The driver and all passengers must wear their seat belt. 
  • Dipped headlights must be used in the day when visibility is poor. 

Italy

  • Motorways: 130km/h
  • Dual Carriageways: 110km/h
  • Roads outside built-up areas: 90km/h
  • Roads in built-up areas: 50km/h

Did you know...?

  • In wet weather, the speed limit reduces to 90km/h on dual carriageways, and 110km/h on motorways.
  • You must carry a warning triangle, a reflective jackets and snow chains (in the area of Val d'Aosta between October 15th and April 15th, or at other times if the conditions dictate. Snow chains may also be required in other areas — if they are, it will be indicated by the International Road Sign).
  • You must use dipped headlights during the day outside built-up areas and during times of poor visibility (i.e. snow and rain).
  • The drink drive limit is 0.051%, but for professional drivers and people who have held their licence for less than three years, the limit is zero. 
  • A speeding ticket in Italy will cost around €150. Parking fines tend to incur cost of €70-€80. 
  • If you commit a serious offence (such as speeding or going through a red light) between 10pm and 7am, the fine will be increased by a third. 
  • In many major towns and historical city centres, traffic is restricted to residents only.
  • It is compulsory for both the driver and any passengers to wear their seat belt.
  • There aren’t any specific laws regarding child seats in Italy, but it is recommended you ensure children are properly restrained according to their age and height. 
  • If you are using a GPS which can detect the location of fixed speed cameras, you must disable this function. 

Portugal

  • Motorways: 120km/h
  • Roads outside built-up areas: either 90km/h or 100km/h depending what the sign dictates
  • Roads in built-up areas: 50km/h (in some town centres the speed limit is reduced to 20km/h)

Did you know...?

  • The minimum speed on motorways is 50km/h, and motorists who have had their licence for less than a year must not exceed 90km/h.
  • You must carry photographic proof of identity, a warning triangle and a pre-paid toll device when driving in Portugal. 
  • The use of dipped headlights is compulsory when driving through tunnels and when visibility is poor during the day.
  • Both the driver and any passengers must wear their seat belt. 
  • Speeding fines in Portugal depend on that kind of road you are driving on and how much over the limit you are speeding. Exceeding the limit by less than 20km/h in cities, towns and built-up areas (or less than 30km/h on normal roads, dual carriageways and motorways) can cost anything from €60 to €300. The more severe the speeding offence, the heftier the fine — which can be as high as €2,500. 
  • Children under 12 years old and less than 135cm tall are not allowed to travel in the front seat. Instead, they must travel in the rear of the car with a restraint system suited to their size, unless the vehicle only has front seats.
  • Children under three years old can use the front passenger seat, as long as a suitable child restraint is used and the airbag is switched off (if using a rear-facing child restraint system).
  • The drink drive limit in Portugal is 0.05%. 
  • You can be fined up to €600 if caught using a mobile phone while driving. Throwing litter out of your car window can also land you a fine of up to €300.
  • It is illegal to carry bicycles on the back of a passenger car.
  • If you are using a GPS which detects the location of fixed speed cameras, you must disable this function. 

Switzerland

  • Motorways: 120km/h
  • Semi-Motorways: 100km/h
  • Roads outside built-up areas: 80km/h
  • Roads in built-up areas: 50km/h

Did you know...?

  • An annual tax is levied on Swiss motorways and semi-motorways. To show that the tax has been paid, a ‘vignette’ (a sticker) must be displayed (usually on the car’s windscreen). If you hire a car in Switzerland, the vignette will already be applied in most cases. 
  • If you are using a GPS which indicates the location of fixed speed cameras, you must deactivate this function.
  • You must carry snow chains (which must be fitted on at least two drive wheels when indicated by the appropriate sign) and a warning triangle (which must be kept within easy reach, i.e. not in the boot). 
  • The use of dipped headlights or daytime running lights is compulsory at all times. You can be fined for not having these lights on during the day. 
  • Both the driver and any passengers must wear their seat belt. 
  • Vehicles are generally expected to stop for pedestrians, so be careful when approaching crossings — you may find people tend to just step into the road. 
  • Speeding fines in Switzerland are severe, so keep an eye on that speedometer! Just going 1-5km/h over the limit on any road other than a motorway can incur a fine of around £27. Travelling 21-25km/h over the limit on a motorway will set you back around £175!
  • The drink drive limit is 0.05%. If you are a visiting driver and are caught over the limit, you may be banned from driving in Switzerland for a minimum of one month. 
  • During the day, you must sound your horn before sharp bends where visibility is restricted (when in built-up areas). After dark, you must warn other drivers by flashing your headlights instead. 
  • Children up to 12 years old (or up to 150cm tall, whichever they reach first) must be secured in a child restraint that is approved to UN ECE regulation 44.03 or 44.04.

Germany

  • Motorways and dual carriageways: Advisory speed limit of 130km/h
  • Roads outside built-up areas: 100km/h
  • Roads in built-up areas: 50km/h

Did you know...?

  • If a vehicle has snow chains fitted, the maximum speed is 50km/h. 
  • Driving with dipped headlights or daytime running lights is recommended at all times. This becomes compulsory if fog, snow or rain reduces visibility during daylight hours.
  • The drink drive limit is 0.050%, or zero for drivers who are either under 21, or have held their licence for less than two years. 
  • Children under 12 years old and less than 150cm tall must use a child restraint or be seated in a child seat. You cannot use a child seat in the front seat unless the airbag has been deactivated. 
  • If you are using a GPS which detects the location of fixed speed cameras, you must disable this function. If you are unable to disable it, you must not carry the GPS in the car. The use of radar detectors is also prohibited.
  • The driver and passengers are required to wear their seat belts. 
  • On-the-spot fines of up to €35 can be issued if you violate any traffic regulations.
  • You don’t have to pay any tolls on German autobahns. 
  • It is compulsory to have winter tyres and winter equipment when the conditions dictate. It is also recommended foreign drivers carry a warning triangle (a warning triangle is compulsory for German residents). 

The Netherlands

  • Motorways: 130km/h
  • Roads outside built-up areas: either 80km/h or 100km/h depending what the sign dictates
  • Roads in built-up areas: 50km/h

Did you know...?

  • Only cars capable of doing more than 60km/h are permitted on the motorway.
  • It is recommended you use dipped headlights during the day. 
  • In the Netherlands, trams have priority. Buses also have right of way when they are pulling out of bus stops in built-up areas. 
  • The drink drive limit is 0.05%, or 0.02% for people who have held their licence for less than two years.
  • You should not use your horn at night (unless in cases of extreme danger), and you should only use it if absolutely necessary during the day. Failure to comply can lead to high penalties. 
  • Children under the age of 18 who are smaller than 135cm must be seated in an approved child seat or booster seat suited to their size if they are travelling in the front seat. Children under 3 years must not travel in the car at all unless seated in an appropriate child restraint. 
  • You don’t have to pay motorway tolls in the Netherlands. 
  • It is compulsory for the driver and any passengers to wear their seat belt. 
  • On some roundabouts you have right of way if you are actually on the roundabout, and on others you have right of way if you are coming onto it.
  • In the Netherlands, you can be fined €230 for using a mobile phone while driving. 
  • There is no compulsory equipment that must be carried, but a warning triangle is recommended.
  • It is illegal to use a GPS to detect the location of fixed speed cameras. Radar detectors are also prohibited (and can incur a fine of €430). 
  • Speeding penalties in the Netherlands depend on the type of road you are driving on and how far over the speed limit you are. On urban roads, you can be fined €26-46 for just doing 8-10km/h over the limit, up to €257-316 if you are doing 31-33km/h over the limit. In residential areas, you can be fined €44-70 for doing 7-10km/h over the limit, through to €376-410 for exceeding the limit by 31-33km/h. 

Dubai

Speed limits in Dubai can vary, so pay close attention to the road signs. Generally though, speed limits are as follows:

  • Highways and motorways: either 110km/h or 120km/h, depending what the sign dictates.
  • Main roads in the city: usually 80km/h, although some can be 60km/h, 70km/h or 100km/h.
  • Minor roads in community areas: usually 40km/h. 

Did you know...?

  • Speed cameras and radar traps are commonplace in Dubai, so be sure to stick to the speed limit at all times. If you exceed the speed limit by less than 10km/h, expect the fine to be around £70. The more severe your speeding offence, the heftier the fine.
  • Jumping a red light can land you a fine of around £140. 
  • Using your mobile phone while driving is illegal.
  • It is compulsory for the driver and passengers to wear their seat belts. 
  • If you have an accident while driving in Dubai, you should not move the vehicle unless it is obstructing other motorists. 
  • Children under 9 months (or weighing under 10kg) must be seated in a child seat facing the rear of the car, while children aged between 9 months and 4 years (or weighing 9-18kg) should be seated in a forward-facing child seat. Booster seats can be used for children aged 4-6 years, weighing 15-25kg.
  • Making obscene gestures or muttering profanities at other drivers can land you in big trouble. Flashing your headlights at another vehicle is also considered rude. 
  • All people travelling in the car must wear their seat belt.
  • There is a zero tolerance to drink driving. If you are caught with any level of alcohol in your blood while driving, you risk a jail sentence.
  • Undertaking is illegal in Dubai.
  • A lot of drivers in Dubai don’t use their headlights, even after sunset. Pay close attention to your surroundings when driving at night. 
  • You must carry your driving licence and car hire documentation at all times. 

South Africa

  • National highways, urban freeways and other major routes: 120km/h
  • Roads outside built-up areas: 100km/h
  • Roads in built-up areas: 60km/h

Did you know...?

  • Wearing seat belts is compulsory.
  • The drink drive limit is 0.05% —approximately one glass of wine for the average woman and 1.5-2 glasses for the average man (although it’s best to avoid any alcohol when driving). 
  • There is no such thing as an on-the-spot fine in South Africa — instead your details will be taken and you will be issued with a ticket. Depending on the severity of the offence, fines can range from R500 (around £28) to R5000 (around £280). 
  • It is illegal to drive and use a mobile phone.
  • Petrol stations in South Africa are not self-service. Instead, an attendant will fill up your car for you. 
  • Four-way stops are commonplace (the first vehicle to arrive at one has priority).
  • Children between 3 and 14 years old (except those taller than 150cm) must use a child restraint if one is available, or wear a seat belt if the seat is fitted with one. Children under the age of 3 years must be seated in an appropriate child restraint. 
  • You must carry your driving licence with you at all times when driving in South Africa.
  • In South Africa, they call traffic lights ‘robots’. 
  • When driving between sunset and sunrise, or in hazardous conditions (such as rain, fog and dust), the car’s headlights, rear lights and number plate lights must be switched on. 

USA

Speed limits in the USA vary from state to state, so be sure to obey the signs. However, as a general rule of thumb, the speed limits are as follows:

  • Interstates: 70-75mph
  • Other 4-lane highways: 65-70mph
  • 2-lane roads: 55-65mph
  • Roads in urban areas: 20-35 mph

Did you know...?

  • Traffic drives on the right-hand side of the road in all states.
  • You must use dipped headlights between sunset and sunrise in all states. It is also legal to drive with headlights on during the day (and it is recommended you do if visibility is reduced). 
  • The drink drive limit can vary between states, but the general limit is 0.08%. 
  • The laws surrounding child seats also vary between states. Most states don’t allow children under the age of 12 to sit in the front seat.
  • There is no compulsory equipment needed in the USA.
  • The driver and front seat passenger must wear their seat belt (although it is recommended that all passengers wear them).
  • On roundabouts, drivers to the left have priority.
  • Although the cost of a speeding ticket varies by state and severity of the offence, the average fine is around $150. 
  • Overtaking is allowed in both the inside and outside lane on American freeways. 

Australia

The speed limits in Australia vary between states and territories, so it is best to pay attention to the road signs. However, in the absence of any road signs, Australia has two ‘default’ speed limits:

  • 50km/h (31mph) in built-up areas (except in the Northern Territory, where it is 60km/h or 37mph)
  • 100km/h (62mph) outside built-up areas (except in Western Australia and the Northern Territory, where it is 110km/h or 68mph)

Did you know...?

  • The drink drive limit in Australia is 0.05%. 
  • Wearing a seat belt is compulsory for the driver and any passengers in the car.
  • Headlights must be used between sunset and sunrise, or at any other time when visibility is reduced.
  • Children under the age of 7 are not allowed to travel in the front seat without a suitable child restraint or seat belt, even if the back seats are full. 
  • It is illegal to drive with your arm (or any other part of your body) hanging out of the window, unless you are doing so to indicate. 
  • Speeding fines can vary between states and territories. In Victoria, breaking the speed limit by less than 10km/h incurs a fine of $185 (around £94), while going more than 45km/h over the limit will land you a fine of $738 (around £375). In Queensland, going less than 13km/h over the limit will cost you $151 (around £77), while going more than 40km/h over the limit will cost a whopping $1062 (around £540). 
  • You must carry your driving licence and the car hire documentation with you at all times. 
  • It is illegal to use your mobile phone while driving in all Australian states and territories. 

Republic of Ireland

  • Motorways: 120km/h
  • National Roads: 100km/h
  • Regional Roads: 80km/h
  • Urban Roads: 50km/h (although lower limits may apply to certain roads, such as those around schools which tend to be 30km/h)

Did you know...?

  • The drink drive limit is 0.05%, with a lower limit of 0.02% for novice drivers. Random breath testing is commonplace throughout Ireland.
  • You are not required to carry any specific equipment when driving in Ireland.
  • You should use dipped headlights during the day if visibility is poor.
  • The driver and all passengers must wear their seat belt. 
  • Children under 3 years old cannot travel in a car (other than a taxi), unless they are seated in an appropriate child restraint. They can travel in the front of the car as long as they are in a rear-facing seat and the airbag is switched off. Children over 3 who are less than 150cm tall and weigh less than 36kg must use an appropriate child restraint when travelling in a car that is fitted with seat belts. 
  • Ireland doesn’t have any fixed speed cameras — instead, they use mobile camera vans to catch speeding motorists. The use of radar detectors is prohibited.
  • Some level crossings have manual gates, which drivers must open and close themselves. 
  • A speeding tickets costs €80 in Ireland, rising to €120 if you don’t pay the fine within 28 days.
  • It is illegal to drive and use a mobile phone.