SOON Online Magazine

Visiting Britain

Before you arrive, try to obtain a good quality large scale road map. You will need a scale of 3 miles to 1 inch/2 kilometres to 1 cm. Try also to obtain other advice about road travel in Britain from a motoring organisation in your country.
We must remind you that in Britain (along with Japan and a few other countries),

We drive on the left!

Insurance and breakdown cover

If you are bringing a car to Britain, be sure that your insurance covers you to travel in Britain. You may need to obtain an extra certificate from your insurance company. Make sure that you bring all your insurance papers with you.

It would be sensible to have breakdown cover for your visit. If you do not have this, arrange it with your own motoring organisation or breakdown organisation.
Check that it covers you for a visit to Britain.
Check if they will bring your car home if it cannot be repaired in the UK, and give you a replacement car for the rest of your holiday

PetrolPrices - Breakdown cover
lists prices and policy details from all the breakdown providers as well as information on choosing the most suitable cover.

Breakdown cover - services
Breakdown cover - car-warranty
Breakdown cover - car insurance
lists breakdown cover service and car insurance in the UK.


Driving licence rules and using your driving licence in the UK

Please contact the British Commission in your country to find the rules which apply to your country for driving on an International licence in the UK.

For more details or updates on the rules, you should be able to also contact a driving association in your country, the AA or RAC in the UK, or the government licence authority in the UK:

SA99 1BN,


There is a good motorway network. Motorways are shown by 'M' plus number. There is no 'toll charge' to pay on British motorways, except the M4 Severn Bridge into Wales, the Humber bridge near Hull, and the M25 Dartford Tunnel.

You must NOT STOP on a motorway, except in an emergency

Some parts of the motorway system can be very busy. In particular, AVOID the M25 'London orbital' and M5/M6 in Birmingham, and motorways near city centres at rush-hour times!

As a guide, the 'rush hour' is about 08:00 to 09:30 and 16:30 to 18:00. Definitely avoid these times if possible.

In Britain, all distances and speed limits are shown in miles and miles per hour. A kilometre is 0.62 of a mile, and a mile is 1.62 kilometres.

Speed limits are usually:-

  1. 30 miles per hour (48kph) in towns and built up areas
  2. 40mph (65kph) on some town roads where shown
  3. 60mph (97kph) on most 'single carriageway' (2-way) roads
  4. 70mph (113kph) on 'dual carriageways' and motorways.

In areas of extra danger from driving at the wrong speed you may find 'SPEED CAMERAS' installed. These take a photograph of any car exceeding the speed limit and can be traced by the police. You will see a camera symbol on entering these areas

Cameras may also be installed at some traffic lights to catch anyone who goes over at 'RED'.

All motorways have emergency telephones every kilometre. There are markers every tenth of a Km. which also point to the nearest phone. The phone operator will obtain breakdown rescue or the emergency services. (If you don't have breakdown cover, it will cost a lot of money to be rescued.) Park as near to the edge of the 'hard shoulder' as possible.

It is safer to wait outside the car, on the grass banks as far away from the traffic lanes as possible.

You must not stop on a motorway, except in an emergency.

Traffic rules

Road signs are usually the standard international signs. Buy a 'Highway Code' for about £1. This is essential for driving in Britain. Many shops (including at airports) sell it.

At roundabouts, traffic coming from the right has priority. You may only overtake other vehicles on the right.

Make sure that you understand parking restrictions, and what 'double yellow lines' and 'single yellow lines' mean.

Parking in the centre of most big towns is difficult or expensive. Parking in central London is very difficult. We suggest that you do not even attempt to travel round London by car if this is your first visit! Use the underground trains or buses.

If you really wish to drive and park in London, buy a copy of "THE ROUGH GUIDE TO LONDON", available from bookshops, newspaper shops, and petrol stations.
There is also information on airport parking.


Unleaded petrol and diesel ('derv') are of similar price.
Four-star (leaded) petrol is not now on sale in the UK and has been withdrawn from petrol stations, however, some are licensed to sell a special alternative to "Leaded Petrol" for older cars
Be careful at garage pumps where often all grades of fuel are available from the same pump, selection being by different pipes.
It is also possible to get a "super" unleaded grade for specific design engines, this is more expensive and a waste for most engines.
  • the green filler pipe is unleaded petrol
  • the red filler pipe is 'leaded replacement' petrol
  • and the black filler pipe is for diesel.

It is easy to fill up a petrol car with diesel by mistake! Your writer did it once!

Petrol and diesel prices are not fixed, as in some countries, so price varies between garages.

Petrol is often cheapest at supermarkets. Motorway service stations are often more expensive, though this is not always true.

Expect to pay (winter 2004/2005 prices) about £0.84 to 0.88 per litre for unleaded petrol, about £0.85 to 89 per litre for diesel. Leaded petrol is not available in the UK, a special alternative is available at some licensed garages.

Please note that in Britain, motorway service stations are occasionally many miles apart, usually they are approximately every 25 miles but occasionally as far as 50 miles apart.

UK Traveline
Maps and travel information.

Car Hire

Solus Vehicle Rentals
This company specifically is for the Malaysian market, relating to Car Hire for inbound travellers to the United Kingdom.

Dollar Rent A Car
Great car rentals at affordable rates - for the American market

Thrifty Car Rental
Thrifty Car Rental- One of your best choices for competitive car rental prices - for the American market.

Sixt rent a car
German car rental since 1912 at cheap rates

Cheap Car Hire
CleverHire specialising in Car Hire/Rental for International travelers coming to the United Kingdom.

Car Hire UK
Car Hire UK COMPARE 19 of the World’s Best Car Hire Companies guaranteed best prices. Fast Quote. You can be sure we can find you the cheapest car hire quote!

Prestige Car Hire

Car and van hire
Car and van hire across 165 locations in the UK

British car hire
specialise in Cars, Vans and Minibuses and in particular one way rentals between UK locations. Customers can book easily and only online

Get car hire
Car hire rates from just £7 per day. Easily compare and find the best car hire deals across the United Kingdom today

Camper Hire

There is a list of companies in UK who hire motor-caravans (campers). We cannot recommend any particular company.

Licence requirements

All car hire companies require that you have had a full driving licence for at least one year. Some may ask for two years, especially for younger drivers. Your own country licence is valid in UK – see our section on licences. But we strongly recommend that you bring an International Driving Licence too especially if yours is not in English.

Age limits – younger and older drivers

Younger drivers

Most car hire companies will not hire a car to someone under 25. There are a few who have an age limit of 23.
We have listed companies who we believe are normally prepared to hire to people of 21 and over.

There are probably other small local car hire companies which will hire a vehicle to people from age 21.

We believe that this list is correct at the time of writing. But please do not assume all the facts are still correct, without checking yourself. Things can change. Also remember that big hire companies, with offices in many countries, may have different age limits in other countries.

Older drivers

Many car companies will not automatically hire to people over 70. Some may go over this limit providing you have a clean licence, and perhaps a doctor’s letter of good health. Other companies have a limit of 75, but there are some with no age limit at all. We have given top age limits in the section above, for young drivers.

Please remember:

  • They may ask for a larger money deposit for young drivers.
  • They will only hire small cars to young drivers.
  • Some ask for an extra insurance payment – as much as £15 per day.
  • They may require that you have had a full driving licence for two years, not one year.
  • They will almost certainly require that you have a ‘clean’ licence – no legal convictions for breaking traffic laws.
  • It is strongly advised to bring BOTH your ordinary driving licence AND an International Driving Licence.
  • They may insist that the deposit or hire charge is made by credit card.
  • When you enquire, do check all these details. If you are an overseas visitor, make sure that they understand what country you come from, your age, and other details.

National Companies with many bases hiring to age 21 and older drivers

The phone numbers are given with the UK +44 country code.
When phoning from outside UK, dial ‘44’, but not the ‘0’.
When dialling from inside UK, do not use ‘44’, but use ‘0’ to start the area code.
Alamo Rent-A-Car tel: +44 (0)990 997000 (In UK only, freephone 0800 272200)
Extra insurance for under 25s: £15 per day, must pay deposit by credit card. No top age limit. You may find it cheaper to book from abroad for this company.
British Car Rental tel: +44 (0)1203 716166
Extra insurance for under 25s: £5 a day. Will not hire to under 23s. Top age limit 70, or 75 with doctor’s letter.
National Car Rental, tel: +44 (0)990 565656
Extra insurance for under 25s: £12 a day.Under 25s cannot hire an automatic car. Top age limit 75.
Kennings, tel: +44 (0)1246 208888
Under 25s: no extra insurance charge. Top age limit 76.
Smith Self Drive, tel: +44 (0)1709 853566 (In UK only, freephone 0800 387446)
Under 25s: No hire available. Top age limit 75.

Small companies with one base. Hiring from age 21 to 70 and over

Adeva Vehicle Rentals Ltd
30 Bumpers Lane
Sealand Industrial Estate
Tel: 01244 383111
Fax: 01244 373755
Car hire available to 21 year olds.

Arden Garages, Stratford-upon-Avon, tel: +44 (0)1789 267446
Under 25s: no extra insurance charge, but must have held clean licence for 2 years. Top age limit 70.

OX26 4XD
FAX :-01869324335

Bicester Vehicle Rentals are very experienced in the the provision of car hire for the American visitor and currently provide car hire to THE RAF CROUGHTON near Brackley Northants.

Central, Eastbourne, tel: +44 (0)1323 6401010
Under 25's: extra insurance charge, depending on age. Top age limit 73.

Greenhalg, St Leonards on Sea, tel +44 (0)1424 420370
Under 25s: extra insurance charge £3 a day, normal upper age limit 70, over 70 on ‘case by case’ basis.

H G Self Drive, Bath, tel: +44 (0)1225 833338
Under 25s: extra insurance charge £3 a day, normal upper age limit 70, over 70 on ‘case by case’ basis.

Miles and Miles, London SW7, tel: +44 (0)171 591 0555
Under 25s: no extra insurance charge, upper age limit 70.

Renault Rental, London W3, tel: +44 (0)181 752 2326
Under 25s: no extra insurance charge, but only for the small Renault ‘Clio’. Upper age limit 70.

Enterprise Rent-a-Car
tel: UK - 0870 350 3000
All drivers must be 21 years of age or older. Young driver fee applicable to renters under 25 years old.

London Car Hire
Compare Car Hire in the UK and car rental in London, Heathrow Airport, Gatwick, Glasgow, Manchester, Stansted Airport, Dublin and all cities across England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Nice and France.

Other hirers for older drivers

We understand that the following large national car hire companies have no upper age limit:

AVIS, tel: +44 (0)990 900500

BUDGET, tel: +44 (0)541 565656

HERTZ, tel: +44 (0)990 6699

There is a web listing of smaller car hire companies, giving name, phone, and fax numbers, but no other information. You may find more companies in other UK tourist sites, or the web yellow pages. Search engines can help you find more listings. Try UK Yahoo to start with. Plus printed UK Yellow Pages if you can find them in a reference library. You may also like to check The Industrial Directory of YELLOWPAGES.COM
MacRAE'S BLUE BOOK has recently become the Industrial Directory of YELLOWPAGES.COM. Owned by BellSouth and AT & T, YELLOWPAGES.COM is the fastest growing online and search directory in the U.S., serving over 70 million searches a month across their network.

General advice

They will ask that you have had a full driving licence for at least one year.
Your own country licence is valid for you as a visitor. You must show it.
See our advice above about licences.
It is better to obtain an International Driving Licence before your visit.

Large hire companies, especially those with offices in different countries, can arrange for a hire car to be waiting for you at an airport. However, it costs more to collect a car from an airport, than a central town office, even from the same car company! It is also possible to arrange for cars to be collected from main railways stations.

Large car hire companies are usually more expensive than the smaller companies that you may find in the telephone Yellow Pages under 'Car Hire'. However, larger companies may offer better, newer cars and some may even offer the option of returning the car to a different depot to the one you initially started from, some will even offer collecting directly from an airport or main railway station.

Expect to pay per week, depending upon hire company and facilities offered, between £100 and £180 for a small car or £150 and £220 for a medium size car. (1997 prices)

It is the law in the UK that seat belts are used. If you have children, make sure that the correct seat belts or car seats are available before you hire.

Make sure that you understand the terms of the contract in advance.

1) Is the hire price for 'unlimited travel'?
Or will you pay extra for the distance travelled?
Does it have any restrictions on parts of the UK? eg Northern or Sourthern Ireland. (The cost of ferries would probably make it cheaper to hire a car over in Ireland)
Do NOT take a car hired in Britain to continental Europe without agreement with the hire company. An extra "Green Card" insurance certificate is needed for this. You will also be required to have form VE 103 with you, when travelling in Europe.

2) Make sure that breakdown cover is included.
Ensure that you understand what to do if you have a breakdown, what telephone numbers to call.
What will happen if the car cannot be repaired quickly? Do they supply an alternative car?

3) What is the procedure if you have an accident?
Is there a minimum "excess" which you have to pay if involved in an accident.
Are there any risks which are not covered, such as damaged tyres.

4) It is normal that only the named person on the agreement is allowed to drive.
If you wish for more than one nominated person to drive, ensure that it is agreed in writing.
DO NOT let anyone drive the car who is not named and agreed by the hire company.

5) You may be asked about your accident record in your own country.
Be truthful about this.
If you give incorrect information, then have an accident in the UK, it is very possible that the insurance company will not pay for the damage etc. if they discover that you have failed to supply the correct information.

6) When you collect the vehicle initially, inspect for any faults or damage before accepting it.
You will probably be asked to sign an inspection sheet, ensure any faults or damage are listed. On returning the car, have a member of the hire company inspect it in your presence, and have their written confirmation of the state of the vehicle, any faults and any damage, new or originally present.
7) Ensure you have all the necessary documentation, especially your driving licence
Please see details on licences earlier on this page.
8) READ the "Small print" - the terms of the hire agreement - BEFORE SIGNING

Car hire companies will ask for a deposit.

If you pay for this by credit card, make sure that only the correct amount is deducted at the end of the hire period.
In some countries, it has been known that car hire companies add 'extras' to the credit card bill after you go home! It should not happen in the UK but beware!! It may be better for you to pay the deposit another way! - However, many companies will insist that overseas visitors pay by credit card.

One general word of warning on paying for a car hire or accommodation deposit by credit card. Hire companies or hotels are permitted to reserve, from the credit company, an amount of money they feel will cover themselves. Although this money is not actually taken from your account, it is added to your credit card balance until the full payment is made. It is therefore possible for you to exceed your credit limit, preventing further use of the card.
It is recommended that before travelling, you enquire about increasing your credit limit for the period of the holiday, in an attempt to reduce this risk.


Sadly, the time has long gone when we could all hitch-hike around Europe without a worry in the world. There is a small risk for any hitch-hiker - but girls - please never do it, not even in a group of two or three girls.

Having said that, British drivers are often happy to give lifts.
Do not attempt to obtain a lift where vehicles are not allowed to stop, Motorway entrance and exit are especially dangerous.
Make sure you have a road map and plan your route ahead.

In another part of this Online Magazine, we look at why and how there is such evil in this world.

Return to Visiting Britain page

Return to top of page

More information on visiting Britain

Britain Home page
Where to go
Students and young people under 26
How to find more information
Where to stay
Rail and bus travel
Air travel and arriving by air
Visiting London ­ where to go and how to travel
Money exchange and currency
Visa requirements
Theatre, music and ballet
Cheap ways to visit historic houses, castles etc.

Back to previous page

Other links you might like to look at:-

(You will have to use your browser 'back key' to return to this page.)

Learning English?
Advise on learning English
Message from the Stars
Problems of life
Got a problem? We may have the answer
A News story you did not hear
Did man really do this?
Thought for the day:

These are true words and everyone should believe them. 'Christ Jesus came into the world to save bad people.' And I am the worst of all.

                                                   1 Timothy Chap.1v15



is just one section of the
learning English, problem page, 'life and how to survive it',
true stories, interviews, and much more.

Camper Van (Motor Caravan) Hire

There are a number of companies in UK and Ireland which hire Motor Caravans. We have no information about prices, or any recommendations about quality of service of any of these companies.
If you hire a motor caravan, you should be aware that many country roads in UK are smaller and narrower than roads in for example, North America. So if you hire a large van, you may find difficulty on small roads. Also note that on very large campers you may need a special licence.
In popular holiday areas, there may be restrictions on overnight parking in car parks or a road ‘layby’. In quieter areas however, it may be acceptable to find some quiet area to park. Camping and caravan sites will usually offer space for motor caravans, for a reasonable daily price without advance booking.
Other companies are listed in the following specialist UK magazines: Motorcaravan Motorhome Monthly, Motor Caravan Monthly, Which Motorcaravan, and Motorhome Monthly.
Companies are listed below, by county area for England, plus Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland (the Irish Republic). When telephoning from outside UK, you should first dial your international access code, then the UK country code 44, then the telephone number shown without the first '0’ shown in brackets. (The Irish Republic company already is shown with its international country code.)


Crooklands Self Drive Motorhomes
Near Kendal
Tel: +44 (0)15395 67414
Return to "Car Hire" Section


McMullin Motors
Lakeside Garage
Tel: +44 (0)1752 401804
Fax: +44 (0)1752 481482

Vanquest Workshop address
The Old Gas Works
Nutaberry Hill
EX39 4EA
Mobile: +44 (0) 7980148070
Tel: +44 (0) 1237 478732
Leisure Rentals
26 Keyham Road
Plymouth PL2 1QX
Tel: +44 (0)1752 607082
Return to "Car Hire" Section


Marquis Motorhome Centre
41-45 Old Wareham Road
BH12 4QN
Tel: +44 (0)1202 738777
Fax: +44 (0)1202 738778
Return to "Car Hire" Section


5-7 Broadway Parade
Elm Park Ave
RM12 4RS
Tel: +44 (0)1708 443782
Fax: +44 (0)1708 455880
Return to "Car Hire" Section

Greater London

Turners of London
11 Barry Road
East Dulwich
London SE22 OHZ
Tel: +44 (0)181 693 1132
Fax: +44 (0)181 693 1134

Leighway Hire
246 Chertsey Lane
TW18 3NF
Tel: +44 (0)1784 455073
Fax: +44 (0)1784 458014
Motorhome Rentals Ltd
37-39 Upper Halliford Road
TW17 8RX
Tel: +44 (0)1932 770765
Fax: +44 (0)1932 770768
Return to "Car Hire" Section

Greater Manchester

Home 'N’ Away
Unit 1, 28 Southall Street
M3 1LG
Tel: +44 (0)161 832 1199
Fax: +44 (0)161 832 2299


Tilshead Caravans
Stockbridge Road
Tel. 01980 863636
Fax. 01980 861001
24 hr BrochureLine Tel. 01980 861000
Marquis Motorhome Centre
Winchester Road
Lower Upham
nr Southampton
Tel: +44 (0)1489 860666
Fax: +44 (0)1489 860752
Return to "Car Hire" Section


Bowers Motor Caravans
Kinsbourne Green
Tel: +44 (0)1582 713094
Fax: +44 (0)1582 462563


Margate Motor Caravan Centre
Addiscome Road
Tel: +44 (0)1843 291456
Return to "Car Hire" Section


Becks Garage
Martham Road
Great Yarmouth
NR29 5DR
Tel: +44 (0)1493 740274
Fax: +44 (0)1493 748340
Fundays Motorhome and Caravan Hire
Fundays Hire
The Bungalow
Malthouse Lane
NR20 5NT
Tel. 01362 680118
Mobile 07979 307052
Return to "Car Hire" Section


RDH International
2 Castle View
Lilac Grove
NG98 1PF
Tel: +44 (0)115 925 0747
Fax: +44 (0)115 943 6092


West Country Motorhomes
Turnpike Road
Lower Weare
Nr. Axbridge
BS26 2JG
Tel: +44 (0)1934 732503
Fax: +44 (0)1934 733246
Return to "Car Hire" Section


Malcolm's Motorhomes
555 High Street
Stoke on Trent
Tel/fax: +44 (0)1782 821212
Return to "Car Hire" Section


Southern Cross Motorhome Centre
Pantiles Park
London Road
GU19 5HN
Tel: +44 (0)1276 452111
Fax: +44 (0)1276 452888

Asta Moors Ltd
100/106 Church Road
KT15 1SG
Tel: +44 (0)1932 856555
Fax: +44 (0)1932 843414
56 Middle Street
Tel: +44 (0)1737 842735
Return to "Car Hire" Section


Stewart Mouland
South Coast Road
BN10 7ET
Tel: +44 (0)1273 587229
Fax: +44 (0)1273 588064
Marquis Motor Homes
DD Motorhomes
Eastbourne Road
Golden Cross
BN27 4AN
Tel: +44 (0)1825 873131
Fax: +44 (0)1825 873152
Return to "Car Hire" Section


Midland International
Wall Hill Road
Tel: +44 (0)1203 336411
Fax: +44 (0)1203 338007


Derek Farmer Motorhomes Ltd
Norton Canes Business Park
Walsall Road
Norton Canes
West Midlands
WS11 3UH
Tel: +44 (0)1384 422344
Fax: +44 (0)1384 422344
Return to "Car Hire" Section


Tilshead Caravans
Stockbridge Road
Tel. 01980 863636
Fax. 01980 861001
24 hr BrochureLine Tel. 01980 861000
Return to "Car Hire" Section


Jim Neary Self-Drive
15 Fairley Street
G51 2SN
Tel: +44 (0)141 427 5475

Cloch Road
PA19 1BA
Tel: +44 (0)1475 638775

S & H Caravans
Unit 3
Hamilton Road Industrial Estate
ML10 6UB
Tel: +44 (0)1357 29422/21212
Fax: +44 (0)1357 29627

Strathaven Motor Caravan Centre
Darvel Road
ML10 6QD
Tel: +44 (0)1357 522444
Fax: +44 (0)1357 522252
Sharps Motorhomes
Highland Rail House
Station Square
Academy Street
Inverness IV1 1LE
Tel: +44 (0)1463 236694
Fax: +44 (0)1463 713777

Brown‘s Motorcaravan Hire
Garrion Bridge
Nr Larkhall
Tel: +44 (0)1698 886255
Fax: +44 (0)1698 886255

Highlander Holidays
PO Box 1
PH16 5DG
Tel: +44 (0)1796 472556
Return to "Car Hire" Section


Rolling Motor Caravan Hire
Cwm Bach
SA42 3BW
Tel: +44 (0)1239 881222
Return to "Car Hire" Section

Northern Ireland

Baird Caravans
17 Longlands Road
BT36 7LX
Tel: +44 (0)1232 365055
Fax: +44 (0)1232 365956
Motorhome Ireland
8 Station Road
BT24 7DU
Tel/fax: +44 (0)1238 519519

Southern Ireland (Eire/Irish Republic)

Cara Rent-a-car
Ennis Road
Tel: +353 61 455811
Fax: +353 61 455369

Return to "Car Hire" Section

Return to Learning English contents page

SOON ONLINE magazine contents page

Back to previous page



is just one section of the
learning English, problem page, 'life and how to survive it',
true stories, interviews, and much more.

Return to Learning English contents page

SOON ONLINE magazine contents page

Back to previous page

©copyright SOON Ministries
Contact us