As defining words and other symbolism go, strawberries and cream, centre court, deuce and plenty of grunting are usually joined by frustrating summer rain and ponchos when it comes to Wimbledon. Not so this year, though, with 2018 heralding Britain’s longest heatwave since 1976, the year Brazilian football ace Ronaldo was born.

Work trip on the cards or planning a pre-Brexit roadtrip?

Still, even if Blighty has been feeling rather Mediterranean for a few weeks now, plenty of people have got pre-booked holidays and business trips lined up on the continent, begging the question of whether it’s possible to drive a car leased on business or personal contract hire (PCH) out of the UK and into Europe without incurring much bother. Each year, over 4 million British drivers take their lease cars to Europe, with the ever-growing popularity of personal contract hire (PCH) expected to see the throng swell even further over the next few years.

As easy as 103

Good news, it usually is possible to painlessly take a lease car outside the UK into Europe and possibly certain other countries. Anyone who owns a car and has got the same cunning plan in mind would need to take the V5C logbook with them, but contract hire vehicles are owned by the finance company such as Arval, Lex Autolease or LeasePlan, who will keep hold of the V5C Vehicle Registration Document (VRD). Fortunately, the DVLA allows drivers of leased cars to take them on their overseas jollies or business journeys if they take along a couple of pieces of substitute paperwork.

The first one is called a VE103 ‘vehicle on hire certificate’, which is the driver’s responsibility to obtain directly from the finance company. If anyone contacts the broker who arranged the lease, like Vehicle Consulting, they will be gently nudged back in the finance company’s direction. Fortunately, they make it a doddle to request a VE103 just by completing a straightforward form or calling a hotline, examples including:

  • ALD Automotive, who direct drivers to contact them by phone on 03700 011 181 or email them via their website to obtain the paperwork for driving the lease car abroad
  • Arval, from whom leasing customers can request an Overseas Pack including the VE103 document by calling the driver contact centre on 0370 600 4499 and selecting option 4
  • Citroen’s contract motoring division who say speak to their vehicle administration department on 0845 313 3808 or email them
  • Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions, whose team can be contacted on 03331 309 134 or online
  • LeasePlan (a Network brand), who advise lease drivers to phone their Go DriverLine on 0344 493 7659 and select the Foreign Travel option. They charge £12.40 inc. VAT for providing the documents, but it’s worth noting that LeasePlan Go Assist Europe breakdown cover is automatically included on all the firm’s PCH lease contracts, covering Continental Europe, Mediterranean Islands like Crete, Ibiza and Mallorca, plus Turkey and Eire
  • Lex Autolease with their European Travel Documents online application page and European travel line, the number for which is provided on the Driver Card they issue with leases
  • Mercedes Benz Finance, who direct their lease car drivers to call customer services on the number 0370 847 0700.

To save anyone getting confused, it means the same thing if a finance company or other organisation like the BVRLA or RAC (who can both also actually provide the form) refers to VE103B, VE103R, a ‘VE103 Foreign Travel Authority certificate’ as Audi Finance calls it (which allows up to 60 days’ driving in Europe), or some other pet name.

Last minute isn’t cool

Requesting a VE103 should ideally be done 14 days or 2 weeks before the lease car is to be driven outside the UK, which is the recommended time period advised by most finance companies, but Arval specifies 28 days and ALD Automotive 21 days to be on the safe side, some customers apparently having ended up red-faced by turning up at the ferry terminal or port unaware that this paperwork is legally required before they can leave the UK in their vehicles.

Likewise, it’s daft to request a VE103 certificate just on the off-chance that a foreign road trip may come about, as they’re valid for one year following the date of issue, and most finance companies place time limits on how long their lease cars can be driven outside the UK, examples including Audi Finance at 60 days and Lex at 30 in any one period.

What about fleet managers and company car drivers?

Fleet management companies looking after lease contracts and the associated cars and vans for their end clients are typically authorised by the BVRLA regulatory body to issue VE103B certificates on clients’ behalves as long as the DVLA has the correct registered keeper identified, the fleet manager assumes the registered keeper address, and the correct express permission has been provably given. Have a gander at the information on the BVRLA’s website to fully brush up on employees taking company cars abroad.

The second piece of paperwork to take along when driving a lease car outside the UK is a letter of authorisation from the finance company stating clearly that they have given permission for the vehicle to be driven abroad. It’ll usually be issued at the same time as part of each funder’s overseas driving process.

Other stuff that needs taking along when driving abroad in many European countries

  • Full UK driving licence – the photocard plus the paper counterpart for anyone who’s still got one
  • A GB sticker to display on the outside of the lease car, unless it’s fitted with European-style registration plates already
  • Fully comprehensive motor insurance certificate
  • Headlight converters, depending on the country
  • Warning triangle, again required by most countries
  • Reflective jacket, accessible without leaving the car
  • First aid kit
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Backup glasses or contact lenses if relevant
  • Snow chains or winter tyres, depending on the season
  • Breathalyser
  • Motorway sticker in some countries
  • Crit’Air Certificate for certain cities in France, relating to emissions and air pollution
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Vehicle tax and MoT (not relevant for most lease cars)
  • Passport as proof of ID, ideally along with National Insurance number

Wise words from our regulators

“We believe thousands of motorists could inadvertently flout European legislation when driving across the Channel this year by travelling without the correct documentation”, commented the BVRLA as part of their summer getaway reminder for 2018.

The organisation adds: “Checking arrangements for European breakdown cover is crucial for drivers because repair costs can easily spiral and it is also essential that drivers have fully comprehensive insurance cover for their trip. If in doubt, speak with your leasing provider or rental company and they will provide you with all the information you will need for a safe and compliant trip to Europe this summer.”

Ideal cars for European corporate or leisure road trips

Now, as much as it’d be heavenly to pootle (ahem) around Europe in something fruity like a BMW M4 Convertible, it’d be no fun not being able to drive back home with tacky souvenirs in tow from straw donkeys and Turkish carpets to Roman helmets and pongy camembert. For sheer boot space, comfort and practicality, very little beats the Audi Q7 or cheaper but by no means lacking SKODA Kodiaq. Estates are a great choice, too.

Business leasing and personal contract hire packages typically specify a maximum number of miles that can be driven each year, so before booking the ferry or Eurotunnel le shuttle it’s definitely best to check that the applicable mileage limit won’t end up getting exceeded and pence-per-mile fees being incurred.

From all the team at Vehicle Consulting, we wish anyone heading outside the UK in their lease car this year an enjoyable and safe time.