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Driving in Luxembourg – what are the rules?

It’s small, it’s hidden, and it’s often overlooked, but Luxembourg is a great place to visit. And its tiny land size means it’s brilliant for touring by road. Here’s what to check, for you and your car, before you drive there.

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At 2,586 sq km, Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in Europe. But that doesn’t mean is has nothing to offer.

Steeped in history that dates back to 963 AD this western European state – full name the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg – has architecture in abundance: fortified castles, medieval roads, museums, churches and ‘old towns’.

A founding member of the European Union (EU) and with its capital, Luxembourg City, a central hub for countless financial and legal institutions, the country might be small, but it’s an important part of the European continent.

The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ), the European Parliament, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) are all headquartered in Luxembourg and the country is also home to several UNESCO World Heritage sites, so it’s certainly not a backwater.

Away from city life there’s plenty to explore on the open road. Surrounded by France, Germany and Belgium at its borders, it can’t offer beaches and coastal roads, but the country makes up for that with some of the most stunning forestry in the world.

The Ardennes Forest runs through the Duchy before running into neighbouring France and Germany. Beautiful country roads wander through scenic and quaint villages that connect larger and interesting towns such as Differdange, Dudelange and Ettelbruck.

While Luxembourg isn’t necessarily the first country on a touring holidaymaker’s list, it is certainly worth considering visiting, and thousands of tourists from the UK and Europe take to the roads and drive there every year.

But if you are one of the UK motorists who does choose Luxembourgish roads when it comes to planning a vacation, you’ll need some careful organisation before going there. 

To get there you’ll have to motor through France or Belgium, but both of these countries offer wonderful roads on which to take your time, before arriving at your destination. Flying in and hiring a vehicle is another option and you’ll find a selection of car rental companies operating at Luxembourg Airport, 6km outside of Luxembourg City.

Driving in Luxembourg is a completely different experience from doing so in the UK. And that isn’t just because the Luxembourgers drive on a different side of the road from us. 

It’s much more than that and planning a driving holiday or taking your car to the Grand Duchy on business, requires careful planning and a good understanding of what you can, and can’t do behind the wheel while there.

This isn’t just for your safety and convenience. Getting on the wrong side of the local traffic police can mean on-the-spot fines, wheel-clamping or even confiscation of your car and its contents. So, it’s well worth spending some time planning your trip, and making sure you have everything in place for your Continental excursion.

Here The Car Expert looks at the most important elements to consider when planning to drive in Luxembourg, and we’ve included a handy checklist. As each journey is unique, always check that you have everything covered for your particular visit.

Basic rules

You must be 18 years or over to drive in Luxembourg and you should hold a full UK driving licence. Just the licence card will do, as the paper counterpart is no longer a requirement. International Driving Permits are also recognised.

You’ll need to prove that you have minimum third party car insurance cover for your vehicle so take your certificate with you (but you don’t need a European ‘green card’). You should always also carry with you documents that show the identity of your car, such as a V5C ‘logbook’. And always carry your personal ID or passport with you too – it can be easy to stray out of Luxembourg’s borders and into a neighbouring state.

Your vehicle’s ‘home country’ must be shown on it. A ‘UK’ sticker on the rear is one way to do this but you can also show a small UK badge on both number plates if you wish. The ‘GB’ badge is no longer allowed, even within European ‘golden stars’ and the same goes for country signs such as the English, Scottish or Welsh flags.

Speed limits

Speed limits are shown in kilometres (km/h) rather than miles (mph). In built-up areas the speed limit is 50 km/h (31 mph) while on more open roads the limit rises to 90 km/h (56 mph). Motorways have a 130 km/h (81 mph) limit, but this drops to 110 km/h (68 mph) if it is raining or snowing.

You are not allowed any kind of speed camera detection devices or equipment that could interfere with police cameras when driving on Luxembourg’s roads. The police take a dim view of these and confiscate them. You could also be handed a fine of up to 5000 Euro (£4000). 

If you are stopped for speeding in Luxembourg, you will likely get an on-the-spot fine. These range depending on the severity of your transgression. Exceed the maximum speed limit by less than 15 km/h in built-up areas or by less than 25 km/h on a motorway and you’ll get a 49 Euro (£40) fine. 

More serious speeding could bring a fine of 145 Euro (£125) but drive faster than that and the authorities will also start thinking about adding points to your licence. The best way is to watch for speed signs and stick to their limits.

Don’t ever use a mobile phone while driving unless it is ‘hands-free’.

Blood alcohol limits

We don’t recommend any drinking of alcohol if you are going to drive but it’s worth knowing the limits. The drink drive limit is 0.5 g/l (also shown as 0.5 milligrams) but for new drivers with less than two years’ experience, it’s even lower at 0.2 g/l. By comparison, it’s 0.8 g/l (0.8 milligrams) in England and Wales. Van drivers are also governed by the 0.2 g/l rule.

If there is any suspicion of drinking and driving by the police, you’ll probably be asked to take a breath test. There are fines for recording a positive test but if it’s more than 0.8 g/l you can be arrested and the fine will be increased.

What to carry in the car

You must have a warning triangle in your car in case of breakdown and the authorities expect you to have headlamp converters for your headlights (or have manually adjusted lamps) so you don’t dazzle on-coming drivers. It’s recommended to use dipped beams during the day.

It’s also a good idea to have a first aid kit, spare bulbs, a fire extinguisher, and a Hi-Viz reflective jacket in case you have to leave your car at the roadside. None of these is compulsory though.

Specialist suppliers, such as motoring organisations, sell ‘European driving kits’ for around £25, which contain everything you are likely to need for a Continental road trip, and it’s well worth investing in one. 

Seatbelt rules

Seatbelt rules are the same as in the UK: if your car has them, they must be worn. It’s the driver’s responsibility to make sure everyone is buckled up – there’s a 145 Euro (£125) fine for not using one. 

Children under 3 years old must be an appropriate child carrier. Those under 12 years old and less than 150 cm in height must be in an approved child seat in the front or back of the car. Minors who are over 150 cm tall may use adult seat belts.

Driving

Keep to the right-hand lane as much as possible but if you are overtaking do so on the left. If you come across a vehicle on a hill, the car coming up has priority. 

You will usually give way to vehicles on the ‘main’ road unless signs state otherwise. Stop or Give Way junctions are rarer than in some European countries; Luxembourg prefers the use of roundabouts. Buses have the right of way when they want to pull out and always give way to emergency vehicles as soon as you can safely. 

Horns should be used sparingly – indeed they are prohibited in major towns and built-up areas, unless in an emergency.

It can get cold and wintry in Luxembourg and if it snows, you will be expected to have the appropriate winter tyres fitted to your vehicle. 

If you are towing a trailer or caravan ensure that your car and the rig don’t exceed 18.75 metres in length, 4 metres in height and 2.55 metres in width. Make sure you can see clearly behind you with the use of two wide rear-view mirrors. 

Traffic signs

Traffic lights are red, amber and green and follow a similar pattern to the UK. There are spot fines for ignoring a red light. Road signs usually have pictures which are self-explanatory, except the stop sign which has the word ‘Stop’ in English. 

Mandatory instructions are usually blue circles with pictures, prohibiting signs are white circles with a red outline while warning signs are white triangles with the

red outline. Directional signs are generally blue or yellow with the town name written in Luxembourgish or French and the distance shown in kilometres.

Fuel availability

Super Plus 98 octane petrol (essence), Euro Super 95 octane (essence), Diesel (gazoil) and LPG liquefied petroleum gas (also shown as GPL) are all widely available on Luxembourg’s six motorways and main roads. There are also hundreds of EV (electric vehicle) charging points, most of them listed on mobile Apps.

Motorways in Luxembourg are toll free to use. 

Parking

As Luxembourg has a free public transport system in its towns and cities it’s no surprise that parking for cars that do enter the built-up areas will be expensive. There are some free parking arrangements available, but these will be on the outskirts of cities, encouraging visitors to take a bus into the centre.

The capital Luxembourg City is divided into different parking zones each with their own colour scheme. The colours represent the time allowed and therefore the price. Parking might be on-street or off-street (underground car parks) but make sure you read the signs carefully so that you understand how long you are allowed to stay, and pay accordingly.

If you do park on the street make sure you are facing the direction of traffic. Don’t park less than 5 metres from a pedestrian crossing or cycle crossing, 5 metres from an intersection, 12 metres from a bus or tram stop, or anywhere that the police are likely to consider an ‘obstruction’. 

Illegally parked cars can be clamped by the highly vigilant authorities unless they are obstructing traffic – in which case they will be towed away. There will be a fine to pay for a vehicle’s release plus costs for the towing.

Emergency number

In Luxembourg, as with most of Europe, you can dial 112 and make contact with emergency services such as fire, ambulance or police, 24 hours a day. Operators will speak English, French other European languages.

Checklist

Must haves:

  • Driving licence
  • Passport
  • Vehicle insurance
  • MOT certificate
  • V5 or vehicle ID
  • UK sticker or number plate markings
  • Warning triangle
  • Headlamp beam deflectors

Options:

  • Hi-Viz jackets
  • First aid kit
  • Spare bulb kit
  • Screen wash
  • Bottled water
  • Map or satnav
  • Phone power bank
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Torch
  • Fuel can

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Tom Johnston
Tom Johnstonhttp://johnstonmedia.com/
Tom Johnston was the first-ever reporter on national motoring magazine Auto Express. He went on to become that magazine’s News Editor and Assistant Editor, and has also been Motoring Correspondent for the Daily Star and contributor to the Daily and Sunday Express. Today, as a freelance writer, content creator and copy editor, Tom works with exciting and interesting websites and magazines on varied projects.