Hire a car or bring your own for your holiday to Scotland - you can set your own pace and take in the magical scenery as you go!

But, you need to know all the driving rules and advice before you hit the open road…

Vehicles

If you're bringing your own car, you'll need:

  • Vehicle registration or ownership documents with you at all times.
  • Insurance - every driver on the road in Scotland must have at least third-party insurance cover.
  • If you're going to be here for more than six months (during a 12 month period), you'll need to be aware of rules on number plates that have symbols not used in the UK.

Licence

  • If you're coming from a European Union country - as long as you have a valid licence, you can drive in Scotland.
  • If you're coming from outside the EU - as long as you have a valid licence from your own country, you can drive in the UK for up to 12 months.

Check you are eligible to drive in Scotland.

Speed limits

These are often signposted - look out for a circular sign, with a red border and number (reflects miles per hour). If there's no signpost, national speed limits apply.

Motorways

  • 70 mph (112 km/h) for cars, coaches and minibuses
  • 60 mph (96 km/h) for cars towing caravans or trailers and lorries

Dual carriageways

  • 70 mph (112 km/h) for cars
  • 60 mph (96 km/h) for cars towing caravans, trailers, buses, coaches, lorries and minibuses

Built-up areas

  • 30 mph (48 km/h)
  • It's quite common around residential areas and particularly near schools, for a clearly signposted 20 mph (32 km/h) maximum speed limit

Outside built-up areas

  • 60 mph (96 km/h) for cars
  • 50 mph (80 km/h) for buses, coaches, minibuses and cars towing caravans or trailers.

Fuel

  • Petrol stations provide unleaded petrol and diesel. Fuel is priced by the litre. 
  • As well as LPG (or Autogas) you can find Bio-Diesel filling stations and Electric Vehicle Charging stations (or EVCs) on the LPG website.
  • In the cities, you'll often find 24-hour access at fuel stations.
  • In the countryside, there are fewer fuel stations, so it's best to keep your vehicle topped up if travelling in remote areas.

Drinking and driving 

Road Skipness Arran background

Driving under the influence of alcohol is taken very seriously in Scotland and the UK and there can be heavy penalties for those found to be above the legal blood/alcohol limit.

As of 5 December 2014, the legal limit has been lowered to 50 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood (from 80 mg of alcohol).  

Other useful information

  • Generally, roads tend to be busier around towns and cities during morning and evening rush hours - generally from 7.30-9.30am and 4-6.30pm.
  • There are no toll roads or bridges in Scotland.
  • Roundabouts are commonly used - give way to vehicles from your right, and turn left on entering the roundabout.
  • Bus lanes are used in some cities - they can only be used by buses and taxis when in operation at certain times of the day.
  • Some rural roads are single lane, but have passing places so traffic in opposite directions can pass safely. Check the UK Highway Code for more information.
  • You might encounter some farm animals or wildlife on rural roads so always take care.
  • Seatbelts are compulsory for all drivers and passengers in the vehicle.
  • Children under 12 who are under 135 cm (4 ft 5 in) tall should use a child seat appropriate for their weight. You can order one through the hire company.
  • It is illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving. You must also have proper control while using hands-free. 

Find out more information on driver responsibilities and the law.