What should I legally carry in my car?

We take a look at what you should legally carry in your car...

It’s quite common knowledge that, in France, you have to carry certain items in your car. This is required by law.

However, are there any laws like this in the UK? There are a lot of driving laws that you should know, but some often get overlooked.

So, in this article, we look at what you need to legally carry in your car, and what we recommend you keep just in case.

Do I need to carry my driving licence?

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to carry your driving licence with you when you are driving. However, it is strongly recommended.

A Police Officer can ask to see your licence at any time and if you do not produce it immediately, then you will have to produce it to a Police Station within 7 days. If you don’t, then it’s an offence and you will be prosecuted.

What should I legally carry in my car

So, while it’s not illegal, it’s highly recommended. Most people have their licence with them in their wallet or purse anyway. However, if you lose your licence then it needs to be replaced straight away.

What should I do if I lose my driving licence?

If you have lost your licence, or it has been stolen or damaged, then you need to get it replaced immediately.

But don’t worry, getting it replaced is pretty straightforward. You can do it online with the DVLA. If you go here, you will be able to do it. You will have to do this as soon as possible. As we said above, you will only have 7 days to produce your licence if you are asked and it can take longer for your new licence to be delivered.

What documents do I need to carry in my car?

There aren’t any laws that require you to keep anything in your car. However, like your licence, there are things that you may need to produce should a Police Officer ask for it.

These include;

  • A valid insurance certificate
  • A valid MOT certificate

And if you cannot produce these when asked, you will have 7 days to produce them to a Police Station.

While it’s not compulsory, we recommend you having these in your car should the situation arise. It can’t hurt to be prepared for every situation when you are driving. And, being asked to show documents is one of them. It will make things much easier should you find yourself in that situation.

What do I do if I lose my MOT certificate?

person inspecting car engine

If you lose your MOT certificate then don’t panic. You can get a replacement certificate from any MOT testing station.

You will take your vehicle registration certificate (V5C or log book) to the testing station. This will have the details needed for reissue. You will be charged a fee, but this shouldn’t be any more than £10.

If you are stopped by the Police and asked to produce an MOT certificate and you don’t have it, then don’t worry. Your MOT can still be checked electronically via the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) database. This oversees all MOT testing. So the Police will be able to check on that.

What happens if I lose my insurance certificate?

You will have to ask your insurer for a duplicate certificate. Some companies will charge a fee, and this can be up to £30 a time. While it’s not something you might think of when looking at insurance policies, it wouldn’t hurt to ask how much it does cost to replace or change something on your insurance certificate. You can read more about online insurance quotes here.

What happens if I lose my log book?

If you lose your log book then you will have to apply for another copy. You can only do this if you are the registered keeper. You can read more about registered keepers here.

The replacement will cost you £25. If you want to apply by post you will need to fill in a V62 form. You can download this here, or pick one up from your local Post Office or DVLA Office. You can read more about your vehicle log book here.

Car on map

What safety equipment should I carry in my car?

Unlike France, we do not have any laws that require you to carry certain equipment in your car. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. Being prepared in the event of an accident or a break down is invaluable. While you hopefully will never need to use it, you’ll be glad you were prepared in the event you do.

So, no laws that require you to carry any equipment with you. However, you should have a few things in the event of an emergency. We recommend things such as;

  • A high visibility jacket
  • A hazard triangle
  • Spare tyre/jack
  • First aid kit
  • Mobile phone and charger
    • One of those old phones that have a long battery life will do, our smartphones aren’t built to last a break down
  • Water
  • Waterproofs
  • A road map
  • Details of your breakdown cover and insurance company details
  • A blanket
  • Non-perishable food
    • Things such as crisps or cereal bars
  • A torch
    • Preferably wind up unless you want to keep spare batteries in your car as well

So those are a few of the things we recommend you keeping in your car. We definitely recommend stocking your car up if you are doing a long journey or during the colder months. While you don’t have to have everything in your car all the time, having the essentials could prove invaluable.

In conclusion, there are no legal requirements for what you should carry in your car. However, if you fail to produce;

  • Your driving licence
  • Your MOT certificate
  • Your insurance certificate

When asked, then you have 7 days to produce these documents to a Police Station. So we do recommend that you keep these documents with you in your car at all times. If you lose any of these documents then they are easily replaceable, and we recommend you replace them as soon as possible.

There is no legal requirement for any safety equipment that you have to keep in your car. However, it’s always good to be prepared and having a standard safety kit in your car could prove useful should a break-down or an accident occur.

What happens if your lease car is in an accident? Find out here
Rachel Richardson


  • FredOnline| 12th November 2020 at 8:31 am Reply

    I had asked this question to various police forces on Twitter, but not one of them could be bothered to reply. The question is:

    I always carry my driving licence with me, but not the car insurance or MOT certificates, however I have copies of them saved as a PDF on my mobile ‘phone. Would showing this to the police be accepted as proof?

    • Rachel Richardson| 13th November 2020 at 8:57 am Reply

      Hi Fred,
      According to the Government website (https://www.gov.uk/legal-obligations-drivers-riders) it is the legal obligation of a driver to be able to present these documents. You have seven days following being stopped to take them to a police station. Reading into this, it is physical documents (likely because it’s considered easier to manipulate photographs). We hope this helps.

  • ricardo| 21st December 2019 at 3:03 am Reply

    this is kinda ridiculous..because I work in a petrol station and sometimes people come with an excuse “my card is home” “I don’t know where my card is” and in those cases there is usually a form to fill with customer information and they have a time gap to make the payment in debt. the point is, to fill that form we need an ID to confirm of details are true or false.. because there is a lot of scams happening with this issue.. and as nobody in this country has the obligation to carry any ID at all times, it is so hard for us to take care of these situations. in other hands, we can call the police and ask them to make the customer identify them selves but still, we can’t call the police all the time to identify someone.. in most countries in Europe there is a law obligating people to carry an ID/ driving license.. not to leave in car at night when unoccupied, but to carry it while driving..

    • Rachel Richardson| 2nd January 2020 at 9:14 am Reply

      Hi Ricardo,

      Thank you for your comment. Common sense would say that people carry their licence with them, however the law gives people 7 days to present their licences if they don’t have them in their possession if they are stopped. This doesn’t help in situations such as the one you outline, unfortunately.

  • Richard| 20th March 2019 at 5:21 am Reply

    Im sure that in the early 2000s a rule was passed which actually requires professional drivers to carry their driving licence, Unlike non professional drivers who have the option of 7days to produce their licence.
    The only info i can find is that of the road trafic act 1988 which states the 7day producer law. But like i said im sure a new rule was passed for professional drivers only to carry their licence. I hzve a really good memory and i know i havn’t dreamed this.

    • Rachel Richardson| 20th March 2019 at 10:55 am Reply

      Hi Richard,
      Having done some research the licence that this is referring to could be the private hire licence that is required by Taxis, further information on (specifically) London can be found here. Having searched on the Government website all drivers have 7 days in which to present their driver’s licence or other documentation to the police, however they have to be in physical possession at the time they are pulled over of their Taxi licence.

  • Veronica Woolf| 19th August 2018 at 4:14 pm Reply

    The insurance for my new car is being sent to me via email so if there is a query, I will always have it on my phone. I have found this very interesting and vital information for the car I have just bought.

  • David Thornton| 1st April 2018 at 1:49 am Reply

    The *police say, Not to carry MOT, Insurance or driving license in your car as these documents can be used if your car in stolen
    *Police Scotland

    • Abbie Rawcliffe| 9th April 2018 at 10:49 am Reply

      You should not leave documents in your car when it is unoccupied, however, if requested by a police officer you do need to provide evidence that the vehicle is insured and has had the necessary checks, thankfully now days normally the police can confirm insurance etc via the registration number

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