drive in Europe – Which one? New

Whether you’re taking your own car on vacation or opting for a rental, bringing your dash cam can be a valuable safety net in the event of an accident or incident. It’s not that simple, however.

Just as the rules of the road change from country to country across Europe, so do the rules on dash cams. Laws on recording in public, filming people without their permission, and using on-board electronics have no defined European regulations and are instead left to individual national governments.

The UK has some of the most relaxed rules in the world when it comes to regulations that can affect your dash cam, but that can all change once you get to the continent. Before you go, read on to find out the rules for your vacation destination.

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Where is it totally legal to use a dash cam?

First of all, the good news. You can both own and use a dash cam in any of these European countries without any restrictions:

  • Bosnia herzegovina
  • Denmark
  • Italy
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Serbia
  • Spain
  • Sweden

However, things are not that simple everywhere. The following countries all have some sort of restriction on the use of the dash cam, ranging from the position of its installation to an outright ban:

Austria

Status: Forbidden

Using a dash cam in Austria is illegal, period. Primary offenders will be slapped with a massive fine of € 10,000, and repeat offenders a fine of € 25,000. In fact, it’s not even legal to own a dash cam. Make sure to leave yours behind if you plan to make it there on your trip.

Belgium

Status: Legal, with conditions

Belgium is much more relaxed than Austria on the issue. You can both own and use one, but only for “private use”. What this means for drivers is that if you are involved in an incident, you will need to notify all other parties before submitting the footage as evidence.

France

Status: Legal, with conditions

France’s dashboard camera laws are largely similar to those in the UK, in that there are rules on where dashboard cameras can be placed in the vehicle: they cannot obstruct the driver’s view. Like its smaller Belgian neighbor, France also limits dash cams to “private use” – in this case, that means you can’t download the footage from the internet. If you are recording evidence, make sure it goes straight to the police.

Germany

Status: Legal, with conditions

Germany may be famous for its demarcated ‘highway’ which allows motorists to drive largely at will, but it still saw fit to impose some restrictions on the use of dash cameras. Like France and the UK, it should be placed so that it does not obstruct the driver’s view. In accordance with the country’s strict privacy laws, any footage shared publicly must have obscured faces and license plates (in fact, ideally, they shouldn’t be recorded at all).

Luxembourg

Status: Forbidden

Head to the south of Belgium, and the rules don’t change that much. Although at least owning a dash cam is allowed in Luxembourg, using one is still totally illegal. Make sure it stays in the glove box for the duration of your stay there.

Norway

Status: Legal, with conditions

Norway is probably the country in mainland Europe whose rules are most similar to those of the United Kingdom. Its only regulation on dash cameras is that it is installed out of the driver’s sight.

Portugal

Status: Forbidden

It may be completely legal to use a dash cam on your journey through Spain to get there, but once you get to Portugal it is not legal to own or d ‘use a dash cam, so leave yours at home if you are driving there.

Switzerland

Status: Legal, but strongly conditional

Keeping the more complex for last, using the dash cam is a very muddy area in Switzerland. Although they are legal in theory, it is virtually impossible to use them while obeying strict Swiss data protection laws.

For starters, they can never be used just for entertainment or to document travel – there has to be a legal purpose to check-in. Then, they must comply with the Swiss “principle of transparency”: it must be obvious that those who are registered are. Since dashboard cameras are unobtrusive by nature and other drivers are usually only aware of their existence after an accident, this is a box that is likely to remain unchecked.

It must also respect the “principle of proportionality”. Since dash cams record during an entire trip, the ratio of important filmed to unimportant filmed is likely to be extremely unfavorable. Hundreds of people, vehicles and buildings that have nothing to do with an incident (if, in fact, an incident does occur) will end up being illegally registered.

If you’ve read all of this and thought to yourself that it doesn’t seem possible to use a dash cam in Switzerland at all, you would be absolutely right. Road safety is considered the responsibility of the police, and it would be best if you keep your dash cam disconnected while traveling.

For more information on how UK law affects dash cam owners read our full guide on dash cameras and the law.

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About Gail Mena

Gail Mena

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