Red / White Reflective warning signs for motorhomes- do you need one?

Confused about the law for displaying a red / white striped sign on the back of your motorhome or campervan when travelling in Europe?

So were we, so we've done the research for you. Here's everything you need to know to stay legal if you have an overhanging load on your van in Europe.

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Red & White striped boards – do you need one?

If you are travelling in certain countries in Europe and have ANYTHING which overhangs the length of your motorhome, you MUST display a panel board (often called a chevron board) which has reflective stripes (or slashes, if you prefer) in red and white.

The stripes must run at 45 degrees and must be displayed on ANY vehicle with anything extending the length. This applies to cars, caravans, motorhomes and campervans.

The reflective warning sign must be displayed on the rear of your motorhome/ camper, at the back of the load (so not on the back of your actual motorhome.)

You'll need them if you have a:

  • storage box (like ours)
  • bicycle rack (even if nothing is on it)
  • tow bar rack (even if nothing is on it)
  • if you have a surfboard or something on the roof which extends beyond the back bumper
  • If you have anything which makes the vehicle wider, you must display two boards, one on each side.

You do NOT need one if you have a trailer.

It's unclear if you need one if you just have a towbar and nothing else on it. My gut feeling is no- after all, where would you attach it to?- but I can't find any definitive answer.

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    Which countries are they mandatory in?

    These back marker boards are compulsory if motorhoming in Italy and Spain, although they are ‘recommended' in several others.

    According to this Thule post, they are also mandatory in Hungary and Poland

    You don't need one in the UK if the overhang is less than 1m.

    They are not currently mandatory when motorhoming in France, Germany or any other European country unless the load extends over 10% of the vehicle length, but still worth having- just in case you're like us and go detouring into random countries with very little planning!


    What dimensions do the red/ white board need to be?

    The board must be at least 50×50 cm (minimum area of 2500cm²)


    Does it matter how many stripes?

    I've read that Spain requires ones with at least 3 red/ 3 white hatched, reflective stripes, whereas Italy seems to require 5 stripes

    We have one with 5 red stripes. We figured, if in doubt, more is better.


    Does it matter what the board is made from?

    Yep.

    In Italy, the board must be made from aluminium and have a reflective surface ‘all over'. I have read that this is only for vehicles over 12m long, but can't find the rule to confirm this. Personally, we went for an aluminium one and haven't had any trouble in Italy or when motorhoming in Spain.

    I have also read that the Italians are less concerned about the material if it has the 4 ‘reflective circles/ cats eyes' in the corners. However, Fiamma (an ITALIAN company!) say that the plastic boards are not legal in Italy (in their FAQs)

    What makes that even more absurd/ confusing, is that Fiamma themselves only sell the plastic boards. Which makes absolutely no sense!

    Planning to take your motorhome to Europe?

    Europe Motorhome travel checklist- FREE

    GUIDE: Stop the overwhelm with our step-by-step guide. Contains eBook, checklists and more. Complete Europe Motorhome Travel Toolkit

    CHECKLIST: Don't forget to grab your FREE Europe motorhome travel checklist HERE

    GEAR– If you need any motorhome gear for touring Europe, here's what we recommend.


    How do you attach the board?

    The red & white striped signs are usually easily attached to the overhanging object with elastic bungees (not usually provided with purchase so be sure to buy some- these are good). There is usually a hole in each corner for the bungees (or string, if you prefer) to attach to.


    Which way round does the stripes have to point?

    The stripes MUST point into the centre of the road in the country you are driving in. Of course, in Europe they would always go from top right to bottom left (see photo).

    Motorhome trips to Europe- route planning and tips for visiting Europe with a motorhome or campervan
    Motorhoming in Europe with red white chevron board

    I guess technically in the UK you should stop and turn the board around to point the other way, but we have driven all over the UK and often forgotten to do this.


    Can I just use reflective tape instead of a sign?

    No. I think you run the risk of being fined. Get a proper reflective rear warning board.


    Which rear warning board to buy?

    Personally, we have one like this aluminium red and white warning sign and have never had a problem.


    Other rules you need to be aware of

    Don't forget, you might need:

    Grab your FREE Europe motorhoming checklist to make sure you have everything you need.


    New to motorhome or camper travel in Europe? You might find these posts helpful:

    Tour Europe in a Motorhome; Motorhome Europe Travel
    How to tour Europe in a Motorhome- step-by-step
    Beginners RV trip planner
    How to plan EPIC motorhome trips
    Free motorhome parking and overnight stopovers in Europe for motorhomes and campervans
    How to find Free motorhome parking and overnight stopovers in Europe for motorhomes and campervans
    10 essential tips for campervan and motorhome life. Whether you're plan a road trip or full-time van living, these hacks and ideas with help.
    Essential kit for Motorhoming in Europe (with free checklist)

    See all our Europe motorhoming posts here

    NEED GEAR? If you need any kit or essentials for motorhoming in Europe, here's what we recommend and where to find it

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