The Use of Vehicle Recording Cameras Abroad – What you need to know about driving in Europe
The use of vehicle mounted cameras has become very affordable and for the most part reasonably simple to install. I have deliberately chosen the title above because all the legislation I have so far found only refers to cars and vans etc.; there has been no reference at all to motorcycles. However, it would be wise to infer that what applies to four wheels applies equally to two and would be a better choice than risking the legal debate and fine with a particular country’s police officers and court system. Spain for example, has a nasty habit of putting you in jail for a few months without trial while they investigate. To justify that comment, you should know that a driver of the back-up vehicle and recovery trailer for a motorcycle tour of Morocco was jailed in such a way coming off the ferry from Morocco to Spain when an illegal immigrant was found in the trailer. The only way that could have happened is if the illegal was allowed on board the ferry in Morocco and secreted in the trailer during the voyage, since it was searched before boarding the Ferry. We were members of the EU at that time. Now, well who knows, Spain has recently revived a restrictive law on property purchase enacted in 1975 by the Franco Regime and not used for over 40 years since his demise.
The UK has a very relaxed view of in-vehicle recording equipment and they have proved very worthwhile in some court cases. The European Continent is a very different prospect and even those countries in the European Union do not have a single common policy which makes life somewhat difficult.
It is completely legal to own and use a vehicle mounted camera and recording equipment in:
Bosnia Herzegovina Denmark Italy Malta Netherlands Serbia Spain Sweden
The following countries have a complete ban on the use of vehicle cameras:
Austria – A complete ban, it is illegal full stop. If you are caught the fine is €10,000 for a first offence and €25,000 for a second or subsequent offence. It is in fact illegal to own a dash cam let alone have it on the vehicle.
Luxembourg – You can own one but you can’t use it
Portugal – Not legal to own or use one
The countries below have some sort of restrictions on using such equipment:
Belgium – Legal with conditions, you can own and use one, but only for “private use”. If you were involved in an accident, then you would need to inform all other parties before submitting any footage as evidence.
France – Similar conditions of usage and fitment to those of Britain, but again only for “private use”. You can’t upload footage on to the internet. Evidential footage must go directly to the police in the first instance.
Germany – Legal with conditions, primarily that any shared footage must have faces and registration numbers obscured. Not sure how that would apply in an accident recording for evidential purposes.
Norway – Legal with conditions, similar rules to the UK.
Switzerland – Legal, but heavily conditioned, whilst they are technically legal, the accepted view is that because of the stringent Swiss data protection and privacy laws it is almost impossible to get any practical use from them;
- You must conform to the Swiss “Principle of Transparency”;
- You cannot use them simply to document a Journey;
- There has to be a legal purpose to the filming;
- It must be obvious to those being recorded they are being filmed;
- It must adhere to the principle of proportionality.
Bearing in mind that such a camera could be on for the entire journey, the ratio of important film to unimportant stuff will almost certainly be extremely unfavourable. Hundreds of people, buildings, vehicles would have been filmed and even in the event of an accident, if such occurred, would have been filmed illicitly.
So there you have it. Whilst nothing is said about helmet mounted cameras, once again you need to take the same precautions. Depending on the type of camera Go Pro, Von Mon, OLFI, and Drift Ghost for example fitted it may simply be a case of removing it and putting it in your luggage. The more difficult option of discreetly mounted cameras such as the Innov K2, for front and rear of your motorcycle might be a lot more difficult to simply remove. Switching off the record mode is the next obvious solution, but may not be sufficient in countries where ownership and fitment is illegal. The obvious reaction to this is; well, if it is legal to fit to UK vehicles how can another country that we are merely visiting stop our use? My answer to that is first and foremost it is their country and we have to respect their laws. Secondly I wouldn’t even think about using such a challenge in their court system.
Whilst they have proved invaluable to many UK motorists, cyclists and motorcyclists involved in road traffic collisions, the subsequent court action and insurance claims. Unfortunately it appears Europe doesn’t share the same rationality and has no common EU policy. So frankly it is not worth the effort or risk.