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Car Rental Abroad: Regulations and Your Rights

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 21 Jun 2017 | comments*Discuss
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When you go abroad, you'll want to find a way to get around if you're going to be there for a while. Although the obvious option is to hire a car, there are other options.

What to Do if You're Considering Car Rental

First things first, if you know you'll want to drive abroad, check whether the country you're going to needs an international drivers' licence for car rental. If so, you can apply for one at a post office, or through the AA - although be warned that an application through the AA can take more than ten working days to be processed from the date of receipt.

When you leave for your holiday, make sure you have all relevant licences and identity documents with you, and you'll definitely need a credit card, too.

Check the legal requirements for age, and the amount of time you've held a licence. Some car hire forms have a minimum age, often 25. Some countries also set a maximum age (in Spain, it is 79). If you don't fit the requirements you might find it hard to hire a car.

Renting Your Car

You can usually pick up a car from your arrival airport, as most larger airports have airport car rental outlets belonging to the major global car hire companies.

The first thing you need to do is to check the car over and make sure there's no damage - do this with an employee from the car rental company before you sign anything. When you return the car, do the same, and make sure it's noted in writing that you've returned the car with no damage...this avoids problems in the future. In some countries, you're liable for any defects in the car such as worn tyres or brakes, so be careful to check.

In some European countries it's a legal requirement to have a fire extinguisher, first aid kit and other safety items in the car, so if you're renting in Europe, check that the car has everything it should do by law - the police will hold you responsible as the driver if it doesn't.

Make sure you know what the agreements are for fuel - do you have to return the car with a full tank of petrol for example? Keep all your petrol receipts to prove you filled the car up on return, if that's the case.

Make sure you have adequate insurance and if in doubt cover the car as comprehensively as you can afford. If possible, go for a comprehensive damage cover and check for what the policy you're offered actually covers - sometimes car rental insurance exclude damage to tyres, rims, and even stone chipping damage, which could be something to be concerned about in some areas! Make sure you're covered for theft, too.

Hidden Costs of Car Rental

Be careful that you don't get stung by unexpected charges when you rent a car abroad. Some of the things you could end up paying out for include:

  • paying extra if nominated drivers are under 25
  • paying more for additional drivers
  • hidden VAT charges
  • costs of cleaning the car
  • extra road-use charges that you might come across in some countries - Italy for example
  • service charges, and refuelling penalties
  • charges for essential accessories like a child seat.

Renting a Scooter Abroad

Would you ride a scooter on the roads in the UK? If not, it's probably best to give scooter hire in a foreign country a miss, too! There are a high number of serious injuries, and unfortunately also fatal accidents caused by scooter drivers, so unless you're an experienced rider, stick to cars and public transport. If you really must zoom around on a scooter, wear a helmet and check the bike over carefully before you take it away.

If you do decide to hire a bike or a scooter, you use a reputable hire firm and ask first whether they are licensed to hire bikes to holidaymakers. Make sure you're insured and be careful!

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I've just returned from Florida and have received a bill for personal accident insurance and roadside recovery plus to which I wasn't asked if I required these policies!! Does the hire company have to offer you these before they add it to your car hire??
Gee - 22-Sep-16 @ 6:09 PM
i rented a car in San Francisco ca so that i can take vacation to relax cause i have health problem while i was driving to Los Angeles Ca i decided to get a bit to eat at a fast food drive through as i was driving towards the open window to pick my food up i heard a ral bad noise i asked my cusin what is that noise while i was pressing the breaks as i aproach the window the cashier heard me ask my cusin what is that noise the cashier spoke up and said oooh thats your brake, i said what my brakes so i pulled into the parking lot of the fast food and called the car rental and told them why did your company rent me a unsafe car that the brakes is sqeaking and making a real bad noise, i even stated that that noise only means that the breaks are bad and that it is melt to melt where the brakes can lock up on me.. they asked me where i was i said i really do not know its like a desert and they offered to exchanged the car when i get to los angeles and as i was driving to the mountain up in los angeles it started raining then snowing and the road was icy and then there was like a 15 to 20 car pile up, thank god that i heard the sound of the break before i got up in that mountain at lease i was going slow instead of driving on the free way at 70 miles per hour cause it is dangerous to drive a car that the brakes are bad.when i called the car rental again and the car rental gave me direction to the los angeles car rental where it is in a bad area i got lost and being so upset and scared and frustrated i lost my sense of direction my vacation became a vacation from hell, me and my cusin yelled at each other in the behind this car rental rruden my road trip we called car rental company again and begged them to stay on the phone with us till we got to our destination the car rental to replace car i was sooo upset and frustrated that i asked to talk to the manger and he seen the way i look disgusted and worn out he guided me the drop off spot where there is a inspector to receive and inspect the car the first thing he stated was he already wrote bad breaks cause he heard the breaks making loud sqeaky breaking noise and then the inspector, inspected the car and bend down and got on his knees to take a look at the whole of the back passager side outside the metle had a red circle with a signture acrose the red circle , he stated after he seen that he said oh my god .. this car has a RED FLAG on it.. we asked him what does that mean.. he said that means this car was supposed to be taken off the floor NOT TO BE RENTED.. the inspector stated when i get back to san francisco that i should call the corporate office and let them know that they rented a car that was not supposed to be rented out... when i got back to san francisco i contactd the corporate office and the legal department stated your not hurt or dead what claim are you tryingto claim .. she kind of laugh and i said neglent towards your unsafe car and your car rental that re-alter my rental agreement
el - 20-Feb-13 @ 6:34 AM
I hired a car in Tuscanny from Euro Car in AUGUST last year. no problems took it back completely fine. In JANUARY this year the fraud people at my visa card group rang to say that Euro car had suddenly taken 273 pounds from my account, well they tried to but it had been stopped. Two weeks after it had been stopped i hear from Euro Car Italy saying that they wanted to receive from the 273 pounds for excess waver damage. i thought it was rather dodgy that they had only written to me about this money after it had been stopped by my bank and not before then, also that it was six months later and also that i still have the receipt stating that the car i took back was perfectly fine and no damage!!I think something is awry here. What can I do. Linda
lynn - 31-Jan-13 @ 11:30 PM
I returned my hire car 3 weeks ago and was told I would be refunded the excess EUR451 which had been charged to my Visa debit card. I still have not been refunded. I made countless phone calls and sent numerous emails but have received no information. I am repeatedly told that I will be emailed soon but as yet have received nothing. Are there regulators for car rental companies to prevent this from happening? Is there any other body I can contact besides the car hire company I booked through? I have receipts acknowledging what I am owed but when I live a few thousand miles away, there's not a lot I can do with them. EUR451 is too much money for me to forget about. It is totally wrong that I should be ripped off like this when I booked the car in good faith and kept my side of the agreement. Has this ever happened to anyone else or am I just very unlucky?
SE - 1-Sep-12 @ 4:17 PM
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