Hiring a Car Abroad: Everything You Need to Know

Ever wondered how to hire a car abroad? Or what documents and insurance you need to do so? Whether you’re looking for holiday car rental or you’re flying abroad for business and need a car, there are certain things you should be looking out for. We’ve put together a guide filled with the most important information you need to know – from how and when to book a hire car, to the documents you’ll need when renting a car abroad.

hiring a car abroad

How to hire a car abroad

Booking a hire car online before you go will help you get the best deals, and that way you can do the research into which companies you can and can’t trust – rather than going for the first option you can find when you get there. Doing your research before you go will tell you everything you need to know about which company is best to go for, depending on where you’re going, what airport you’re flying into and what you need the car for. Using more than one comparison website will help you find all the information you need to choose the best car for you. APH car hire gives you the freedom to explore, while taking away the stress of getting to and from the airport and your hotel.

We have answered some of the most asked questions when it comes to hiring a car abroad below.

How old do you have to be to book a hire car?

The answer to this question varies across each rental company and you may come across a minimum and maximum age limit. In some countries you can hire a car at the age of 18, although you may be limited to the choice of rental cars and you may be charged a ‘young driver’s fee’. Typically, it is easier to rent a car from the age of 20 and upwards, although until you’re 25 and above, you’ll typically still be charged an additional young driver’s fee. You must also have a permanent driver’s license that is at least one year old.

What’s the average cost of hiring a car abroad?

Prices vary depending on the size and make of the car, the company’s availability and the location. To save yourself some money, we would always recommend paying in advance. Although no matter when you book, it’s always worth keeping an eye out for hidden costs. These may include:

  • Cleaning
  • Additional or young driver
  • VAT
  • Additional road-use
  • Crossing any international borders
  • Servicing and refuelling
  • Any extras, from child seats to sat navs

What documents do you need to hire a car abroad?

Typically, when hiring a car abroad you’ll need to take your driving licence, any international driving documentation and your passport with you. But in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, the documents you will need to carry when hiring a car abroad will change. If the UK leaves the European Union without a deal, then:

  • You will likely need an Insurance Green Card, as well as an International Driving Permit (IDP). The IDP you will need will depend on the country that you will be driving in.
  • If you own a UK photocard driving licence you won’t need an IDP to drive in certain countries for shorter visits, including Greece, Austria and Germany.
  • There are also countries that won’t require a photo ID or IDP for shorter visits, only a UK paper licence. These include Spain, Portugal and Iceland.
  • You will need at least 6 months on your passport. 
  • You may need your DVLA driving licence code so that they can complete their checks on your licence online, or they may request a printout.

What insurance do you need when hiring a car abroad?

Depending on the country you’re hiring a car in, some laws state that you are obliged to have three types of basic insurance that are typically included in the cost of your hire car and the contract. These include:

how to book a hire car on holiday
  • Cover for the vehicle against theft
  • Cover for the vehicle against damage
  • Cover for any injury or property damaged suffered by a third party (third party cover)

Car hire excess insurance which allows you to claim back any extra costs that you may have to pay towards any claims. Although you should never feel like you have to buy your insurance from your rental company if you don’t want to – going with a third-party insurance provider may be the best option in some cases.

Can you hire a car abroad without a credit card?

It is recommended that you pay for your hire car using a credit card if possible, and some hire companies require this anyway. This way, in the event of any problems, e.g. the firm going bust, you’ll be protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act – which only covers credit payments between £100 and £30,000.

Other things to remember when hiring a car abroad

Try to look for rental companies that are a member of the European Car Rental Conciliation Service Scheme for reliability, trust and security. But no matter who you choose to rent with, when picking up your hire car, you should pay attention to a few things:

  • Is the car you’re about to drive off in the one you booked? Don’t let them fool you with a smaller car or one of a lower quality. So make sure you have a copy of your booking to hand just in case you need proof.
  • Check the car for any bumps and scrapes and make a note of them before you drive off anywhere to avoid having to pay anything extra for it later.
  • Always check that you’re covered for unlimited daily mileage when you’re using a hire car to travel long distances.
  • You might not get a choice, but fuel is typically provided under one of two conditions:
  • Supplied with a full tank, returned with a full tank. There may be a charge to your card if you don’t.
  • Supplied with a full tank and returned empty. This way, you’ll end up paying for a full tank beforehand and will need to return the car as empty as you can – more suitable for those who are going to be doing a lot of driving.

So always bear this in mind before you drive back to the airport to drop your car off – as you may receive additional charges to your account if you don’t.

Then, once you’ve handed it back, check your credit card statement to confirm that you’ve not been charged for anything you shouldn’t have. If there’s anything you would like to dispute, report them to the hire company and your credit card provider.

If you’re hiring a car abroad in an unfamiliar location, do your research. From driving licence categories to mobile speed cameras, road signs and permissions. The country you are visiting may do things slightly differently, so getting clued up on driving safety rules when you’re abroad is important.

Hiring a car abroad with APH

Now you know the basics of hiring a car abroad, why not pre-book your rental car with APH? Discover the choices of renting a car abroad with APH and find the best car for you. We have partnered with two leading car hire companies, to bring you the best deals and choices – wherever you go.

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