Hiring a car when travelling overseas has so many advantages: enabling you to travel beyond a city’s public transport, saving you money on taxis for larger groups and giving you the freedom to enjoy your travels as you like it. Although it may seem like a great idea, it is important to know of any issues that may arise when you decide to hire abroad – the best way to avoid these is to make a check list.
Where is the hire company?
Many people often make the mistake of not checking where the hire company is actually based when making a pre-booking – they’re not always at the airport, they can sometimes be miles away! Find this out before you travel; it is often worth letting them know your flight details as well, just so they are aware if you are delayed in case they close before you land.
Have you got all the correct documents?
It is absolutely essential that you bring all important documents with you if you are planning on hiring a car abroad. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) says that you will need your full Great Britain or Northern Ireland driving licence as well as an International Driving Permit in some non-EU countries. This will save any hassle in the long term – even if the hire company doesn’t necessarily require all of the documents, you may need them in another situation. Failure to provide them could result in not being able to hire a vehicle.
Are you old enough to hire?
Most hire companies have a minimum age to hire as 21 years old – you may have got your license younger than that, but this tends to be the rule for hiring. Companies can set their own regulations, for example, in Ireland some rental companies say you have to be 21 years old and have also had your license for 5 years (confusing, right?). If you don’t meet the age requirements, you may have to pay more or you may not even be able to rent a car.
Got the right cards?
One thing many people usually fall victim to when arriving at the hire company is not bringing a valid credit card with them. It must have sufficient funds on it as some companies may wish to carry out a credit check. Another typical issue is that not all firms will accept American Express cards – just as the FCO says, you should always check before you travel.
Do your own checks!
Before you drive off with your hire car, ensure that you carry out any checks for damage, with an employee if possible. A great tip is to take photos of the condition of the vehicle before you drive it for future reference, in case there is an issue you need to dispute.
Know the rules?
For peace of mind for your travels, you should always get to know the laws and riving rules of the country you are visiting. There may be different speed limits or stricter rules on alcohol limits. The AA and the RAC have advice on driving in specific countries, including information on compulsory equipment. The FCO has a helpful checklist to use for driving abroad and getting to know the rules.
If you are uncertain about any of the above, it’s worth checking out the Foreign and Commonwealth website for reliable and up to date travel information. They also have this handy online leaflet about driving in Europe.