How to rent a car abroad

Renting a car abroad gives you ultimate holiday freedom. You can take a trip to any must-see sight whenever you want, no matter how long the journey. However, before you rush to hire a car abroad, we recommend doing your research and having a proper shop around first.

We’ve put together some advice to prepare you for car hire abroad. So, before you hire anything, give this a read.

Save yourself some money

Nobody wants to get ripped off. Holidays can be expensive enough. So, here are a few easy ways to make sure you get the best deal possible on your hire car. 

  • Book early. To guarantee a good price, you need to book months, not weeks, in advance. You’d be surprised how much you could save.
  • Get car hire excess insurance in advance. Some companies may ask you to pay a lump sum upfront if you have to claim on your hire car. These costs could reach as high as £2000. Car hire excess insurance will help you avoid this cost, but it’s best to get it ahead of time to save some money.
  • Think about size. When you book your hire car, make sure you get one that is going to fit your family and its luggage. Upgrading once you’re at the hire car desk can prove expensive.
  • Bring a child seat. Many airlines will let you check a child’s car seat into the hold for free. You’ll have to pay extra to have one with your hire car.
  • Always check for damage. When you pick the car up and before you drop it off, take some photos. It’s not unheard of for car hire companies to loan out damaged cars, then charge for damage customers didn’t cause. If they do, those photos will come in handy. 

Finally, when it comes to paying, use a credit card instead of a debit card, if possible. There may be some surcharges, but you’ll get much greater protection if anything goes wrong with your money.

Check your insurance

Don’t assume that you’re covered in your hire car. While many companies will provide cover as standard, it’s not guaranteed, so always read through your documents and double check.

If you are covered, it will likely be called collision damage waiver, third-party cover, or vehicle theft protection. These are all slightly different, so check exactly what you’re covered for. If anything isn’t clear, ask before you set off.

You’ll be able to add some extras, like Personal Effects Protection or Uninsured Motorist Protection, if you want them. It may not seem like the most exciting read in the world, but it’s worth checking them out. 

Get your documents ready 


Here’s your quick documents checklist: 

  • Make sure you have a full driving licence, international driving documentation (if required), and your passport. To be honest, you’ll struggle to get this far without your passport, so that one’s a given. 
  • You may need an International Driving Permit, depending on where you’re heading. You can find out how to get your IDP here
  • Some companies will want to check if you have any points on your licence. This can be done with a DVLA code. Find out how to get your code here. Just remember, these codes are only valid for 21 days.

Finally, your quick car rental checklist

Lastly, here’s our quick list of checks to consider when you get your rental car:

  • Fuel. Make a note of the fuel in the car when you collect it and make sure to adhere to your fuel agreement. Keep hold of any fuel receipts, just in case. 
  • Vehicle controls. That new car feeling can take some time to feel normal. So, check all the controls, make sure you understand what everything does, and make sure everything works. Any questions, don’t be afraid to ask.
  • Mileage limit. If your vehicle comes with a mileage limit, plan out all of your trips well in advance
  • Age restrictions. Some hire companies may include a minimum or maximum age restriction for rental. Double check, just to be safe.
  • Accidents and breakdowns - Enquire on how you should act in the event of an accident or breakdown, and note down an emergency contact number. It’s also a good idea to bring along a breakdown kit.
  • Highway Code. Different countries have different rules, so make sure you know the rules of the road wherever you’re heading. For instance, when driving in Europe, you’ll need a European driving kit

That’s it. You’re all set to safely clock up those miles in the sun. Well, if you’re going somewhere sunny that is.