Any plans to travel abroad may include hiring a car. Be prepared; car rental outside the UK can be confusing. Car hire companies know this, and they do not go out of their way to make understanding the process any easier. The more you know before you leave, the better off you will be at the counter.
We have put together this quick guide to hiring a car abroad. Although it is not as detailed as it could be, it offers enough information to get you started. You might want to consider speaking with a travel agent or the AA for more details.
Your Driving Licence
The abolishment of the paper driving licence counterpart in 2015 now leaves car hire companies but one choice for checking your licence: logging on to the DVLA website and checking there. You will need a code that authorises the car hire company to check your records. You can obtain that code by visiting the GOV.UK website or calling the DVLA directly.
Obtaining the Proper Insurance
Unlike car insurance in some other countries, the insurance you have on your own car will not do much in the event of an accident involving a rental. You should seriously consider purchasing extra insurance to cover your car hire. You have two options: buying insurance at the counter or covering car hire with travel insurance.
Insurance offered by your car hire company will be significantly more expensive, especially if you choose to take advantage of all the options they offer. You can save money by purchasing travel insurance that includes car rental cover. We recommend you go this route. It simply does not make sense to pay the excessively high fees charged by car hire providers.
As part of your insurance cover, make sure you have protection against theft. Some hire companies include this protection by default; others require you pay extra for it. You should be able to get a travel insurance policy that includes it.
At the Counter
While standing at the car hire counter, you will be faced with a barrage of information you may or may not understand. Any trouble keeping up is sufficient reason for you to stop the agent and request that he or she slow down and take more time to explain things to you. Never, under any circumstances, sign car hire documents unless you know exactly what they say.
Before You Drive Away
Any car hire company worth doing business with will send an agent to accompany you to your car before you drive away. Take this time to do a thorough inspection of both the interior and exterior. Check all of the gauges, controls, and accessory equipment. Also, look for dents, scratches, and any other visible damage. Anything you find wrong with the car should be documented before you depart.
Hiring a car abroad is not always easy, so make sure you are diligent to protect yourself. Otherwise, it could be a very costly proposition.