6 Things to Remember When Hiring a Car Abroad 

Hiring a car when you overseas give you’re the freedom to explore whilst on your holiday. However, it is worth remembering there are certain things you will need to make sure you can secure your vehicle, travel safely, and not fall foul of certain expenses.

1. International Driving Permit

If you want to drive abroad, you will need an IDP – an International Driving Permit. It is recognized globally and allows you to drive overseas where a license from your home country isn’t enough. You will need a valid driving license from your home country to secure an International Driving Permit.

Not every country requires you to have an IDP. Other countries are happy for you to drive with just your regular license from home. Always make sure to take your driving license with you when hiring a car abroad as the firm will likely take details from it when you use one of their vehicles.

2. Car insurance

When renting a vehicle overseas, sometimes the company will include insurance in your package, or have a preferred provider. Whether you source your own insurance or not, it is imperative that you have insurance cover when driving a hire car abroad. Failure to provide evidence of insurance is a criminal offense.

It may be worth checking the insurance policy you have on your own vehicle. Sometimes a foreign cover is already included, or you can pay a little extra for European or global cover to extend onto a hire vehicle. However, make sure to ask what level of cover is provided as it is often basic.

3. Car hire excess insurance

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Whether you are obligated to use an insurance package via the rental firm or take out your own, there will always be an excess fee to pay if something happens to the vehicle if a claim is made. This means, if you have a collision abroad, you will be expected to pay the excess. Some insurance policies have high excess fees, meaning you could be out of pocket significantly. Charges between £500 and £1500 are the norm.

Investing in car hire excess insurance is important for anyone hiring a car abroad. It gives peace of mind that, should an insurance claim be made, that you can claim the excess back. Visit for a range of excess insurance coverage.

4. Satnav

Not all countries will be able to supply brand new modern cars. This means the usual gadgets you are used to might be missing. Unless you’ve driven in a country before, chances are you may need some help getting around. Taking your satnav or using Google Maps on your mobile whilst driving overseas will help you get from A to B without relying on foreign road signs. Make sure, if using your smartphone, to install a temporary mount in the vehicle you’re hiring so you can drive safely.

5. Children’s car seats

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If you have children they will require car seats when hiring a vehicle abroad. However, some companies do not have these available to add on to the cost of your hire, or they run out during peak holiday times. Some airlines allow you to pay a small fee to add car seats to your luggage and this typically works out significantly cheaper than paying to hire one when you land.

6. Extra charges

When hiring a vehicle abroad make sure you are aware of any hidden fees you could end up paying. One of the major pitfalls of a car hire is fuel costs as companies have varying policies.

Most companies operate a full-full policy. This is often cheapest for the customer too if you return the car with a full tank of fuel. Typically, the company gives you the car with a full tank of petrol and you return it with a full tank or incur a penalty, which can be anywhere between £20 and £50.

Another option is full-empty. This means you’ve leased a car with a full tank of petrol and you will return it empty. However, the fuel provided by the company is inevitably going to come at a premium. Furthermore, if you top up the tank and don’t use it all, you’re missing out.

Lastly, is the same-same policy. You simply return the rental vehicle with the same amount of fuel as when you drove it away. Again, like full-full, you can be charged a penalty if you fail to do so.

Other charges that are often hidden from the plain site include:

  • Additional mileage – some hire companies will charge you if you drive over a set distance per day. For example, if your allowance was
  • 50km per day and you did 100km, you will be charged for the extra miles.
  • Admin fees – companies will charge a premium for processing claims or traffic violations on your behalf, fees vary between £50-£200.
  • Cleaning – if you return your car in a dirtied state expect to pay for a full interior/exterior clean. Make sure to take your own photographs of the interior and exterior before you leave the forecourt to avoid situations.
  • Late pick-up – make sure you input your flight details when renting a car abroad; the company will be alerted if your flight is delayed.
  • There have been cases where companies have let vehicles go to other customers due to lateness. You could end up out of pocket.
  • Late return – avoid extra fees by giving yourself leeway with your return time. If you pick up a vehicle at 2 pm and will return in a week at 9 am, make sure you give a return time of 2 pm. Doing this will not incur you an extra charge as rentals are dished out in 24-hour slots. If you return early this is fine. However, if you return late you could be charged an entire extra day.

Car rental tips

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When hiring or driving your rented vehicle abroad keep the following in mind:

  • Question anything in the contract you don’t understand and read it thoroughly
  • Check for any extra charges that could come your way
  • Is there any insurance cover?
  • Before departing take photographs of any damage on the vehicle and alert the hiring company to this
  • Check the vehicle is equipped with a spare tire and safety gear
  • Ensure you have the contact details of a breakdown firm

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