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advice on Car hire (or Van / Motorhome /Minibus hire)...

Before you leave home - Ensure that you are carrying both your picture and paper driving licence (the paper licence shows any endorsements you may have) and your passport (if visiting another country) and travel tickets and car hire paperwork.

When you collect the car:

Although it might be dark and raining.....

  • Check the vehicle for damage
  • Check the spare tyre


Most car rental locations require a credit card

Most car rental locations will not accept debit or Switch, Maestro cards or similar they must be a credit card. It is worth checking in advance if they accept American Express or Diners Club

You must have held a valid driving licence for one year

UK licence holders should note that from June 8, 2015 Paper counter part licences will no longer be valid so they might need updated info from the DVLC More Here

Some car rental companies insist that you have held a full driving licence for one year and also must be over 25. Check in advance as it could mean when you reach the car hire desk, they will not let you rent a car.

Some companies (or legislation in a particular country) will not let a driver hire a car over a certain age - More information Here for "older drivers"

International Driving Permits (IDP) This was established by the 1949 Geneva Convention - Some countries insist the driver has one if you are driving in countries outside the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA). It will be written in ten languages. The IPD will be required in Argentina, Brazil, Burkina Faso,Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Greece, Iraq Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Senegal, Somalia and South Africa. It is advisable to check with the car hire company when you make your booking.

Always ask what is included in the rates quoted

Never initial or sign an agreement without asking about each item

Do not over insure. If you have travel insurance you do not need personal effects or personal accident insurance

Pre-purchase or Pre-reserve your car rental

Remember to book child seats or a roof rack in advance, particularrly in peak holiday times, it can be a lot cheaper to actually bring your own child seats, even taking into account costs from airlines.


Plan the journey in advance - Some car rental companies provide maps, some will rent you a sat-nav system

Purchase from agents within your own country in case you need refunds or assistance

When you pick-up your vehicle determine where the drop off point is for your return

Ask if the return area has an attendant. If not, who do you return the car to?

If you leave the vehicle without check-in, examine it for damage and photograph it from every angle.

- The Vehicle Condition Report (VCR) - Check your vehicle carefully for signs of damage before driving away. This can be difficult some times if you are in a hurry, it is dark, it is raining, or very very hot and you are in a hurry and have been waiting for the car to be prepared and if it has just been washed and is not dry- however it is very important.
If they have identified certain areas of damage on the plan of the car and not all of them, return to the hire desk and get the additional damage signed off.
Take photos of any damaged areas when you collect the car/van/campervan. Sometimes these are very small. This of course is difficult to do in bad weather conditions or at night. Examples of damage to look out for below:-
Left: Small scratches on door handle and dent on edge of door
Right: Scratches and blemishes on paintwork Left: Bad scatch on door

Right: Black scratches above tyre


Left: Damage to rental van found on collection


Right: Missing section of bumper on rental van
The above two illustration of damage on a rental van have been entered on the collection report for this van hire from a major UK van hire company. It is very important to check the vehicle at collection as you might often find with vans the vehicle is parked close to another rental van and there is not a great deal of room to inspect the vehicle
Left car hire report at Dublin Airport - May 2015 - On collection the people hiring were told there was a scratch on the right hand wing. Before removing the car from the hire company's premises a further check was carried out by the customers.

This check quickly found the absence of the near side front hub cap and another scratch at the rear. The Damage report form was then taken back into the office for signature.

What was not discovered then was a mark below the boot catch on this Renault Clio. So you really need to check everything and of course if it is wet and dark the job is even harder.

Check the rental agreement: The rental agreement will normally include a section for the hire company to record the damage that has been identified. Let the car hire company know if damage has not been recorded before you drive away, even if you are anxious to get going. If you have identified damage let them know.

Drink drive laws vary from country to country - for example in Italy if you have a glass of wine and a grappa with dinner and you are stopped by the police - you will be fined. See also Drink Drive Laws - Examples of what can be drunk at present

Know your speed limits - these vary from country to country.

Speed / Radar cameras certainly apply to rental cars as well! The rental company will be notified and the renter contacted by the authorities. Speed traffic camera information is now being sent from one country to another. e.g. someone caught speeding with a French registered car in Italy will find that the fine will be reported to the French authorities if it is not paid.

Fuel in the car You should check that there is a full tank of fuel (Petrol / Diesel) and normally you should return it full. Car hire companies will often charge an administration charge to fill it up plus the price of the fuel that might be higher than at the pump. Some companies have even put stickers on the speedo stating to return it empty. Take extra care here.
Make sure you fill the car with the correct fuel, most car hire companies issue a warning either with the car keys like the one above or on the outside or inside of the fuel tank cap saying "Diesel" or a green sticker for unleaded.


2012 Note: Many cut price car hire companies based in Cyprus, Spain and Portugal are now offering cars with a full tank of fuel which you must pay for at their rate and then you return it empty. There are a couple of problems with this. First of all you must pay the amount they are charging for fuel and this could be lower in the open market and secondly if you are only hiring the car for a couple of days you might not use up your full tank of fuel you had to buy so you return it with a lot of fuel in it, but cannot get money back on it. In Portugal some are now using the "On all rentals of six days and over the fuel policy is collect full - return empty process so look at the wordings before you book that car hire. CHECK THE CAR HIRE COMPANY's FUEL POLICY BEFORE YOU BOOK. See also Make sure you check the fuel guage on the car that you hire - April 2013

Familiarise yourself with the vehicle - Make sure you know where the controls for essential instruments such as headlights, hazzard warning lights and the horn are located. Adjust your seat and wing mirrors accordingly.

Cross border travel: Check with the Hire company if you can take the car out of the country you are renting in.e.g. Going from France into Italy or if renting in Ireland can you take the car into Northern Ireland or into the Republic of Ireland. You will probably have to pay for crossing the border in Ireland, but some companies do not make you pay an additional charge and you should usually be able to find out at the time of booking.

When dropping of the car make sure you remove or personal belongings and have it checked in and signed off.

The majority of vehicle hire companies class snow chains and winter tyres as optional extras on winter holiday hire packages.

Car Keys: It can be costly if you lose those car hire car keys - GBP £250 or more See our info page Here

The above information has been supplied by a third party and jml Property Services ( / jml Property / jml takes no responsibilty for it's accuracy - September 2009

Fair wear and Tear

The following information is provided by a major UK Car hire company. It should not be relied on for accuracy as other companies would have different definitions. When you go to collect the car you might want to find out the individual company's definition.

This Uk Company say that they do not regard the items listed below as damage, but "fair wear and tear" therefore it is not required to be recorded

Paintwork, Boddy, Bumper and Rubbing Strips

  • Marks and surface scratches of less than 25mm that do not penetrate the top coating and can be readily polished out (such scratches cannot be felt with a finger nail and will not be visible if water is rubbed across)

  • Stone chips of up to 2mm without a dent

Windows Glass and Lamp lenses

  • Marks that can be readily removed
  • Stone chips not exceeding 2mm in diamater

Alloy wheels, Trims and Tryres

  • Marks and surface scratches that do not penetrate the top surface and can be readily polished out. (Such scatches cannot be felt with a finger nail and will not be visible if water is rubbed accross)

  • Even tyre wear appropriate to the mileage of the vehicle

Interior and luggage area

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Information for older drivers

Car hire excess insurance policies available for 75 - 85 year olds

Age no barrier to protection for older drivers Low cost excess waiver policy helps over 75s stay on the Road - March 2008

How old is too old to rent a car? MSNBC - October 2011

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Find out more about Car Rental Here

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See also:

Vehicle rental top tips from the

1. Before you book - Pay close attention to what is and isn't included in the reservation fee. For example, some rental companies charge extra if you can't return the vehicle to the same rental branch, are leaving the country or are under or over a certain age.

2. Paperwork - Make sure you read and understand the terms and conditions of your contract with the rental company. Ask for a copy prior to your rental, so that you have plenty of time to read it through.

3. Insurance - Check if there are any exclusions to your loss/damage waiver insurance. For example, in most cases windscreens, tyres, roof damage and undercarriage damage are not covered. The BVRLA has a guide to damage protection programmes and insurance available by clicking on the image below

4. Fuel - Your car rental quote will not include fuel. Most companies will give you the option of buying a tank of fuel from them and returning the car empty or returning it with a full tank. Remember what you agreed to, otherwise you could end up gifting the rental company a free tank of fuel or paying an extra charge to have the tank re-filled.

5. Going abroad - Make sure that you tell the rental company if you are planning to take the vehicle abroad and that you familiarise yourself with the driving regulations at your destination. You may also need to take additional documentation, such as a VE103B certificate.

6. The collection - Do a thorough inspection, inside and out, walking all the way around the vehicle. Note every single chip, dent and scratch. Pay particular attention to the wheels, windscreen and lights, which are common damage areas. Before you drive the hire vehicle away, familiarise yourself with all of its controls - lights, windscreen wipers etc.

7. The return - Allow plenty of time, particularly at busy rental sites such as airports. Try and return the vehicle during the rental site's operating hours so that someone can check it over with you. Otherwise you will be liable for any damage that occurs between you returning it and them inspecting it.

8. Additional charges - Rental companies will try to outline the full cost of your rental when you make your booking. If you do receive any additional charge upon your return, make sure it comes with an explanation and some supporting documentation.

9. Road traffic offences - If you commit a road traffic offence or fail to pay toll or congestion charges, the rental company will chase you for payment. You will also be liable for an administrative fee on top of the cost of the fine.

10. How to complain - If you have an unresolved dispute with a rental company that belongs to the BVRLA, you can get it referred to the BVRLA conciliation service here

Source: BVRLA - British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association: The information has been provided by BVRLA, subject to change and presented on this site without responsibility

Click on the image below to see their comprehensive guide to renting a car

BVRLA Guide to renting a car - July 2011


The UK European Consumer Centre - UK ECC has an excellent guide "Car hire across the EU - what you should know" which can be download, for your information and use, by using the link below

The free Adobe Acrobat Reader is available to download direct from Adobe by following the link to read this information

A Guide to Booking Car Hire

Fines For car hire damage trigger numerous complaints to EU watchdog August 2017

Am I liable for rental car damage? - Daily Telegraph - August 2011

Car hire glossary

Car hire jargon - What does it all mean?

Car Hire Excess Jargon @ Essential Travel

Car Rental Hidden Costs

Collision Damage Waiver - CDW

Collision damage waiver - how to avoid unexpected bills

CDW - Collision Damage Waiver @ Questor Insurance

Damage liability waiver what is it?

Driving in Australia

Driving in Canada

Driving in New Zealand

Driving in the USA

Driving in Europe

Driving in South Africa

Excess Insurance @ iCarhireinsurance

Explaining collision damage waiver insurance

5 important points to remember when you hire a car, van or motorhome- November 2011

FAQs About car hire insurances @ Odyssey

Handy Tips For Car Hire Journeys

Hot Tips for iCarhireinsurance

It can be costly if you lose those car hire car keys

Jargon Buster @ iCarhireinsurance

Jargon Buster @ Questor Insurance

M50 Barrier Free Tolling system - Dublin - Ireland

Tips to Avoiding Excessive Car Rental Costs from - June 2010

Top tips for cheaper car hire

Tips for motorhome users

Useful tips when hiring a van

Useful tips for a great car hire experience when you rent a car

Warning from Car hire Rental companies

Warning Triangles - Reflective Vests

What is Car Rental Insurance @ iCarhireinsurance?

What is loss damage waiver?

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