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In theory, hiring a car abroad should be pretty simple, but there are many pitfalls for the inexperienced traveler to be aware of. There is usually an array of paperwork to deal with, various car insurance policies to consider, and lots of complex terms and conditions to think about. And that’s before you have even set foot behind the wheel and worked out where on earth you need to go!

Make no mistake: if you don’t plan ahead or read the paperwork correctly, hiring a car abroad could cost you dearly. So instead of wandering up to the first hire car desk you see when you arrive at your chosen destination, do a bit of forward planning to ensure your car hire experience is stress-free.

Book Car Hire in Advance

Prices for hiring a vehicle vary wildly from country to country, but in most cases it is cheaper to book a hire car before you travel. Perusing car hire websites allows you to work out the total cost more easily. If you book on the day, you may find that your car hire operator has charged you for optional extras you don’t actually need. Booking through a reputable company should make life simpler.


Are You Licensed to Drive Abroad?

Check whether your drivers’ license allows you to drive a vehicle in country you are heading to. If you have a current drivers’ license, you should be OK to hire a car, but be aware that some companies place age restrictions on customers and anyone below or above a certain age is prohibited from hiring or driving a rental vehicle.

Hire Car Insurance

It is normal to be offered a range of ‘extra’ insurance policies when hiring a car abroad. These range from Collision Damage Waiver to Theft Protection and Additional Liability Insurance. Big brand car hire companies tend to package up various insurances into a ‘super’ insurance policy that covers everything, but if you hire a vehicle from a local company, expect to be asked if you want to take out extra policies to cover theft, accidents, and accidents involving uninsured drivers.

For this reason, it is usually better to book a hire car in advance, so you know what you are paying for and can make an educated decision about whether you actually need the extra coverage.


Compulsory Safety Equipment

When driving in some countries it is customary to carry certain items of safety equipment, such as first aid kits or warning triangles. Check before you travel what you are expected to carry and make sure your hire car is fully equipped.

Emergency Contact Details

Before you drive away in your hire car, check whether you have been told who to contact in the event of an incident. Reputable car hire companies should give you all the emergency contact information you need before you leave the hire company’s office.

Always check the vehicle for pre-existing damage before you set off. Otherwise you may end up being charged for something you were not responsible for.


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