Taking a hire car abroad (cross-border car hire or international car hire) may not be something you have done before, but it is a surprisingly common requirement. Whether you are crossing a continental European border or crossing The Channel to and from the UK, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
- Ask first. Don’t travel outside a hire car’s country of registration without getting prior approval from the car rental company. You will probably have to pay an additional insurance and/or breakdown assistance fee and failure to do this may well mean you are driving illegally – resulting a raft of potential problems.
- Know where you are going. If you are crossing to and from the UK, be prepared to drive on the opposite side of the road when you get off the ferry. Whether your hire car is left-hand drive or right-hand drive, at some point you will be on the ‘wrong’ side of the road for you car. Take care.
- Make sure you are familiar with the rules of the road (e.g. speed limits) in the countries you are visiting. The AA’s website has an excellent guide on driving requirements in different countries – check it out before you go.
- Make sure you will be able to pay for fuel – ideally have a combination of cash and cards on you so that you will be able to buy fuel at unattended, automated fuel stations with your card and pay cash if your card is declined at manned stations – not all cards are universally accepted around Europe.
- Remember that in virtually all cases, you can only hire cars for international use if they will be returned to the country in which you hired them – one-way international hires are not generally available, although there are a few exceptions.