How To Rent a Car in Europe

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Whether you’re traveling to Europe for business or pleasure, renting a car is one of the best ways to get started. Although European countries are known for their efficient and affordable public transit, the best way to to take in the culture, visit historic landmarks, and get around is to rent a car.

Here’s a complete rundown of what to expect when renting a car in Europe.

Getting Started

how to rent a car in europe

In many ways, renting and driving a car in Europe is similar to the renting in the United States.  First and foremost, you’ll need to bring your passport, driver’s license, and proof of insurance. Along with a valid credit card, this is all you’ll need to book a car and drive around many European countries. Requirements can vary depending on your location.

It’s always a good idea to check the government website of whatever country you’re visiting for exact rules and regulations. You can also get an international driving permit from the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA). This permit is a form of identification that is valid in over 150 countries. It includes your name, photo, and driver information translated into nine languages. This can help you get through any interactions you might have with officials who aren’t familiar with American legal documents. The permit includes English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Italian, German, Arabic, Swedish, and French translations. A international driving permit may be required to rent and operate a car in some countries.

Check Your Insurance

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One essential part of driving in Europe is your car insurance. When you rent your vehicle, you’ll need to provide your current car insurance policy. However, not all car insurance companies in the United States cover car rentals in Europe.

There are other options if you’re not covered by your regular insurance. You can purchase dedicated coverage from a third-party broker before your trip. You can also purchase additional insurance through the car rental company you book with. Depending on your credit card company, the card you pay with may provide some coverage when traveling abroad.

Rates and Fees

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When renting a car in Europe, it’s important to keep an eye on the rates and fees. The daily rates for renting a car can vary wildly depending on the country or the region you’re traveling to. It’s always a good idea to shop around before settling on a rental agency. Along with your daily rate, be prepared to pay Value Added Tax (VAT) along with surcharges and fees. Almost every item or service you purchase in a European country is subject to Value Added Tax.

In Europe, the majority of cars on the road have a manual transmission. You’ll often have to pay a fee to rent a vehicle with an automatic transmission if you can’t drive stick. Roads in Europe are often much smaller than those in the United States, which has led to Europeans favoring smaller cars. If you want a larger car, or a luxury vehicle, be prepared to pay significantly more than the standard rate.

If you’re under the age of 25, you’ll have to contend with additional fees and regulations. In some European countries, you might not be able to rent a car unless you’re 25 or older. Conversely, there’s also a legal limit for a driver’s age in some countries. For instance, you might have trouble renting a car if you’re over the age of 70.

Driving Tips

After you get your insurance and paperwork sorted out, you’re ready to hit the road. However, a few key things will be different. Be prepared to drive on the left side of the road if you’re visiting the United Kingdom or Ireland. The rest of Europe drives on the right side of the road. Also, every European country uses kilometers per hour instead of Miles per hour. Your car will be configured to display km/h, but it’s easy to fall into old driving habits or misinterpret street signs.

Make sure to keep your paperwork on your person when driving, especially if you plan on crossing international borders. Most countries in the European Union have open borders, but some Eastern-European countries have official border checkpoints that require additional paperwork.

You’ll also notice that pedestrians are very bold about jaywalking and may enter the road at unexpected times. In most European countries pedestrians have the right of way, so pay attention to people by the road.

Planning a Trip to Los Angeles soon?

Want to know how to rent a car in Los Angeles or Pasadena? Your friends at Value Rental Car are dedicated to providing helpful travel tips for when you’re renting a car abroad or in the United States. We offer rental cars for people with bad credit, no credit, or no credit card. We also accept cash and debit card customers. If you’re flying into LAX, we offer complimentary pickup and drop off services right at the airport. We also rent to drivers under the age of 21.