From international driving permits to insurance coverage, here's what you need to know about renting a car abroad.
Tip #1: Find the best deal
- Make all car rental arrangements, from booking to payment, in advance. Rental rates are almost always higher at the counter overseas.
- Search for special discounts and promo codes. Always ask about senior citizen and other discounts.
- North American rental agencies like Hertz, Enterprise and Avis operate in many countries abroad, but their rates are often more expensive than local agencies.
Tip #2: Choose the right vehicle
- Are you travelling with children or a lot of gear? Choose a large sedan or SUV. Remember, European cars are smaller. Be sure to order the size you need in case you don't get an upgrade.
- Looking to save money on rental rates and gas? Reserve the smallest model you can. Hybrid/electric vehicles are also available, but you'll have to be mindful of charging outlets.
- Manual transmissions are the norm in many countries, which means you may have to pay a premium for an automatic and even reserve it in advance.
Tip #3: Get an International Driving Permit (IDP)
An IDP provides a multilingual translation of your Canadian driver's licence, and it's recognized in more than 100 countries. If you are stopped by law enforcement officials abroad, you must present both your IDP and your home country's driver's licence.
Keep in mind that you must be at least 18 years old to get an IDP, and it can only be issued by your home country.
Tip #4: Check that you have the right insurance
Check your auto insurance policy and your credit card travel coverage to see if you are covered for overseas car rentals. If not, be prepared to take insurance coverage from the rental agency.
You'll only be allowed to refuse rental coverage with proof of other coverage. Car rental companies offer a collision damage waiver that covers some loss or damage to the rental vehicle. For example, the Personal offers a Worry-Free OptionTM that gives you peace of mind wherever you go within Canada or the United States.
Tip #5: Know the local rules and routes
- Familiarize yourself with the local rules of the road long before you get there. For example, know which side of the road to drive on, who has the right of way in a traffic circle and whether you're permitted to turn right (or left, in some countries) on a red light. This information can be found in an up-to-date guidebook.
- While smartphone mapping apps are becoming more affordable and easier to access, it can also depend on your cellphone plan. Consider taking a printed roadmap as a back up. Renting a GPS unit from your rental car company is another option.
A final note
Before you go, make sure you have a copy of your rental contract. Know what it says regarding the time and place of drop-off and pick-up as well as agency fees (e.g., eco-tax, extra amounts for a second driver or for a driver under 25 years of age). Keep in mind that drivers under the age of 25 or over the age of 70 may face surcharges or may not be permitted to rent at all.
Now you're ready to go. Get behind the wheel and enjoy exploring unfamiliar places!
Worry-Free OptionTM trademark of Desjardins General Insurance Group Inc., used under licence.
The information in this article is provided for informational purposes only. The Personal shall not be liable for any damages arising from any reliance upon such information or advice. The Personal recommends using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, expert advice.