10 Things UK Locals Should Know Before Hiring a Car Abroad


Read more blogs published by this author

10 Things UK Locals Should Know Before Hiring a Car Abroad

First published on: July 9, 2024

Are you planning a big family vacation to Europe or another country? The process of hiring a car abroad has changed quite a bit for UK citizens after Brexit. UK travellers can benefit a lot from understanding the new car rental procedures overseas.

That’s precisely what we’re going to do today. We’re about to share 10 things UK locals should know before hiring a car abroad.

1. UK Residents Need These Documents for Hiring a Car Abroad

UK residents will need these documents to hire a car abroad:

  1. A valid UK passport
  2. A valid UK driving licence
  3. An international driving permit (Applies only to a few countries)
  4. A DVLA code (That’s a stretch. You may not need it, but it’s good to have it)

Some car rentals may want to check your driving records. A DVLA code gives the car rental company access to your driving records for 21 days. You can easily get your licence check code by visiting the official DVLA website.

2. Hiring a Car is Different Post-Brexit

Since Britain has left the EU, you must ensure your passport is valid for at least six months when travelling in Europe. Otherwise, you will not be able to hire a car.

Plus, there’s no longer a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) post-Brexit. Instead, you’ll need a Global Health Insurance Card. But if your current EHIC hasn’t expired, it should still be valid.

If you have a UK-issued photocard driving licence, you won’t need an IDP to travel in the EU, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein, even post-Brexit. But you may need an IDP if you only have a paper or photocard licence from Jersey, Guernsey, or the Isle of Man.

3. Which Car to Choose?

Choosing a car depends on your travel plans. If you need a zippy little car for narrow streets and city exploring, you can consider a KIA Picanto for rent. However, if you need something more powerful, you can look for an SUV or 4WD option.

hiring a car abroad

4. Always Read the Fine Print of Booking Details

If you don’t want to get ripped off while hiring a car overseas, always read the car rental agreement carefully. Many small details, like where you can pick up the car, if there are any age-related rental surcharges, and mileage limitations are mentioned in the fine print.

If you’re unaware of these minor details, it may cost you a lot more than your actual budget at the time of booking.

5. Inspect the Car Inside Out

A recent survey found that more than 42% of people charged for damages by a car rental said that the damage was already there when they got the car.


You should always inspect the car you’re getting before signing off on the rental agreement. Take pictures if you have to, and show any preexisting damage to the rental company. 

6. Ensure Maximum Insurance Coverage When Hiring a Car Abroad

Usually, when you rent a car abroad, it comes with some insurance, but it might not cover everything. If you bump a curb or something happens, there might be a hefty bill to pay. 

To avoid that big bill, it is recommended to take out car hire excess insurance separately. This way, your high excess payment gets reimbursed in case of an accident.

7. Choosing Between Full-Fuel Vs. Full-Empty Tank

When you rent a car abroad, you’ll typically have two choices for how to handle gas:

Full-to-Full: This is the simplest and most recommended option. You pick up the car with a full tank and return it full, only paying for the gas you use.

Empty-to-Empty: Sounds convenient, but it can be risky. Plus, it can be stressful to find a fuel pump near the rental office when your tank is running low on gas. 

8. Pay Safely Using a Credit Card

Using a credit card to pay for your rental car can be a smart move. In the UK, Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act protects purchases between £100 and £30,000.  

This means if you have a problem with the car and the rental company doesn’t sort it out, you might be able to claim the money back from your credit card provider. 

9. Familiarise With Local Driving Rules Before Hiring a Car Abroad

Before you hit the road, take some time to brush up on the local traffic laws. Familiarise yourself with things like speed limits and right-of-way rules. You might want to check if the country you’re visiting drives on the left or right side of the road.

10. Always Return the Car On-time

Returning your rental car late can be a major headache, and it can cost you a fortune! Late fees can be hefty, and depending on the rental company, they might even charge you for the entire extra day. So, returning the car an hour or two before the designated time might be wise. 

Wrapping Up: 10 Things UK Locals Should Know Before Hiring a Car Abroad

So, there you have it! 10 things UK residents must know before hiring a car abroad.

Remember: You should always carefully read the rental agreement, inspect the car for damage before driving away, and consider extra insurance for peace of mind.

With these handy tips, you’ll confidently cruise the open road on your next adventure abroad!

Sell your car the smart way!

Get your offers in just 30 seconds

Similar Blogs

View more
Get started right now and exchange your car

Get your highest offer yet the easy way