Hiring a car abroad

If you’re planning on hiring and driving a car abroad, there are a few things you’ll need to know.

And, with changes to the rules around driving licences coming into effect last year, its now even more important to be clear on what you’ll have to pack.

In summer 2015, the DVLA scrapped the paper section of the UK driving licence - this could have a direct impact on those picking up rental cars in foreign countries.

Five things you need to know about the licence changes:

1. When did the changes come into effect and what are they?

The DVLA announced in 2014 that from June 8th 2015, it would be scrapping the paper counterpart of the photocard driving licence and that all penalty points would be recorded electronically.

2. How do the licence changes affect car rentals abroad?

If you want to hire a car abroad, as the paper section of the licence will no longer be valid, you’ll need to bring a special code with you, which can be used by the car rental company to check your records for any points or convictions.

3. How do I get the code?

To obtain a code, drivers should log on to the DVLA website via its ‘Share Driving Licence’ portal before they travel which will be launched when the changes take effect. A phone line will be available for those who do not have Internet access.

4. How long does this code last?

Once you have a code, it will remain valid for 21 days. If you’re travelling for a longer period of time or across different countries, there’s a chance you’ll need to log on to the site while away, or contact the DVLA to have it renewed.

5. Is there an alternative?

If you want to drive abroad once the changes are in place, you’d be best advised to have the code to hand. However, it isn’t an official requirement, so you may find the car hire company you use doesn’t even ask for it. A telephone line is also being put in place for those firms to call and check your details over the phone if they would prefer, but having a code in advance may prove simpler in the long run.

family with young child on tropical beach with palm trees

Swinton Travel Insurance

Explore our online exclusive single trip and annual multi-trip travel insurance policies and build a quote to suit you.

Explore your options

Did you know?

Self-drive rental cars are unavailable to tourists in Vietnam, but cars with a driver/guide are available. This option can prove affordable at around £50 per day and let you experience the area with local knowledge.

Some tips on car hire:

If you’re travelling, car hire can be a really convenient option, especially if you’re hoping to see as much of the place as possible without relying on public transport.

It can also be an affordable option too, but there are a few things you might want to keep in mind if you want to save money on car hire and get the most out of it:

Book in advance:

Shopping around for the best car hire deals may seem obvious, but that doesn’t stop many people from leaving it until the last minute - or even waiting until they arrive at their destination.

Booking in advance can save you serious money, which could give you more cash to play with during the trip itself.

Check the small print:

It’s important to know exactly what you’re paying for, by making sure the terms of the car hire agreement make sense.

It may feel like a bit of a chore to read all the small print, but if it saves you from falling foul of things like fuel or mileage limits, it could be very wise indeed.

Make a note of all damage:

Before driving away in your hire car, it’s essential you thoroughly check it over for any damage, and get this noted down on the paperwork.

While it’s likely someone will do this for you, if they happen to miss a scuff or scratch it could end up costing you later. So, take the time to double check, and, if necessary, consider taking photographs of the condition it’s in before you get behind the wheel.

Make sure everything that’s meant to be in the vehicle (such as a spare wheel) is there too.

Looking for something else?

Click to share

Read more about driving