Written by 3:37 am Wealth Building Views: [tptn_views]

Renting a Car Abroad: Don’t Get Taken for a Ride

“Throw the keys through the kiosk’s open window. We’ll get the automobile once we open later”: Those barely unorthodox drop-off instructions I once received from a Hertz manager in Croatia illustrate among the differences U.S. travelers might encounter when renting a automobile abroad.

It pays to familiarize yourself with the local policies and protocols ahead of time. Here’s what you should know before you accept the keys.

If you’ve a U.S. driver’s license, a global driving permit is officially required (along along with your state-issued license) in Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Italy, Japan, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain and Thailand, although its use isn’t universally enforced. It’s also idea to hold an I.D.P., a booklet — barely greater than a passport — that translates a U.S. license into 10 languages, when renting a vehicle in a rustic whose language isn’t written in Roman letters.

An I.D.P. costs $20, is valid for one 12 months and is issued to any applicant by a neighborhood AAA office (the one issuer within the United States authorized by the State Department). You must apply for one within the country that issued your regular driver’s license.

Car rental brands familiar to Americans operate throughout the world; those include Alamo, Avis, Hertz, National, Sixt and others. You can reserve a vehicle through an organization’s U.S. website or through a rental aggregator reminiscent of Autoeurope.com, to match rates.

The overseas branches of U.S. corporations may not all the time be owned by the parent company. The discussion boards on web sites like Tripadvisor abound with commenters calling out franchise operations of major chains for not providing the service they expect from a U.S. operation.

Franchise or not, disputes with a foreign branch should all the time be directed to the U.S. customer support operation, based on Hertz and Autoeurope.

The minimum age to rent a automobile varies by country and company, and it’s indicated on each rental agency’s website. Most countries charge a “young driver” surcharge for renters under 25. Some countries, reminiscent of France and Germany, allow (but don’t require) corporations to rent to 18-year-olds, but 21 is the everyday minimum rental age for many.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Hertz won’t rent a vehicle in Northern Ireland to anyone older than 79; those from 75 to 79 should have a health care provider’s letter stating that they’re in good health, in addition to a letter from their insurance company proving that they haven’t had an accident inside the past five years.

Cars with manual transmissions are still popular in lots of European countries, so if you happen to’re comfortable driving one, select that option. Renting a automobile with an automatic transmission can typically cost a further 30 percent or more.

Many U.S.-issued bank cards cover damage to your international rental automobile if you happen to’re in an accident, so long as you charge the complete charter fee to the cardboard. Some issuers also require that the identical card be used to make the reservation for the insurance to be valid. That collision coverage is primary, unlike within the United States, where your personal vehicle insurance would cover the prices while your rental insurance would pay for any deductible amount. Even in case your bank card covers damage to your rental vehicle, you might be answerable for the associated fee of injury to every other vehicle if the accident is deemed to be your fault.

Be warned that standard rental insurance for American Express cardholders isn’t available in Australia, Italy and New Zealand, and other cards can have different restrictions.

Before you go, learn each country’s rules, including the meaning of varied road signs and markings. For instance, just because you see other vehicles parked with their wheels on the sidewalk — common in European cities with narrow streets — that doesn’t mean that it’s legal to accomplish that.

Autoeurope.com has driving suggestions for dozens of nations, not all in Europe, and Britain’s Automobile Association lists road rules for six European countries. Don’t forget that many places besides Britain drive on the left (including Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and diverse Caribbean islands). And if you happen to get a ticket, don’t ignore it. The rental agency will eventually collect from you, together with an administrative fee.

Seatbelt laws are sometimes strictly enforced, with a separate tremendous — sometimes issued on the spot — for every occupant not wearing one.

Finally, many European cities restrict driving in central or historic areas to residents only or those driving low-emission vehicles. Entering these limited-traffic zone areas can incur heavy fines, plus an added fee out of your rental company. Watch for signs and gates (commonly marked “ZTL” in Italy).

Diesel engines are quite common in other countries; putting diesel in a gas engine or vice versa may cause serious — and expensive — damage.

While fuel pumps are color-coded to point what they dispense, those colours vary by country and region. Fuel requirements are listed on a sticker on the within the filler door.

In the United States, black indicates gasoline while green designates diesel. In Iceland and other European countries, it’s the other: green for gasoline and black for diesel.

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