Driving your hire car across borders

Touring Europe with a hire car is pretty easy thanks to the Schengen Agreement. This is part of an EU law that has removed border controls in 13 EU countries, making touring Europe by car an enjoyable experience. However, not every country has these agreements, so read on to find out where and what to expect.

In general, if you’re returning your car to the point of collection, then you shouldn’t have to pay a difference. If you’re returning your car to anywhere that isn’t the original point of rental, then you’ll probably have to pay a standard one-way rental charge (but then again you’d have to pay this if you were going one-way in the same country). Obviously, the destination country will have to be covered by the rental agency as well, so be sure to check this out too.

Some companies may insist you get International Insurance Assistance or European Roadside Assistance and some will require you to tell them that you’ll be leaving the country with their car as a courtesy.

One thing to ensure though, is that your driving license will be honoured in any country you plan on visiting. It may be a good idea to get an International Driving Permit (IDP) which acts as a translation of your license in 10 languages – good for over 150 countries of the UN.

So while it’s unlikely that you’ll have any trouble, to be sure why not call the Nova Car Hire Customer Care Team and they will look into it for you.

The two biggest factors in taking a car hire across borders are A) the car hire company you rent with and B) the country you rent the car in.

Our Rental Partners

The Alamo Car Rental Company serves France, Canada and the US with Nova Car Hire.
Alamo has a policy of insisting that the rental is returned to the country of origin, but you can drive your rental across borders assuming you will return.

In North America (Canada or the USA) you may not drive south to Mexico nor take the car off the mainland (even to Honolulu).

Canadian citizens may not drive US rental back into Canada.

In Europe, you’re not permitted to drive into Eastern Europe or Morocco. You can go to Corsica but you have to return with the car.

The Europcar Car Rental Company serves Australia and New Zealand, Thailand and Malaysia, UAE, South Africa and Kenya, North America, most of Europe with Nova Car Hire.

From Australia and New Zealand you may not take the cars outside of the country.

In Thailand and Malaysia you can only return to original point of rental.

From South Africa there is a limited selection of acceptable locations but in Kenya you may not leave the country.

In Europe most international one-ways are acceptable but be sure to specify ahead of time and it will cost extra. The Isles of Great Britain and Ireland are an exception and travel off the islands is not permitted.

Canadian citizens may not drive US rental back into Canada.

Thrifty, Sixt and Budget
These Car Rental Companies serve large networks that stretch throughout the globe. It would be impossible to list the restrictions for all of them but the above examples for Alamo and Europcar are a good guideline. Thrifty is mostly a North American network so remember that Canadian citizens may not drive US rental into Canada.

Budget is also a mostly a North American network and you can drive freely from the US to Canada and to Mexico, but for Mexico you’ll need Mexican Automobile Liability Insurance (This is required by Mexican law).

If you need to know more just contact our friendly Car Hire Agents and they’ll look into it for you.

Countries with restrictions

It would be impossible to list all restrictions that you may encounter travelling around the world but here are a few examples. Generally you will have to carry with you all valid documents for your rental vehicle including insurance and car registration.

As you may have seen above, Canadians citizens may not drive US rentals from the US into Canada.

In Mexico, it’s the law that all cars have Mexican Automobile Liability Insurance, and you’ll have to get it before you cross the border. If you tell your rental company you plan to cross the border (assuming they allow it) they may be able to sell you the insurance to aid in convenience.

In Europe, the Schengen Agreement means you’ll be able to travel freely between countries.  Remember, that not all of Europe is part of the agreement, though much of Eastern Europe is set to implement the agreement at various dates in the future. Both the UK and Ireland have decided to stay out of the agreement, but you won’t have to show your passport when travelling between these countries as they are part of a common travel area together with the Isle of Man and Channel Islands. You’ll have to show your passport when leaving this common travel area though.

With the division of Cyprus, border crossings are a little more complex. You can bring a rental from the south to the north but not vice versa. Driving insurance bought in one half of the island will not work on the other half, so you’ll have to get a second insurance policy for the second side.


If you need to know any more information about crossing borders or car hire in general, just give our Car Hire Agents a call, or simply leave your question or comment in the box below and we’ll get back to you right away.