Renting a car abroad

Planning to rent a car abroad? Make sure you read the small print! Prevent unpleasant surprises and unnecessary additional costs by being aware of important details regarding online booking, insurance, and picking up and returning your rental vehicle.

Your rights when renting a car

In the EU, extensive regulations protect you when renting a car in one of the member states, including Norway and Iceland. You are entitled to clear information and a fair contract. Also, you can involve a dispute committee if you have a dispute with the car rental company. 

European Consumer Centre
The European Consumer Centre provides legal advice regarding renting a car abroad and mediates disputes if you cannot resolve the conflict directly with the rental company. With the information, tips, templates, and checklists on this page, you can prevent any hassle with the rental company or unnecessary additional charges. 

Infographic Renting a car abroad, ECC Netherlands

 

Booking a rental car online? It pays to compare prices!

It pays to go online and compare the rates of different car rental firms before you leave. Before booking a rental car, always read the policy and rental conditions to ensure you select the best or cheapest choice for you.

Booking and insurance rental car

What should I be aware of when booking a rental car?

If you rent a car abroad, it is best to pay attention to certain details. You can use the ECC Checklist: booking a rental car (offline or online) to make sure you’re well-prepared. 

#checklist-booking-rental-car

Copied to clipboard!

How can I book a rental car safely and at a fair price?

If you are going to rent a car, you’re probably looking for safe and cheap options. Sometimes, advertised car rental prices are not fully transparent. What seems like a great price at first could turn out to be expensive if a host of ambiguous fees are charged. 

Tips from the ECC

  • Check the car rental company’s reputation before you book online. If you see a lot of negative reviews, look for a different company. 
  • Take your time to find the right car rental company and read their terms and conditions. Read the small print to prevent unforeseen additional charges.

#booking-rental-car-safely-fair-price

Copied to clipboard!

What is the difference between a car rental company and a broker?

In the car rental business, there are car rental companies and brokers. Brokers do not have cars. Instead, they will book a rental car for you through a local car rental firm. In principle, if you have a dispute with the car rental firm, the broker is responsible for fulfilment of the lease agreement. In reality, the broker will often refer you to the local car rental firm.

Complaint about a car rental firm

Do you have a complaint about a car rental company? Did you book the rental car via a broker? Then send your complaint to both, in writing. Are you unsure what you should do? Are the car rental company and the broker not responding to your complaint? Please feel free to contact one of our legal specialists.

Tips from the ECC

  • Do you book a rental car via a broker? Be aware that you are in fact entering into two contracts: one with the broker and one with the car rental company. If you book a car via a broker, always ask for a copy of both contracts. The contracts may have different conditions. Make sure you prevent unpleasant surprises when picking up the rental car. Double-check to make sure you are in fact charged the price you expect

#car-rental-company-versus-broker

Copied to clipboard!

What should I be aware of when selecting a fuel plan?

When booking a rental car, make sure you look carefully at the fuel regulation. Car rental companies use different fuel schemes. Sometimes it seems that you have a good deal and afterwards you will be confronted with all sorts of hidden costs that are suddenly charged. Three common fuel schemes with advantages and disadvantages:   

Returning the rental car with an full tank

Rent the car with a full tank and return it with a full tank. This is often the cheapest option. You pay for the fuel you use by filling up with fuel. Make sure the tank is full when you pick up the car and when you return it. Find the gas station nearest to the car rental company. If the car rental company thinks the tank is not entirely full, they may charge you extra for topping up fuel.  

  • Take a picture of the fuel gauge when you pick up the car and when you return it.

Returning the rental car with an empty tank 

Pick up the car with a full tank and return it with an empty tank. This is often the most expensive option. You are paying for a full tank of fuel in advance. If you do not use some of the fuel, which is usually the case, you will not receive a refund. 

  • Take a picture of the fuel gauge when you pick up the car and when you return the car.

Paying for fuel used

You pay the car rental company for the fuel you used. This seems an affordable option. However, many hidden costs can be charged, for example service fees. The car rental company could also charge a high price for the fuel used. 

  • Take a picture of the fuel gauge when you pick up the car and when you return the car.
     

#selecting-fuel-plan

Copied to clipboard!

What should I be aware of regarding insurance of a rental car?

Planning to rent a car abroad? Carefully check which insurance coverage is included in your car rental contract. Renting a car abroad is never covered by a Dutch travel or liability insurance policy. 

Tips from the ECC

  • Check which insurance coverage you really need abroad, and which are included in the car rental contract. Also carefully check which costs are covered by the existing or offered insurance policy/policies. This serves to prevent you from paying for double coverage. 
     

#insurance-car-rental

Copied to clipboard!

What should I be aware of regarding the excess?

The amount of the policy excess (or deductible) depends on the country where you rent the car and differs per car rental company. For some car rental companies, the excess is included in the rental price. Others may give you the option to pay for an excess. Ensure you are fully informed regarding the amount of the excess and the relevant rules. This way, you prevent unpleasant surprises if your rental car incurs damage. 

Tips from the ECC

  • Read the policy conditions carefully. Even if you reduce the excess to zero by taking out extra insurance, you are often still liable for damage to the windscreen, the chassis, and the tyres.

#policy-excess

Copied to clipboard!

Which conditions apply to drivers when renting a car?

Are you renting a car abroad and are you not the only driver? Then you have an obligation to advise the car rental company in advance. Sometimes car rental companies charge a fee for each additional driver. Is someone else driving the car, other than a driver named on the car rental contract? Then you may not be insured.

Car rental companies often apply a minimum age for the driver/drivers or a minimum period of having possessed a driver’s licence. Drivers below or above a certain age sometimes pay a surcharge.

#rules-and-conditions-drivers

Copied to clipboard!

Picking up a rental car? Bring a credit card! 

Are you renting a car abroad? Make sure you bring the right paperwork, a valid driver’s licence, a copy of your booking or reservation and a credit card. You must have enough credit on your credit card to book the rental car.

Picking up rental car

What should I be aware of when picking up the rental car?

If you rent a car abroad, it is best to pay attention to certain details when picking up the car. Use the ECC checklist: picking up a rental car to prevent unnecessary additional charges.

#checklist-picking-up-rental-car

Copied to clipboard!

Do I need a credit card to rent a car?

Most car rental companies require a credit card for car rentals. In addition to payment of the rental amount, the credit card is used as a guarantee for the deposit, the excess, any damages, and traffic fines. 

Tips from the ECC

  • Make sure you have enough credit available on your credit card. Most car rental companies reserve an amount on your card for the deposit. This amount frequently exceeds € 1,000. The amount of the deposit is not released until you return the rental car. 
  • Make sure the name on the car rental contract is the same name as that on the credit card. Sometimes the car rental company will not hand over the rental car if the name on the car rental contract does not match the name on the credit card.

#credit-card-rental-car

Copied to clipboard!

Is it mandatory to close extra insurance policies when picking up the car?

If you book a rental car via a broker, you are actually entering into two contracts. A local car rental company often presses you to take out supplementary insurance when picking up the car. Such insurance is usually not necessary, as you may have covered the same risks with the contract you have with the broker. 

Tips from the ECC

  • Don’t let the car rental company talk you into unnecessary insurance policies. Be prepared and take as much documentation with you to make sure you are well-prepared. Do not sign anything unless you are certain you need the insurance cover that the car rental company tries to sell you. 
  •  Walk around the car with the car rental company employee and check for any damage. Take pictures or video of any imperfections. Do not sign for acceptance of the rental car until the employee has set out any damage on the car on the contract or the issue form.

Template refund for double cover

Did you have to take out double insurance from the car rental company employee because otherwise he/she would not let you take the rental car? You can get a refund for these costs. This must be done in writing. For this purpose, you can use the ECC template letter - Claim refund for double insurance. In this letter, state that you had to buy a double insurance policy on a mandatory basis and that you disagree with this. 

Submitting a complaint with the ECC

Is the car rental company not responding to your complaint? Then send your complaint about the car rental company to the European Consumer Centre. Our legal specialists will assess if ECC can accept your complaint for processing. If yes, we will mediate between you and the car rental company. Our legal assistance is free of charge. Read more about our work method.

 

#insurance-policies-picking-up-rental-car

Copied to clipboard!

How do I check the rental car for damage during pick-up?

Are you picking up a rental car? Always check for any damage before signing the car rental contract and accepting the car. If the car is damaged (scratches or dents)? Ensure that the car rental company employee writes this down on the contract or the issue form. Take pictures or a video of the car to ensure you can demonstrate that this damage was present when picking up the car. Just to make sure, also take pictures of the fuel gauge and the mileage display.

#damage-check-picking-up-rental-car

Copied to clipboard!

I am unable to pick up the rental car at the agreed time. What to do now?

If you cannot pick up the rental car at the agreed time, for example because your flight was delayed, the car rental company may charge you extra fees and/or asks you to conclude a new car rental contract. The car rental company reserves the right to rent the car reserved for you to a different customer. For this reason, if you have a potential or actual delay, contract the car rental company as soon as possible. In most cases you can reach an accommodation. 

Tips from the ECC

  • When booking, always enter an indicative time, such as between one and two hours after landing. Picking up a rental car before the agreed time is often no problem for the car rental company.

#delay-pick-up-rental-car

Copied to clipboard!

Road assistance? Understand what to do! 

Accidents do happen. If you rent a car abroad and you are involved in an accident or your rental car breaks down on the way, it is important that you know what to do. 

Road assistance rental car

My rental car breaks down on the road. What to do now?

If you booked a rental car and your car breaks down on the road, please contact the car rental company immediately, and/or the road assistance service, in accordance with the instructions of the car rental company when you picked up the car. The car rental company has a duty to resolve any technical malfunction. 

Tips from the ECC

  • Always make sure you have the car rental contract with you. This will set out the contractual details of the car rental company and/or the breakdown service you can call if your car breaks down.  
  • If you have not been able to make use of the rental car for one or more days due to a technical malfunction, you can submit a claim to the car rental company. The right to compensation lapses if the malfunction is your own fault. 
  • If you take the rental car to a garage, then have the mechanic write down an analysis of the technical malfunction. Take pictures and keep the bill and receipts. You can attach this to your claim to the car rental company at a later stage.  

Are you unable to return the rental car in due time because of a necessary repair? This is classed as force majeure. The car rental company should not charge you any extra fees for this.
 

#break-down-rental-car

Copied to clipboard!

What can I do if I am involved in a car accident?

If you are involved in an accident with your rental car, then make sure that all parties involved are taken to safety as soon as possible. Subsequently, call the local emergency services. Also contact the car rental company. The company is responsible for further transport or replacement of the rental car and the communication with the insurance companies of all parties involved. 

Tips from the ECC

  • Take pictures of the accident situation. This can serve as proof for settlement of the damage. Also keep the police report and the lease agreement.
  • Check if you have a European claim form with you. You need that if you are involved in an accident and you want to submit an injury claim. Most insurers require such proof. 

#car-accident

Copied to clipboard!

Returning the rental car? Complete a final check!

Is it time to return your rental car? Make sure you return the car on time. Make a final thorough check. Collect evidence that you are returning the rental car damage free and in due time. This prevents any discussions and hassle after returning the car. 

Returning rental car

I was late in returning the car. Can the car rental company charge me extra?

Be on time returning the rental car. If you are late returning the car, the car rental company may charge extra fees. Car rental companies tend to charge for a full day even if the car is just one hour late. This is a waste of money. 

#late-returning-rental-car

Copied to clipboard!

What should I be aware of when returning the rental car?

If you rent a car abroad, it is best to pay attention to a few details when returning the car. Use the ECC checklist: returning a rental car to prevent unnecessary subsequent hassle.

#checklist-returning-rental-car

Copied to clipboard!

Should I do another damage check when returning the rental car?

When returning the rental car, it is important to do a damage check with an employee of the car rental company. Walk around the car together and take your time. 

Tips from the ECC

  • Take pictures or video of the car. This gives you proof if the car rental company accuses you of having caused damage to the rental car. 
  • Preferably, return the rental car during opening hours. This way, an employee of the car rental company can issue a signed acceptance form or indemnification statement. This proves that the car was returned in the same state as it was picked up. 

Template letter objection damage rental car

Has the car rental company wrongly accused you of damaging the rental car? Can you prove that you did not cause this damage? Then tell them you object! This must be done in writing. For this purpose, you can use the ECC template letter - objection damage rental car.

Submitting a complaint with the ECC

Is the car rental company not responding to your complaint? Then send your complaint about the car rental company to the European Consumer Centre. Our legal specialists will assess whether the ECC can accept your complaint for processing. If yes, we will mediate between you and the car rental company. Our legal assistance is free of charge. Read more about our working method.
 

#damage-check-returning-rental-car

Copied to clipboard!

Conflict with a car rental company? This is what you can do!

A dispute may arise between you and the foreign car rental company if you rent a car abroad. It is important for you to be aware of your rights and the steps you could take against the car rental company.

Conflict car rental company

The car rental company retained some or all of the deposit unjustified. What to do now?

A car rental company may not retain some or all of the deposit from you unless there is a good reason and substantiation. Always ask the car rental company for a specification of the charges. If a conflict regarding deposit costs arises upon acceptance of the rental car, and you are unable to resolve it immediately, then pay ‘under protest’. This is done by writing ‘under protest’ on your receipt and having it signed by the employee of the car rental company. 

Template letter refund deposit car rental 

Send a complaint to the car rental company as soon as possible and request a refund of the charges. This must be done in writing. For this purpose, you can use the ECC template letter - Claim deposit car rental. This indicates that an amount of your deposit was not returned without justification and that you did not agree with this deduction. 

Submitting a complaint with the ECC

Is the car rental company not responding to your complaint? Then send your complaint about the car rental company to the European Consumer Centre. Our legal specialists will assess whether the ECC can accept your complaint for processing. If yes, we will mediate between you and the car rental company. Our legal assistance is free of charge. Read more about our work method.
 

#unjustified-deposit

Copied to clipboard!

The car rental company has charged extra fees to my credit card. What to do now?

A car rental company should not charge amounts from your credit card without your permission. If you return from your trip and see that fees were charged to your credit card without justification, act immediately. You can do the following:

  • When returning the car and after the damage check of the rental car, always ask for an indemnification statement. This prevents any subsequent discussions. 
  • Do you see a suspicious transaction on your credit card statement or bank account? Always immediately object to the car rental company and/or the broker where you made the booking in writing. For this purpose, you can use the ECC template letter - objection unjustified invoice
  • Is the car rental company or broker not responding? Then contact your credit card company to dispute the payment within three months of the charges. Provide supporting evidence (pictures, videos, indemnification statement etc.)
  • Then send your complaint about the car rental company to the European Consumer Centre. Our legal specialists will assess if your complaint can be accepted. If yes, we will mediate between you and the car rental company. Our legal assistance is free of charge. Read more about our work method.

#unjustified-charge-credit-card

Copied to clipboard!

I have a dispute with a car rental company. What to do now?

If you have a dispute or difference with a car rental company, for example because you are wrongly accused of causing damage to the rental car, you do not have to accept this. This is what you can do: 

  • Send your complaint to the car rental company and the broker if you booked the rental car via a broker in writing. For this purpose, you can use the ECC template letter - complaint car rental company
  • Are you unable to resolve the situation directly? Is the rental car part of a package deal you booked with a travel agent? Check if the travel organisation is a member of ANVR. If yes, you can submit your complaint to the Travel Disputes Committee. 
  • Does the car rental company have a registered office in another EU member state, Norway of Iceland? Then also send your complaint about the car rental company to the European Consumer Centre. Our legal specialists will assess if your complaint can be accepted. If yes, we will mediate between you and the car rental company. Our legal assistance is free of charge. Read more about our work method.
  • Did you rent a car from Europcar, Enterprise, AVIS, Budget, Maggiore, Hertz, Thrifty, Dollar, Alamo, National, Firefly or Sixt? Do you have a dispute? Then you can submit your complaint to ECRCS free of charge. This is the European Car Rental Disputes Committee.

#dispute-car-rental-company

Copied to clipboard!

What can the European Consumer Centre do to help me?

Do you have a complaint about a car rental company established in another EU member state, Norway of Iceland? Are you unable to resolve the complaint directly with the company? Then you can submit your complaint to the European Consumer Centre (ECC). Our legal specialists will assess if ECC can accept your complaint for processing. If yes, we will mediate between you and the car rental company. Our legal assistance is free of charge. 

Checklist for submitting your complaint

Do a preliminary check to see if we can accept your complaint for processing: 

  • Do you have a complaint about a company in another EU member state, Norway, or Iceland?
  • Did you buy the product as a consumer? That means not for business purposes.
  • Did you submit a complaint to the company by email or by post?

Did you answer ‘yes’ to all three questions above? Then send your complaint to info@eccnederland.nl. You will receive a response to your email within 5 working days. 

Assessing your complaint

Be complete in submitting your complaint. Our legal specialists need as much information and documentation as possible for optimal assessment of your complaint. This may include: 

  • your details;
  • details of the car rental company;
  • a clear description of your complaint;
  • the solution you require;
  • copies of the car rental contract;
  • copy of the receipt/invoice you paid;
  • correspondence between you and the car rental company. 

Work method ECC

Do you want to know more about the ECC’s work method, or do you need assistance in submitting your complaint? Have a look at the page explaining the activities of the ECC or contact our legal specialists. 

#sumit-complaint-ECC

Copied to clipboard!