Can You Rent A Car in Europe with a US Drivers License?

Smiling woman sitting inside a car

Suppose you intend to visit Europe from the USA and are wondering about renting a car in Europe with a US license. In that case, it may be a top priority, especially if you love driving and moving around in your car, rented or otherwise.

Renting a car is a reliable mode of transport and makes a lot of sense if you love traveling and discovering new territories without skipping on your privacy.

You can rent a car in Europe as a US citizen with your passport and driver’s license. However, for some European countries like Austria, Greece, Italy, or Spain, you’ll require an International Driving Permit (IDP). 

This article shows how to rent a car in Europe using a US driver’s license. We also cover all you need to know about renting a car in Europe and what documents you need.

Also read: Which European countries have the cheapest rates for car rental?

Renting a car in Europe with a US license: guide

Top view of apartment buildings with cars parked outside

Driving through Europe’s unique culture, breathtaking landscapes, and intriguing history is the only way to experience it.

Renting a car is generally cost-efficient. It also allows you to discover new territories at your pleasure.

While the transport system in Europe is generally fantastic, hiring a car can save you a chunk of time and money spent on travel costs. As an American, all you need to rent a car in Europe is your passport and driver’s license in most European countries. 

In Greece, Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Slovenia, Poland, and Slovakia, you’ll need an International Driving Permit.

Ideally, an International Driving Permit (IDP) and your driver’s license and passport are required.

While an IDP is not a license in itself, it’s an internationally recognized translation of your license into multiple languages.

It also comes in handy if you get stopped by the police or in the event of an accident, as the insurance company may not cover you without one.

That said, to get an IDP, you need to go to the American Automobile Association (AAA) or Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), where you’ll be required to bring the following:

  • Two passport-type photographs
  • A method of payment for the IDP payment (you can use cash or credit card)
  • Your valid regular license as proof you’re licensed to drive

How do I get an IDP in Europe?

If you can, doing it before you leave for Europe is highly recommended. However, if you’re in Europe already, it’ll take about 5-7 weeks to get it mailed to you. Ensure you have a home base to provide a street address.

Once you get the IDP, it’ll be valid for one year, and you should carry it along with your driver’s license.

What are the age limits for renting a car in Europe?

Happy woman with car key in modern automobile during car trip

Rules may vary by country, the rental company, or the type of car, but usually, most renters prefer to rent a car to someone above the age of 21, preferably 25 years of age. 

However, this may depend on the car type and country. For teenage drivers, some rentals may charge $15-40 per day for supplementary insurance or a tax.

The Czech Republic, Greece, Slovakia, Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Slovenia, Poland, and Turkey may not rent cars to over-70s. For drivers over 80, renting a car in Denmark may be difficult.

Most Irish automobile rental companies charge over-69s more. Some rental firms will rent to drivers aged 76–79 if they can prove their health and road safety. The statutory age restriction in Ireland is 75.

Leasing is more flexible to persons under and beyond the age limit than renting.

Are there any restrictions when crossing borders with a rented car in Europe?

Yes, some renters may have restrictions on eastward movements, considering too many cases of car thefts.

Inform your rental company about your travel plans, especially if they involve restricted areas, ensuring contract compliance.

You may be required to pay extra or take a cheaper car when renting your car if you plan to travel to a country in Eastern or Southeastern Europe. This includes countries with closed borderlines like Croatia or Montenegro. 

Crossing borders may require a green card, evidence of insurance. Avoid taking your rented car to regions forbidden by your rental company, as this may violate the insurance contract.

Can you rent a car in the UK with a US driver’s license?

Black Volkswagen Alltrack

The UK car rental firm simply needs your passport, credit card, and driver’s license if you’re from the US.

However, driving in the UK is more complicated than on US freeways, making it difficult.

Additionally, you’ll be driving on the opposite side as opposed to what you’re used to on American roads. This can make movements quite challenging since your driver’s seat will be on the right-hand side. 

It’s also important to note that in the UK, the most popular mode of slowing people down is roundabouts instead of traffic lights. 

Driving at 17 in the UK is permitted, however some rental businesses charge 17-25-year-olds and 70-80-year-olds more. This is because some insurance companies place these restrictions on age limits.

European countries that recognize US driver’s license

Some English-speaking European countries like Northern Ireland, Wales, England, Ireland, and Scotland accept the US driver’s license.

An IDP is mandatory for car rentals in various European nations, such as Austria, Greece, Croatia, and Spain.

When hiring a car, the rental companies will provide you with the license requirements you should provide when booking.

What documents do you need to rent and drive a car in Europe?

Uk Driving License

Generally, Americans and Canadians only require a valid driver’s license and a passport when renting a car in Europe.

However, rules may vary from country to country. You need certain documents to avoid trouble if you want to hire and drive a car in Europe. These documents may include the following:

  • An EU driving license
  • Your passport for identification
  • An international Driving Permit to complement your passport and driver’s license
  • A translation of the national driving license into the official language of the country you’re driving and the translated license
  • A driving license under Annex 6 of the International Convention on Road Traffic of 1968
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