Skip Navigation

Car Hire - License question

Travel Forums North America Car Hire - License question

1. Posted by AlanOh (Budding Member 5 posts) 11y

AlanOh has indicated that this thread is about USA


I'm planning on hiring a car with a friend to drive around California and the surrounding area in September this year.

The problem is I just obtained my driving license (here in the UK) in June. I have read in various places that to hire a car in the States, I need to have held the driving license for 1 year.

Is that the law over there? Or is it just something rental companies require? And do they all require it? Is there any way I can get around this? I *really* want to be able to drive out there, it's one of the main reasons I got my license!

The guy I'm going with has held a license for 5 years.

I'd appreciate any info/advice. Oh, also, I'm 25 years old.



2. Posted by Lugor79 (Full Member 70 posts) 11y

I think the best answer is to check with the individual rental car company (Budget, Thrift, etc...). However general rule is you have to be 21 and over and you must be insured. They may make exceptions for foreign licences. However I would double check, I have a German buddy here who has told me that he can't drive here with his German license. Not sure why.

3. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 11y

Hey Alan!

I just did a search of the license requirements for rental agencies in the US. The larger companies (Alamo, Hertz, Avis, Budget, National) require the person renting the car to be over 21, have a valid driver's license in the country of origin and at least 12 months driving experience. The exception is Ireland, where 2 years experience is required for Alamo and National rentals. (Don't ask me why...) Some of the smaller companies just require the driver to be 21 and that the name on the license match your passport. If your license is printed in a foreign language (not in English - which should not be a problem coming from the UK), then an International Driver's Permit is required.

I would have your travel companion rent the car if you go with one of the larger businesses. Otherwise, you shouldn't have too much trouble. The larger agencies will be somewhat cheaper than the smaller/local ones, but you may come across a deal. You never know...

One way to get around it may be to have your friend rent the car but state there will be two drivers. Again, I believe the rental charge, and definitely the insurance charge, will increase with 2 drivers. If your friend is the primary driver, you may be able to be accepted as the secondary even though you have not had your license as long as the requirement period.

I would call the different agencies (Hertz, etc) locally to see if they may have information to help you. They are international after all... Or, go online and check out the different companies for California rentals.

[ Edit: Fixed typos ]

4. Posted by jzurdogo (Full Member 14 posts) 11y

I did the same research as Isadora, however, I came up with a different opinion. I checked with Alamo, Hertz, Avis, and Dollar. The requirements are that you are 25 and have a valid drivers license for the duration of the rental. The only place where there is mention of a driving "experience" requirment is in the Alamo policies, which state that:

"Within the European Union, all drivers must produce a current driver's license from the county of residence that has been valid for the last 12 months. An international driver's license is only accepted together with a valid driver's license of the country of residence."

I take this to mean that 12 months experience is only required when renting a car withing the EU. No other rental agency guidelines mention an "experience" requirement. If you have questions, I would call the U.S. customer service for the company from which you want to rent the car. This is the only way to be sure that you'll qualify.


5. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 11y

Hey Alan!

See how the information differs about the requirements?! I found one set of info and Jed found another. I did another search this morning and found even more differing requirements.

I agree with Jed completely - call the companies to get a clarification of what they really require and if you can qualify as a driver.

The internet is a great place for information, but it is also good for getting conflicting responses. Good luck!!!

6. Posted by AlanOh (Budding Member 5 posts) 11y

Wow, thanks for all of your replies! You've been very helpful.

I've actually driven across the States before with another friend (ok, I wasn't actually doing the driving) and I never heard anything about this 1 year requirement.

The problem arose when I tried to book a vehicle on (my mother gets a 30% discount with them!) and they were adamant that NO car rental companies will rent a car to anyone who has been driving for less than 12 months. Crazy.

I think I will do what you suggested - call the companies directly. Maybe some require it, hopefully some don't.

The internet is a great place for information, but it is also good for getting conflicting responses.

Haha, absolutely. The most difficult thing these days is sorting the wheat from the chaff :)

I'll let you know how I get on.

Thanks again!!

7. Posted by bethy (Full Member 49 posts) 11y

I actually find the smaller companies are cheaper than the main companies (budget, thrifty etc). Mind you I am up in Vancouver renting a car this weekend. And they also seem less anal about how long you've had your license for.
good luck, have fun

8. Posted by AlanOh (Budding Member 5 posts) 11y

Hi there, just a follow up on my original post:

I got the car with no problems or questions at all! (And had a great time). Our company was Alamo.

But the guy I went with got slapped with a $420 young persons bill though. Ouch!

9. Posted by nlbrad (First Time Poster 1 posts) 10y


if anyone has this problem in the future, have no restictions on how long u have held your licence.


Post 10 was removed by a moderator