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Driving in Europe and hire cars

Travel Forums Europe Driving in Europe and hire cars

1. Posted by Vernonandmegan (Budding Member 2 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Hi all,

My husband and I will be travelling Europe in November and December, we are looking at hiring a car at this point. Is it difficult to hire a car in the UK and take it through European countries (France, Belgium, Germany,Switzerland, etc) and is there any important bits of information anyone might have to offer that we could be unaware of? Are border crossings difficult?

I figure with the weather we might want to avoid mountainous areas unless we hire a larger car and/or snow chains.

Thanks in advance!

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5164 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

I would recommend considering only picking up a rental car in France, or at least leaving your previous rental car behind in the UK and getting a new one in France. A UK rental car would be set up for driving on the left side of the road, which I imagine is not the most practical or convenient throughout the rest of Europe where we drive on the right.

There are restrictions on where in Europe you can take a rental car, but mostly those tend to be for heading toward Eastern Europe. The countries you name are all fine. However, rental cars tend to be set up only for following the laws of whichever country you hire it at, not for all the others. For example France requires (from memory, I might be wrong here) two reflective vests for emergency stops, while other countries only require one (and so a car rented somewhere else would only include one), and you could theoretically be fined in France for driving without that second copy. In Germany you're not allowed into the inner city of most big cities unless you have a green "A" sticker certifying that your car meets emission regulations (even when it's obvious that it's a new car which does), but getting those stickers is a major pain when you're a tourist with no idea about this (luckily no one is actually checking for these stickers, so most hapless tourists avoid the minimal fine, and I'd almost recommend just relying on this and ignoring the requirement). Winter tires are required in Germany during the winter, I think, and I believe Austria or Switzerland has some kind of mandatory electronic toll system? I don't know... it's pretty much a mess, really, and unfortunately might need some research for each country to see if there's anything which will actually have to be followed.

Border crossings are non-existent within the Schengen Zone, and so not a problem. Besides a sign informing you of the new speed limits, you should not even notice when you're crossing a border. Note that the UK is not within the Schengen Zone. I don't know what the border procedures are at the tunnel (which I'm assuming you'd take if you're intending to drive all the way with a rental car from the UK).

[ Edit: Edited on 28-Jul-2015, at 10:15 by Sander ]

3. Posted by Unboundly (Budding Member 57 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Sander is right on the LHD issue, might want to check with the rental companies you're considering and see where they stand. You should have no difficulties crossing borders. -- might help you figure out routes and prices.
Haven't done this yet, so I can't be of any more help unfortunately.

4. Posted by Vernonandmegan (Budding Member 2 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Thankyou Sander and Unboundly - exactly the kind of info I need to research further.

I had looked at taking a car ferry from The UK, because I have never been there and forgot about the tunnel! That probably would be the easiest option though.