What Should You Know About Renting a Car When You’re Visiting the UK?

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    If you have plans to visit the UK, you may be thinking about hiring a car. But, as you’ll learn in this post, this isn’t always as simple as you might think!

    The UK is blessed with plenty of transport options which can comfortably take you from A to B in no time at all. But, if you want the freedom of being able to travel wherever you want, and whenever you want, the best available option is to drive!

    If you’re only visiting the UK from Costa Rica for a short period, you’re unlikely to want to buy a car, so renting is the most sensible option. But what does renting a car in the UK actually entail, and what sort of driving rules should you be aware of?

    After all, the last thing you want is to be caught unaware of your legal obligations when renting a vehicle in the UK, and having to enlist the services of a drink or drug driving solicitor! In this post, we’ll providing answers to some of the most important questions related to renting a car when you’re visiting the UK. Be sure to read on below to find out more…

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    5 Things to Know About Renting a Car in the UK

    1.     The Rules of the Road Will be Different

    If you weren’t already aware, the rules of the road in the UK are very different to what you may already be used to in Costa Rica. For starters, vehicles in the UK drive on the left-hand side of the road, which could be very disorientating if you’ve spent your life driving on the right.

    There are plenty of additional quirks to driving in the UK that you should make sure you’re clued up on before you think about renting. For instance, you may be introduced to roundabouts for the first time and road signs may appear very confusing at first – not ideal.

    To make sure you know your way around the UK’s road system, it’s worth getting your hands on the latest version of the Highway Code. While it isn’t exactly a thrilling read, it will prove to be very useful when you get behind the wheel for the first time.

    2.     There is Often a Minimum and Maximum Age

    In the UK, you can legally start driving from the age of 17. However, many car rental companies set their minimum rental age at 25, which could prove to be a sticking point.

    Some companies do offer rental packages to people aged between 17 and 25, but they often incur additional fees. The same principle also applies to drivers aged between 70 and 80.

    The reason for this is likely because insurance is much higher for young adults and older drivers, meaning there is usually a premium to pay. The premium will vary from company to company, so it’s always worth shopping around to see if you can secure a good deal if you fall in either category.

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    3.     You’ll Need Lots of Documentation

    Unfortunately, renting a car in the UK isn’t always a simple process – you’re probably going to need more than just you driving licence. In Costa Rica, you’re a non-EU resident, so you’re going to need plenty of additional documentation before you’ll be handed the keys to your rental car, including but not limited to:

    • A valid passport
    • An International Driving Permit (IDP): this is a legal requirement that needs to be processed before you travel.
    • Proof of address: this could be a utility bill or bank statement.
    • Proof of your travel dates: this might include flight tickets or hotel bookings.

    4.     Car Hire Insurance is Necessary

    It’s an extra expense, but under no circumstances will you be able to rent a car without getting insured. The UK has notoriously high insurance rates, regardless of the level of coverage.

    On that note, there are various different types of insurance you can get, so you should be aware of what they all mean:

    • Third Party Cover (TPC): this covers accident-related damage to anything (or anyone) outside of the car. This isn’t damage to the actual car itself.
    • Vehicle Damage Cover: this covers the damages to the rental car.
    • Vehicle Theft Cover: this covers the cost of replacing the car, or car parts, if it’s stolen. This is often optional.
    • Excess insurance: Optional insurance which can protect you from excess costs you are required to pay in the event the hire car is stolen or damaged.

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    5.     Strict Drink and Drug Driving Rules

    In the UK, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is an offence which is treated incredibly seriously. There are clear limits in place when it comes to alcohol, though it’s not possible to say exactly how many drinks this equals, as it’s different for each person.

    To find out more about exactly how much alcohol is considered to take you over the limit, you can check the UK government website.

    It’s illegal to drive if you’re considered ‘unfit’ to do so because you’re using legal or illegal drugs. Even if you’re driving has not been affected by drugs, if you have them in your system, this is also an offence.

    If you’re ever suspected of driving under the influence, the police will usually stop you and ask you to complete a field impairment test or take a sample of your breath.

    So, be warned if you plan to rent a car in the UK – you need to make sure that you always stay within the law, or you could face severe consequences.

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    Are You Planning to Rent a Car in the UK
    Jan Baborak via Unsplash

    Are You Planning to Rent a Car in the UK?

    These are some of the most important tips you should be aware of if you plan on renting a car when visiting the UK. Driving in a brand-new country can be a little overwhelming at first but, once you’ve got your head around some of the finer details, it should start to come naturally.

    Have you ever rented a car in the UK before? Are there any other tips you think others should be aware of? If so, feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts.

    Photo credits:

    Photo 1 – Lukas Skoe via Unsplash

    Photo 2 – Why Kei via Unsplash

    Photo 3 – Jan Baborak via Unsplash

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