What to Know About Renting a Vehicle Overseas


Post by International Military Life Community Manager, Courtney WoodruffUSAA Community Renting a Vehicle Overseas small.jpg

Ready to plan the long-anticipated trip to your dream destination overseas?


First things first: How are you going to get there, and how do you plan to get around once you arrive?


One of the huge perks of traveling overseas is the accessibility to various types of quick and affordable transportation options, whether you choose to fly, take public transportation or rent a vehicle (or any combination of these).


If you decide to get behind the wheel, there are a few important things you should know.


You may be eligible for rental discounts through your auto insurance provider.


Before making the decision to rent a vehicle while traveling overseas, it’s a good idea to contact your auto insurance company to see if you are eligible for special rates. The Car Rental Comparison tool is a fantastic resource for locating the best deals. We were able to save 25% with a special membership discount when we rented a vehicle through a referred company on our family trip to England.


It might make more sense - financially and logistically - to take public transportation.


Once you know whether or not you are eligible for special rates, it’s time to compare the cost of renting a vehicle to public transportation. Consider how far away your destination is and how long it will take to get there by bus, train and car. It’s also wise to think about how much driving you will need to do once you arrive, and whether or not you will be traveling on any toll roads. Remember to factor in the cost of gas and parking, as both are often expensive overseas. Depending on how many people you are traveling with, we’ve learned it may be more time and cost effective to purchase bus or train tickets in certain locations. For example, a couple traveling from a small village in Germany to a large city with an efficient metro system may benefit from taking the train; on the other hand, a family with two or more children that require car seats and extra luggage may find it both cheaper and more convenient to rent a car.


Before you elect to purchase the rental company’s insurance, double check your insurance coverage.


Many US-based insurance companies offer coverage for the repair of rented vehicles, however it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Take a look at your auto policy to see whether or not it is in your best interest to purchase additional coverage through the rental company. Some credit card companies offer coverage, as well. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to your insurance and credit card providers.


Your rental company may require an International Driver’s Permit.


Service members and dependents stationed overseas are strongly advised to carry International Driver’s Permits when driving in foreign countries. While it is ultimately up to local law enforcement to decide whether or not an IDP is required in a particular nation, your rental company may ask you to provide one upon signing out vehicle. I recommend reading the fine print when making your rental reservation to avoid any surprises when you get there. Visit AAA.com to find out how to register for an IDP in the States. If you are already overseas, it’s possible to mail in your application.


Road rules may be different from country to country.


One of the biggest challenges to travelers driving overseas is being aware of and staying up to date with road regulations in multiple destinations. It’s possible to read up on laws specific to the countries you will be driving in on The European Commission website. There is also an app called Going Abroad that you can download for helpful tips, travel games, and road safety rules by country.


If you could take a road trip overseas, where would you go?


Additional information:

What to do in an Auto Accident Overseas

4 Tips for Traveling on a Budget

Check out the USAA – International FAQ

Courtney.jpgBlogger Bio: Courtney Woodruff is a military spouse, mom and writer currently living in Germany. She has a master's degree in Human Services Counseling: Military Resilience and currently serves as the International Military Life Blogger and Community Manager for USAA. She has a heart for our troops and their families and strives to share her own experience to help others overcome the unique challenges of military life. Follow her adventures on her blog, Courtney at Home, or connect with her Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.


@QuietmanXX_1, this post has been moved from the Discuss: International Military Life area to the Support: Insurance area to ensure the appropriate team is addressing your post. Thank you! -Cynthia

@QuietmanXX_1, this post has been moved from the Discuss: International Military Life area to the Support: Insurance area to ensure the appropriate team is addressing your post. Thank you! -Cynthia

Does USAA cover me if I'm driving a rental car in Ireland?

Hi @LadyofRohan! Great question! Our stateside auto insurance policy doesn't provide any coverage in Ireland. Coverage for non-owned vehicles is only provided in the U.S., U.S. Possession or Territories, Puerto Rico, Canada and limited coverage in Mexico. Therefore, I like to recommend you purchase coverage from the rental agency. 


For more information about coverage for rented vehicles, just enter "Rented Vehicles" in the Search bar on top of this page. Please let me know if you have any additional questions and hope you have a safe, wonderful trip! Thank you for choosing USAA! ~ Stacy K.