Driving Licences for Car Hire in the USA

What are the requirements for driving licences for car hire in the USA?

To hire a car in the USA all drivers need a full, valid driving licence from their country of residence. If you have a driving ban in your home country you cannot hire a car in the USA. Some car hire companies require that you have held your full licence for at least one year. But not all make this distinction – please see the checklist below.

Since June 8th 2015 the paper counterpart of a UK photo ID driving licence has ceased to have legal status. A UK driving licence is now either a paper licence or just the photo ID.  A paper licence will have been issued prior to 1998 and may be pink or green. This is all you need to collect your car in the USA. You do not require a code from the DVLA to hire in the USA

 

Photocopies or faxed copies of driving licences are not accepted.  Quite often we get calls from clients whose driving licences are with the DVLA and may not be back in time. Contrary to what the DVLA may tell you, the car hire companies in the USA will not accept a faxed copy from the DVLA. We usually have to switch these reservations into a partners name.

Points and Endorsements

The USA does not recognise the UK system of endorsements on a driving licence, so speeding points etc will not have an impact. The general rule is that if you can legally drive in the UK then you can hire a car in the USA.  This also applies to driving bans. If your ban has finished and you can now legally drive again, then you can hire a car and drive in the USA.

International Driving Licences and Permits

Drivers from E.U. countries with an E.U. driving licence do not require an International Driving Permit (IDP).

There seems to be two approaches to the driving licences of non-English speaking countries. The first approach is to make a distinction between Roman alphabets and non-Roman alphabets. For languages with a Roman alphabet, drivers are not required to obtain an IDP. The regular driving licence will be accepted.  Drivers from countries with non-Roman alphabets will be required to obtain an IDP to present at the same time as their national driving licence. Presentation of the IDP alone will not allow you to drive.

The second approach is to insist upon a written English section on your driving licence, and if there is not an English section then you will need to obtain an IDP as above.  There is a cost associated with obtaining an IDP, and they tend to be valid for just 12 months.

Driving Licence Requirements, by Supplier

  • Alamo
    • Full Licence
    • A driving licence in Roman alphabet accepted.
    • Chinese travelers may use the Chinese Driver’s License Translation Service, replacing the need for an IDP. Chinese travelers may not rent in the states of Michigan or Massachusetts.
    • Japanese travelers may use the Japanese Driver’s License Translation Service, replacing the need for an IDP
  • National 
    • Full Licence
    • A driving licence in Roman alphabet accepted.
    • Chinese travelers may use the Chinese Driver’s License Translation Service, replacing the need for an IDP. Chinese travelers may not rent in the states of Michigan or Massachusetts.
    • Japanese travelers may use the Japanese Driver’s License Translation Service, replacing the need for an IDP
  • Budget
    • Full Licence held for a minimum of 1 year
    • Will need an IDP if the licence is not recognisable
  • Avis
    • Full Licence held for a minimum of 1 year
    • Must obtain IDP if the licence is not in English
  • Dollar
    • Full Licence held for a minimum of 1 year
    • Will need an IDP if the licence is not recognisable
UK counterpart driving licence

UK Counterpart Driving Licence Cease to be Legal

Drivers from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cypress require an international driving permit even though the licence card has an English translation.

We regret our pre-paid rental vouchers are not available to US or Canadian citizens.

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