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I am planning a road trip in the US with some friends and plan to rent a car for the purpose. Are there any legal requirements for renting a car.

Do they require a US driver's license?
Do I have to pay for extra insurance?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

You don't need US driver's license, just your national one.

Some of the insurances are mandatory, some are optional. This article on WikiTravel gives a good overview. Details differ between different rental companies, so read the fine print on their web sites.

You usually have to be 25 or older and need a credit card.

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that age gone up? Was 21 when last I visited back in 2004 (at least for Hertz), or 18 if you were willing to pay for extra insurance. –  jwenting Jan 18 '12 at 13:29
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You are right, 25 is the standard age without any 'Age Differential Charge'. At Hertz you can rent a car at 20 but only certain types. Other companies may have even lower limits. –  Peter Hahndorf Jan 18 '12 at 13:48
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@PeterHahndorf National driver's license may not suffice. It may have to be an international one. And probably for Slavo it will not. –  Karlson Jan 18 '12 at 13:57
    
For whether you need an international license or not see: Are international driving licences really necessary for any country? –  hippietrail Jan 18 '12 at 15:27
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"You usually have to be 25 or older" No. 21 or older is the norm. –  gef05 Jan 19 '12 at 2:48

When we tried a few years back, you were required to be over 25 (although there was one company allowing 21 or over) to drive. In addition you need a valid driver's license recognised in the US, or an international drivers' license. Finally, a credit card is required, so that they can block off the deposit/excess against your card.

Often there is insurance that is mandatory as well, but that all comes in the bill when you do eventually rent it.

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You need to check with your local government and the relevant US state DMV if your national license is enough, for many countries it is.

If not, you'll need an international drivers license. Depending on your country, there's an organization issuing these. In the US its AAA.

You'll have to pay the "Supplemental liability insurance" to comply with state laws. Many Americans have their own car insurance that also covers them with the rental cars, but foreigners don't have that and many states require minimum liability insurance. Rental prices in the US don't include this. However, if you rent from your own country, your price will (probably) include all the necessary insurances, because they quote based on the standard profile for your country. So it might be cheaper to rent and prepay through a branch in your home country or a travel agent, then directly from the US rental company, when considering the additional costs of insurance (and taxes...).

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"The United States does NOT issue International Driving Permits to foreign visitors, so you will need to obtain this document before traveling to the U.S." (from the link in my answer) –  gef05 Jan 19 '12 at 2:45
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@gef05 - as I said, each country has its own organization issuing these licenses. I gave AAA as an example of such an organization for US residents, the OP has to look for a similar organization in his home country. Why would the US issue permits to anyone? It doesn't even issue them to their own citizens, states do that. –  littleadv Jan 19 '12 at 4:11

If your license is in a language other than English then you should get an IDP BEFORE entering the US.

If it's in English I would not bother. I drove here for six months on an Aussie license - in my own vehicles and hire vehicles - and my Australian license was sufficient.

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