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My wife is going to rent a car in Switzerland and will be driving through France. She is a French citizen and has a French license, but she has a green card and a US license also. She is residing primarily in the US and will be going back to visit, if that matters.

Some rental companies offer different rates for "foreign" (i.e. US-based drivers) when in Europe compared to European drivers. Are there any problems renting a car with the US license instead of the French license? Are there laws about which license has to be carried/offered when multiple are available?

  • Most countries require you to use the license of that country, if you have it. Otherwise, whichever one you like. – Aganju Mar 12 at 22:24
  • @Aganju That's what I would assume, but I couldn't find anything like that in the US (which makes some sense, every state is different and so it's hard to pin down how each one would react), but it's surprisingly hard to search in English for how that works with other countries. It's very hard to find anything other than "Here's where your US license works" – tpg2114 Mar 12 at 22:41
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For clarity, Switzerland is not in the EU. However, for obvious reasons, Swiss police are very familiar with the format of EU licences, and Swiss licences have a very similar format.

While there may not be an explicit law about it, I think it would be logical that if she has a French driving licence, she should show this one if it is required by a French official. Local driving licence holders may get slightly better treatment: It's often reported that foreign drivers in France who are pulled over for an infraction are required to pay fines on the spot or have their car impounded due to the difficulties in enforcing penalties internationally.

Therefore, if she is required by an official to show her licence in France or Switzerland, she should show her French one.

However, car rental staff are not officials. There's no legal requirement that you show car rental staff the same drivers licence as you would show a police officer if you are pulled over. She can show the car rental staff her American licence if she wants.

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