Whilst I am travelling, I would like to rent a car from NY or LA. Is it possible with a UK provisional driving licence?

  • Related: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/16968/…
    – Karlson
    Mar 8 '14 at 2:48
  • I bought a car, insurance too and drove it all over NC back in the early 2000's with just an old UK Provisional Licence - granted I'd had over 30 years of driving experience. Okay, so now I am travelling to Seattle in August. I will not risk using a provisional licence as it could spoil the vacation of a lifetime. Guess I'll have to get use to public transport and taxi services etc. Feb 15 '18 at 12:30
  • One thing not mentioned here is that while you may be able to hire a car with a provisional or learner's license, that's an entirely separate matter from being able to drive a car with such a license while in a foreign country. You need to research with your license's issuing country/province/state, and then research in the country/province/state where you want to drive with that provisional/learner's license. It needs to be legally valid (issuing jurisdiction) and legally acceptable (jurisdiction where driving is occurring). If it isn't, you risk being uninsured, plus you risk being s Feb 15 '18 at 14:48

Almost certainly not. Firstly, the U.K. provisional license is not a valid full license to drive alone in the U.K, much less the United States. Provisional license holders must be accompanied by a driver with 3 years experience, a full license, and be aged over 21.

Secondly, whilst the U.S does not require U.K. citizens to have an International Driving Permit to drive there, it is strongly recommended for insurance purposes. The IDP requires a full driving license, or a test pass certificate + your provisional license.

Whilst this suggests you might be able to get away just using your provisional hoping no-one notices, you're renting, not borrowing a car from a friend, and rental terms are generally more stringent than the law - for example, Budget generally requires an IDP.

Thirdly, insurance typically requires a full driver's license. Those on provisionals / learner permits are usually covered by the supervising driver's insurance.

Speculatively, I imagine the large enterprise rental firms will see U.K. licenses all the time, and the fact that the provisional license is clearly marked as such and has a large red 'L' on it means they will quickly establish that it's not a full license, and as such not valid.

I realise this is a combination of half-answers and common sense, and of course contacting a hire firm in the U.S. is the only way to 100% verify, but the fact that none of the FAQs / Help sections I looked at even mention the possibility of using a learner / provisional license suggests to me that it's out of the question (as opposed to totally acceptable and as such not worth an FAQ).

  • I think the right answer would only depend on how familiar rental car employees are with overseas license types. I'm pretty sure hagubear could get away with it most of the time.
    – JonathanReez
    Mar 8 '14 at 17:20
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    Quite - I'm making a fairly large assumption that large U.S rental firms will be familiar with U.K. licenses. I'm also assuming if anything happens in the rental car the insurance won't cover a provisional driver, and the onus for saying as much will fall on the renter, aside from the moral question of a non-licensed driver driving a car unsupervised. Mar 8 '14 at 18:27
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    Also worth mentioning that the minimum rental age at most locations in the US is 21. Oct 7 '14 at 11:11
  • I've hired from budget countless times and never needed an IDP
    – BritishSam
    Feb 15 '18 at 12:54
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    The trouble with the "hope they won't notice" approach is that if you get in an accident and injure someone, you will be investigated and the deception will come out. Now you are guilty of a criminal offence (driving without license, possibly driving without insurance) and because insurance won't cover damage and injury you are personally liable for it, which in the US can run to millions. Feb 15 '18 at 14:33

I actually successfully did this only a few months ago. It was actually by accident, we had an issue because my friend who has a full license didn't have a credit car - meaning we couldn't get the car in his name (credit card needs to be in drivers name). We tried my UK license and we got away with it, it was only because the girl was completely oblivious to the difference. So, you might get away with but I dunno. If you have an accident or get stopped, there could be serious legal ramifications.

  • jeeeezzz.....won't risk that!! might not get lucky 2nd time....I have got a full UK now, so no problem I guess :)
    – hagubear
    Dec 10 '14 at 11:57

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