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I've recently received a driving license (first license in my life) in Czech Republic and plan to do some traveling in Central Europe (Germany, Austria, Northern Italy, Denmark, Poland). In some of the cities it would be nice to get a car for a couple of days. Unfortunately most large car hire companies, such as Hertz, enforce a one-year minimum validity rule on license holders:

At time of rental, the renter must present a valid driver's licence issued from country of residence that has been held for a minimum of one year.

This got me thinking over possible workarounds:

  1. Perhaps the rental desks don't bother to check the license age and I can just show up at the desk without worries

  2. It could be possible to email the company after the reservation and ask for an exception

  3. It might be possible to haggle with the rental car employee on the spot (e.g. get some sort of an additional insurance)

So the question is - is it possible to override the license age rule for major rental companies in Central Europe?

P.S. I am aware that it might be easier to just buy a car than bother with rentals, but would like to find out about rental options first.

  • Don't forget that you have to get insurance when you buy a car and in some countries that is almost impossible as visitor. – Willeke May 27 '15 at 19:55
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    Negotiating insurance isn't going to work. Rental companies negotiate with insurance companies based on contracts worth millions of dollars. They simply don't have the power to make exceptions. – DJClayworth May 28 '15 at 3:22
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    I remember a Forumla One driver telling the anecdote of trying to rent a car on an off day and being denied because he ws under 25. They don't make exceptions. – DJClayworth May 28 '15 at 3:24
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    I think your biggest risk is even if they gave you a car, you probably wouldn't be insured if you didn't meet the stated requirements. That means that if you had any sort of accident, you'd be left with having to pay the whole thing... – Gagravarr May 28 '15 at 8:42
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    In northern Sweden, I have many times rented a car when I was below 25, despite rules saying I could not. They never asked my age. One time they did not even ask to see my license; I walked up to the desk, said “I'm here to pick up a rental car”, the clerk asked ”Are you Mr. Holl?”, I said “Yes” and I was handed the keys. On the other hand, I was rejected as an additional driver in Spain when my license was 5 days short of the minimum license age requirement (I would have satisfied it at the end of the rental period, though!). – gerrit May 28 '15 at 10:25
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First things first: rental companies will check your driving licence for validity before they confirm your rental car. This is to ensure that you are legally allowed to drive. Secondly your age will be checked since there are usually extra fees to be paid by young (< 25 years old) drivers. Having performed these two checks they will know if you qualify as a young driver, and from there computing the validity years of your licence will be a trivial operation. The point being that checking that you have had your licence for longer than X years is not a complicated operation, and fits in perfectly with the normal work-flow of rental companies. Hence your hope that

Perhaps the rental desks don't bother to check the license age

is likely to be false.

On a different note, age and licence validity issues are often insurance-related. For example younger drivers usually pay more for car insurance. There's a chance that the insurance company of the rental agency requires them to declare young drivers and disallows them from renting out to inexperienced drivers ( i.e. those who obtained their licence less than X years ago).

  • Young != inexperienced, it's a different set of rules and I have several friends who obtained a license at age 30 (inexperienced but not that young). – Relaxed May 28 '15 at 7:44
  • @Joernano I have a new license, but I won't fit the "young driver" definition for most car rentals. – JonathanReez May 28 '15 at 7:52
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    @Relaxed Nowhere did I write that Young == Inexperienced. My reasoning is that: 1) The licence is checked by default for reasons other than checking validity years 1a) One such reason is checking for young drivers (which might or might not be the case for the OP) 2) Once the clerk has the licence, doing if(currentYear-licenceYear) < ourThreshold; then NO!; is a trivial operation. Therefore the hope that Perhaps the rental desks don't bother to check the license age might be quite unrealistic. – JoErNanO May 28 '15 at 9:48
  • @JoErNanO I find it difficult to follow your reasoning. You have to present a license, not only because of age restrictions but simply because they want to make sure you are allowed to drive. And once the clerk has it in hand, he or she can indeed check when it was issued. If that's your point, it's fine as far as it goes but not very informative. – Relaxed May 28 '15 at 10:01
  • On the other hand, what does that have to do with age restrictions? On the license card, age/date of birth is another field (the date I obtained my license is not even on the same side of the card in my case) and it's also easy to assess your age using the ID document you also have to present anyway or, past 30 or so, by quickly glancing at you. No need to go about age restrictions at length, it's just an unrelated requirement (incidentally the consequences are different: in one case you pay extra, in the other they should not rent to you at all). – Relaxed May 28 '15 at 10:03
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From my experience: Forget your idea, you will be stopped dead cold at 1.

Because many people here in Germany who have for good reason no driving license (dangerous driving, alcohol) tried to get one abroad and tried to rent cars with it, they will always ask for the license and check it together with the ID (you know, stolen/invalid/fake licenses).

From my experience in Germany: a resounding NO.

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