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?

  • First and most important international requirement: You must have the money to pay for it. Jest kiddin. Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 21:29

6 Answers 6


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.

  • 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
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 13:29
  • 3
    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. Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 13:48
  • 2
    @PeterHahndorf National driver's license may not suffice. It may have to be an international one. And probably for Slavo it will not.
    – Karlson
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 13:57
  • For whether you need an international license or not see: Are international driving licences really necessary for any country? Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 15:27
  • 1
    "You usually have to be 25 or older" No. 21 or older is the norm.
    – gef05
    Commented Jan 19, 2012 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.

  • 1. Make sure it is a credit card. Companies will allow debit but will put a hold on your actual funds, instead of the credit card 2. You actually have to have the physical credit card with you, I had a situation where I tried to prepay online and no rental car company allows this that I know of.
    – Conor
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 19:15

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...).

  • "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
    Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 2:45
  • 1
    @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
    Commented Jan 19, 2012 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.


I have rented and now own a vehicle... I have always gone through Avis. You can drive on your license from your country as long as it is valid and it is on you. You will also need to have a credit card as they keep it on file. Insurance is automatically included when you rent the vehicle (the minimum liability cover) but you will be asked if you would like to add extra cover. You must be over 21 to rent the vehicle and if you are between the age of 21-25 you will be charged an additional fee per day (somewhere between $15 - $25 extra per day). It is super easy!! Even if you forget to pre-book you can walk into Avis and it will be sorted in 10 minutes.


You can buy a car in USA not just rent the most important is to have your passport with your national driver licence and an address in USA if you have and don't forget your Visa or Master card.

  • Obviously one can buy a car. But that isn't a practical option for most travellers so I don't think this really contributes much. Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 1:03

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