I am traveling to Spain in summer and plan to rent a car online (Sixt, Avis, Budget etc.). I have a Tunisian driving license plus an international version (which is just some worldwide recognized translation). The problem is that my name on the passport is "Mehdi" but when translated from Arabic it can be either "Mehdi" or "Mahdi". Unfortunately, when my driving license was issued several years ago, the name "Mahdi" was written on it. Since I don't live in Tunisia, I didn't really have time to fix that. How strict are regulations when it comes to one character difference? Would I have problems when picking up the car? What is better to do, write "Mahdi" or "Mehdi" when booking a car online?

  • I would go with the name on the Driver's license, as that is the document they are more likely to care about. As a precaution, I would take the phone number of the Tunisian Embassy in Madrid for the rental agency to call to verify they are both valid transliterations, just in case, but I doubt you'll need it, especially if the photo matches.
    – jacoman891
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 8:34
  • Nobody ever asked me to show a passport or ID when I rent cars (I rent about 20 a year, in many countries in the world). All they ever care about is that the name on your credit card matches your drivers license, and that your credit card works.
    – Aganju
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 16:28
  • Well that would be a big problem then
    – Mehdi
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 16:29

1 Answer 1


This is unlikely to present a problem.

  • The passport and driving licence have nearly identical names and matching photos, which offers strong proof that you have the right to drive in Spain.
  • The fact that names can be translated differently into English is fairly well known. And if anyone raises this as a concern you can argue convincingly that the names are not actually different, only the translation is different.
  • The person reviewing this will be a low-level employee at the rental car desk, who, in my experience, is unlikely to be a stickler about these sorts of things. They will probably just dutifully copy your documents without noticing or caring about the discrepancy.

However, if you want to be completely sure, contact the rental company in question.

I'm not sure which name would be better to enter on the application. It may be best to choose the drivers' licence, as suggested by a commenter, but I don't have any real basis for that. I would perhaps choose based on the proximity to other information when filling out the online form.

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