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I was just denied a car rental by Avis who now require the renters Social Security Number for a foreigner to lease a car. Also a valid credit card was requested when it is known that Credit cards are not even issued in some developing countries.

What documents are required by a non-us resident to rent a car?

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    It makes no sense at all that they should ask for an SSN. Thousands of foreign tourists who would never have a US government tax ID rent cars every day. Similarly, if you do not have a credit card, you can generally use a debit card. Did you speak to a manager? Can you provide additional details about your interaction, where the rental agency was located, what the nature of your visit was, and so forth? – choster Aug 17 '16 at 14:10
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    @choster is the thing about debit cards true? – CMaster Aug 17 '16 at 14:11
  • @CMaster It isn't easy with a debit card, but it's certainly possible. See e.g. creditcards.com/credit-card-news/tips-rent-car-debit-card.php – choster Aug 17 '16 at 14:11
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    are you talking about leasing a car? or do you mean renting? That is a significant difference. – Aganju Aug 17 '16 at 14:40
  • Did you try to get an American residents / American citizens rate instead of a tourist rate? Or could the employee have expected you to apply for a lower rate as resident in the USA? – Willeke Aug 17 '16 at 15:40
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I am not sure why they asked for a Social Security Number since it's a US only ID and not even required to be provided.

According to Avis' own FAQ the following are the requirements for valid identification:

Avis requires that each customer and additional driver meet the Avis minimum age requirement, present a valid driver's license and an acceptable driving record, and present an Avis-honored charge card or cash rental qualification at the time of rental.

The driver's license must be valid at the time of rental, and remain valid throughout the rental period. All drivers must meet Avis' requirements. Driver's licenses accepted in the U.S. are:

  • Any license issued by any U.S. state, territory or possession.
  • A license issued by a Canadian province.
  • A license issued by a country that participated in the 1949 Geneva convention on Road Traffic or the 1943 Convention on the Regulation of Inter-American Automobile Traffic.
  • A license issued by a country that has a reciprocal agreement with the U.S.

If you intend to rent outside your home country, you may also be required to present an International Driver's Permit. International Driver's Permits are valid only if presented with the original local license. An International Driver's Permit it not acceptable by itself. In addition, at the time of rental, the renter, authorized driver or additional driver may be subject to an electronic DMV check or may be required to sign a declaration attesting that they have a valid license that is not currently suspended, revoked, expired, cancelled or surrendered. A temporary driver's license is acceptable only if it has no restrictions and is valid for the entire period of the rental. Individuals with learner's permits may not operate Avis vehicles. Additionally, if you intend to rent outside of your home country, Avis may require that you present a valid passport, as secondary form of identification at the time of your check-out.

So in all likelihood the SSN request was a secondary identification for someone who entered incorrectly that you're from the US or a bug in Avis' Agent UI (yes those happen). But the Credit Card request is normal in case of toll fines, etc.

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  • Just to add that even for a US resident requiring your SSN is a MASSIVE violation of privacy. – DJClayworth Aug 17 '16 at 14:28
  • Do most companies require an international driver's permit? My Dutch license should be valid in the US but better safe than sorry. – Summer Aug 17 '16 at 14:31
  • @DJClayworth only for a US resident requiring a SSN is a massive violation. Afaik the US is the only country where your SSN is some kind of magic number that gives access to all your personal info. In the EU you can't do anything with just a SSN. – Summer Aug 17 '16 at 14:33
  • In Canada the SIN would give similar access, but there are laws against asking for it without good reason. – DJClayworth Aug 17 '16 at 14:35
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    @JaneDoe1337 As long as your name and other info doesn't contain non-latin characters you should be fine. – Karlson Aug 17 '16 at 14:37

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