Monday, 6 July 2015

What You Need to Know About Driving in a Different Country

Planning a European vacation? Want to rent a vehicle to tour around the French Riviera? There are a few things you should know before you rent a car and drive around in a different country. To keep you safe and worry free, we have compiled a list of tips to help you with your travel plans. 

Check the vehicle type:

  • Most vehicles outside of Canada are manual transmission which can be really tricky to drive if you have little or no experience with that type of car. Even more, automatic vehicles are much more difficult to find and can be quite a bit more expensive to rent.
  • If you know you are travelling outside Canada, spend a few months learning how to drive a manual vehicle. DO NOT try to drive one when you are in a different country. Your risk for accident and injury will increase by a lot. 

Rental car tips:

  • Depending on where you are renting a vehicle, you may not be able to drive a rented car into some countries such as: Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovenia.
  • Always pay with your credit card in the event of a charge dispute or for insurance reasons.
  • Do not rent a vehicle from an airport as you may be required to pay an “airport tax.”
  • Be sure to ask the rental place for the total you will have to pay including all fees and charges so that there are no surprises when you return the vehicle.  Get a written confirmation of these charges.

One way trip vs a return trip:
  • One way trips with vehicle drop off at a different location could actually cost you more than flying to each location! It could be as much as $1000 or more! Do your research and plan your route to avoid additional charges.

Check your insurance:

  • Do you need to buy additional insurance for a vehicle when travelling abroad? Some insurance companies will cover your insurance in different countries; call your provider to check to see if you have this coverage.

  • Often times your credit card company will cover the insurance on your rented vehicle. Be sure to call your credit card company and let them know both your travel itinerary and the approximate value of the vehicle you will be renting to ensure their insurance will cover you for any damages.
  • Rule of thumb: a $100,000 Porsche will not be covered by your credit card company or car insurance policy; there is usually a price limitation of about $20,000 to $30,000 depending on the insurance provider. 

Be prepared:

  • When driving in a different country, always have a paper map and a spare tire with you at all times. You never know the state of the roads where you’re travelling and you may not always have a satellite signal to guide your GPS program.

Protect yourself:

  • Do not make yourself a target by leaving luggage and valuables in the vehicle when you’re not around. Try to stow these items away in your hotel room or safe.

Do your research:

  • Although road rules are for the most part, universal, there are small differences that can be dangerous if you are not aware of them. For example, what side of the road do you drive on? Are there unwritten rules you should know about that may get the attention of authorities which may result in a fine or a travel delay?


  • Depending on where you go, you may have to pay highway tax, similar to our highway tolls. Keep all receipts of payments because you may be stopped by the authorities and asked to produce proof of payment.

Licensing and driving permits:

  • To be legally able to drive in a different country depends on where you are going. Some countries will require you to have an international driving permit along with your Canadian driver’s license. You may also be required to have your license and permit translated to the primary language of the country you are travelling in, for example, Italy.

Permits typically costs about $25 and take about 30 minutes to get in person, or 2-3 days by mail. To find out more about international driving permits, visit: