What You Need to Safely Rent & Drive a Car Abroad

Driving a car in a foreign land has its own allure, regardless of whether you are exploring the area as a tourist or driving around the city for business purposes. Getting behind the wheel gives you a sense of freedom and independence. Within specified limits, you can go almost anywhere and at any time – no need to stand in line to get on a bus or train.

Rental car companies make it possible for foreigners or alien residents to get around in comfort and style. They exist in most major cities around the globe. Rentals make it possible for almost anyone to drive a vehicle, whether it is a van in the US, a coaster with a 6-month car lease in Dubai, or a pickup truck in Australia.

Of course, there are requirements and existing regulations that people need to follow if they want to be able to live and move around safely abroad for a specific period. Take a few minutes to go through this helpful guide of things to keep in mind when driving overseas.

Get an international driving license

Check your wallet and the country’s current regulations before you book a rental car where you are headed. In most cases, a foreign license may be all that’s necessary to get a rental. However, local regulations for alien drivers can still vary depending on the amount of time the person intends to stay in the country. 

For instance, individuals who have a visitor’s visa in Australia can use their foreign driver’s license to rent a car while inside the country. On the other hand, tourists who plan to stay in India for over a year are required to get a local driver’s license to drive there legally.

Most rental companies won’t ask for your license, but you will need it when driving around. The local police may want to see your license in the event that you get into an accident or if you need to file an insurance claim.

Invest in auto insurance

Car insurance for a rental isn’t legally required, and in some cases, you can forgo getting one if you are on a tight budget. That is not to say that it isn’t handy. Having your rental car insured is useful if the vehicle breaks down or if you get into an accident or a similar situation.

It is possible to get insurance from many sources. Other than from the rental car company itself, you can get protection from some credit card companies or a local third party offering insurance. In some cases, you can even get insurance coverage back in your home country. 

Before you go, check the terms and conditions of your insurance to see what it covers. It may be more convenient to get it in your home country, but international coverage often tends to be limited in scope. You can also check with your embassy in the country you are going to, to find out what insurance companies they recommend.

Sign up for driving courses

Vehicles with an automatic transmission may be more common in countries such as the US, but the same cannot be said elsewhere. In countries where cars that run on automatic transmission are the exception rather than the norm, you may expect to shell out more money when signing the rental contract for such a vehicle.

It is also possible to find rental car companies that only offer vehicles with manual transmission. To be on the safe side, sign up for driving classes in your home country that allow you to experience driving a stick shift. Preparation is key to make it easier to transition to local driving conditions while overseas.

Practice also comes in handy if you plan on driving on the other side of the road. Canadian drivers, for instance, operate a left-hand vehicle on the right side of the road. When traveling in Singapore, drivers will need to get used to driving on the left side using a right-hand drive vehicle.

If you plan on taking a trip to several countries, you may want to carefully consider how quickly you can switch and adjust your driving style. Some rental companies provide access to a free driver. This may be a safer option than constantly figuring out which side of the road to use.

Observe proper driving habits

Individual driving habits can change depending on where the person resides. The local culture can influence and affect how people act behind the wheel or are expected to behave. Take this into consideration, and do your research before you go.

Saudi Arabia, for instance, has recently lifted a ban on women drivers. Female travelers may still expect to see a few eyebrows raised whenever they are seen behind the wheel.

Being behind the wheel offers a level of independence, as driving a car allows you to go almost anywhere. However, keep in mind that the rules and requirements may be different where you plan to go. Across the UAE, this comprehensive car rental guide can help you. Remember the tips stated here to keep your experience as smooth as possible.

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