Student guide to renting a car


If you are planning to take a trip with your classmates, you may have considered driving in the UK. It will give you and your friends the convenience of explore areas (think remote, majestic places!) that aren’t as easily accessible by public transport.

If so, you might want to consider renting a car, which is incredibly common in the UK.

It is also a better option if you are traveling with a group of friends or with a large family, as it can save you time and money.

The best part? You travel at your own pace!

If you are considering renting a set of wheels you should first be aware that driving rules and regulations generally apply in all countries – Great Britain, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland – in the UK .

There are minimum age restrictions for driving in the UK. Although it is legal to drive from the age of 17 (or 18 for some countries) in the UK, some car rental companies may set a higher minimum age or charge additional fees for drivers of a certain age.

These rules are there because of insurance policies, who generally charge a higher premium for younger and older drivers.

Another thing to note is that Great Britain accepts all foreign driving licenses valid for 12 months from your last entry into the country. For EU driversthere is no time limit as long as your driver’s license is valid.

Additionally, you can drive any type of car or motorbike listed on your driver’s license. You can also drive a minibus, but it comes with an extra set of terms: you must be 21 or older; have held your driving license for at least two years; and drive voluntarily.

Now that you know the requirements to drive in the UK, you need to understand the practical part of the car rental process, from booking the car to returning it. Don’t worry, the process isn’t as complicated as you think.

A vehicle drives past a ‘Welcome to Wales’ sign on the Wales/England border near Hereford in Herefordshire, England. Source: Geoff Caddick/AFP

Driving in the UK: From A to Z of car rental

When you book the car

There are countless car rental companies in the UK. Some of the most popular include Europcar, Hertz, Car Flexi and Economy Car Rentals.

What you need to know is that most car rental companies’ rental fees depend on the length of your reservation, the season, the type of car, the distance traveled and any other additional benefits. .

Note that it is a legal requirement to obtain unlimited liability insurancewhich is usually included in the price of car rental.

Additionally, you will be required to submit a deposit fee (online or at the counter) when booking the car. The amount of the deposit varies by car rental company – it can cost up to £250.

Note that car rental vendors will often try to get you to purchase additional insurance, which may not be necessary. Getting unexpected charges is also a common occurrence.

As such, always go through the booking form to ensure you are charged accordingly. If you are confused by certain fees or terms and conditions, review them with the sellers before making a payment.

Pro tip #1: Opt for a car with GPS included as it can be difficult to get data coverage on some roads and in rural areas of the UK.

When you pick up the car

When you pick up the car, you will need to present the following documents:

– Reservation confirmation

– Passport

– Driver’s license

Once you have made your payment and collected the car keys and car, check the vehicle thoroughly and take as many photos of its condition as possible for documentation purposes.

If you notice any defect or damage, no matter how minor, be sure to report it immediately to the person responsible. The last thing you want is to be charged for a defect or damage you didn’t cause.

Pro tip #2: Petrol is expensive in the UK. Rent an electric car or a diesel-powered car, a cheaper and more sustainable alternative.

    drive in uk

A four wheel drive vehicle drives on an icy road in Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, 40 miles west of London. Source: Adrian Dennis/AFP

When returning the car

The process of returning the car is much faster than picking it up.

Most car rental companies require you to return the car with a full tank of gas. So remember to refuel at a gas station closest to the car rental company.

Also make sure that none of your belongings are left behind when you return the car.

That’s it! Travel safe when driving in the UK!


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