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Car Rental in United Kingdom

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Car Rental in the United Kingdom

When visiting the United Kingdom, renting a car can be a convenient and flexible way to explore the beautiful countryside and historic cities. However, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the local driving laws and requirements before hitting the road.

Understanding Local Driving Laws

In the United Kingdom, cars drive on the left-hand side of the road, and the steering wheel is on the right-hand side of the car. It’s crucial to be aware of this, especially if you’re used to driving on the right-hand side in your home country.

Speed limits and road signs may also differ from what you’re accustomed to, so it’s essential to acquaint yourself with these regulations before driving in the UK.

Driver’s License and Age Requirements

To rent a car in the United Kingdom, you must be at least 21 years old and have held a valid driver’s license for a minimum of one year. If you’re under 25, you may be subject to a young driver surcharge.

Additionally, if your driver’s license is not issued in English, you may need an International Driving Permit to accompany your license while driving in the UK.

Booking a Rental Car

When booking a rental car in the United Kingdom, be sure to compare prices and read the terms and conditions carefully. Consider factors such as insurance coverage, fuel policies, and any additional fees that may apply.

It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the type of car you’ll be renting, as smaller roads and parking spaces in the UK may be different from what you’re used to.

Renting a car in the United Kingdom can be a convenient way to explore the country at your own pace. By understanding local driving laws and requirements, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable driving experience during your visit.

Rental Requirements

Age Limits

To rent a car in the United Kingdom, the minimum age requirement is typically 21 years old. However, some rental companies may have a higher minimum age requirement, such as 25 years old. There may also be additional fees for drivers under the age of 25.

Driving License Requirements

When renting a car in the United Kingdom, you will need a valid driving license. If you are visiting from another country, you may also need an International Driving Permit (IDP) in addition to your local license. It’s important to check with the rental company to see if an IDP is required for your specific situation. Additionally, some rental companies may require you to have held your license for a minimum amount of time, such as one or two years.


In addition to your driving license, you will need to present other documentation when renting a car in the United Kingdom. This may include a valid passport, a credit card in the primary driver’s name for security deposit purposes, and any additional forms or identification requested by the rental company. Be sure to have all necessary documents on hand when picking up your rental car.

Insurance Information

When renting a car in the United Kingdom, it’s important to understand the different insurance options available to ensure a safe and worry-free trip.

Basic Insurance

The basic insurance typically includes Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and Theft Protection. CDW protects you in case of any damage to the rental car, while Theft Protection covers the cost if the car is stolen.

Additional Insurance

In addition to basic insurance, there are options for additional coverage such as Personal Accident Insurance, which provides medical coverage for you and your passengers in case of an accident, and Supplemental Liability Insurance, which offers added protection in the event of third-party claims.

Insurance Tips

For travelers renting a car in the United Kingdom, it is recommended to check their existing travel insurance policies to see if they already have coverage for rental cars. It’s also a good idea to carefully review the terms and conditions of the rental agreement to ensure you have the necessary coverage for your trip.

Local Driving Laws and Regulations in the United Kingdom

General Traffic Rules

Driving Side: In the UK, driving is on the left side of the road.
Speed Limits: The typical speed limits are 30 mph in urban areas, 60 mph on rural roads, and 70 mph on highways.
Other Useful Info: Roundabouts are common in the UK, so be prepared to navigate them.

Overtaking and Lane Usage

Overtaking Rules: Overtaking is done on the right side, and it’s important to do so safely and legally.
Lane Discipline: On multi-lane roads, the ‘keep left except to overtake’ rule is followed.
Other Useful Info: Watch out for bus and cycle lanes, as they have their own rules for usage.

Seat Belt and Child Safety

Seat Belt Laws: Seat belts must be worn by all passengers in the front and rear seats.
Child Safety: Children must use an appropriate restraint until they are 135cm tall or 12 years old.
Other Useful Info: It’s the driver’s responsibility to ensure all passengers are safely belted in.

Use of Mobile Phones

Mobile Phone Restrictions: It is illegal to use a handheld mobile phone while driving, including when stopped in traffic.
Other Useful Info: Hands-free devices are allowed, but it’s best to avoid any distractions while driving.

Alcohol and Driving

Legal Blood Alcohol Limits: The legal limit is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.
Zero Tolerance Policies: New drivers and commercial drivers have stricter limits and harsher penalties.
Other Useful Info: It’s best to avoid any alcohol if you plan on driving.

Tolls and Charges

Toll Roads: Some bridges and tunnels have toll charges, and payment methods vary.
Congestion Charges: London has a congestion charge for driving in the city center during weekdays.
Other Useful Info: Make sure to check for any charges before starting your journey.

Roundabouts and Intersections

Navigating Roundabouts: Give way to traffic from the right and signal your exit when using a roundabout.
Intersection Rules: Follow the right of way rules and use signals to indicate your intentions.
Other Useful Info: Pay attention to road signs and markings to navigate intersections safely.

Headlight and Windshield Wiper Laws

Headlight Usage: Use headlights at night, during times of reduced visibility, and when using windshield wipers.
Windshield Wiper Rule: There is no specific law regarding the use of headlights with wipers, but it’s a good practice to do so.
Other Useful Info: Make sure all your vehicle’s lights are working properly before driving.

Emergency Vehicles

Right of Way for Emergency Vehicles: Pull over and stop to let emergency vehicles pass, and follow any directions given by emergency personnel.
Other Useful Info: Be aware of sirens and flashing lights, and react promptly to make way for emergency vehicles.

Driving Tips for the United Kingdom

Road Conditions

The road conditions in the United Kingdom vary from well-maintained motorways to narrow country lanes. Be prepared for different types of terrain, including hills, and winding roads.

Urban vs. Rural Driving

Driving in urban areas like London can be congested and challenging, with heavy traffic and narrow streets. In rural areas, roads may be narrower and less well-maintained, but you may encounter fewer vehicles.

Navigational Tips

Using a GPS or maps can be helpful for navigating the United Kingdom’s roads, especially in unfamiliar areas. Be aware that some rural areas may have limited GPS signal.

Other Useful Tips

– In the United Kingdom, driving is on the left-hand side of the road.
– Speed limits are in miles per hour (mph) rather than kilometers per hour (km/h).
– Pay attention to road signs, especially in rural areas where they may be less frequent.

When renting a car in the United Kingdom, it’s important to be aware of these driving tips to have a safe and enjoyable experience on the road.

Roadside Assistance and Emergency Procedures

When renting a car in the United Kingdom, it’s important to be prepared for any roadside emergencies that may arise during your trip. Here’s what you need to know about breakdown procedures, emergency services, and rental company policies.

Breakdown Procedures

In the event of a breakdown, the first thing to do is to safely pull over to the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights. If it’s safe to do so, place a warning triangle behind your vehicle to alert other drivers. Contact the rental company’s roadside assistance immediately to report the breakdown and follow their instructions for further assistance.

Emergency Services

In case of an emergency, it’s important to have the contact numbers for the police, ambulance, and roadside assistance readily available. The emergency number for the police is 999 or 112, while the ambulance service can be reached at 999 or 112 as well. Additionally, make sure to have the rental company’s roadside assistance number saved in your phone for quick access.

Rental Company Policies

Before embarking on your journey, familiarize yourself with the support offered by the rental company in case of a breakdown. Many rental companies provide 24/7 roadside assistance and towing services to ensure that you are taken care of in the event of a vehicle issue. Review the rental agreement to understand the specific policies and procedures for handling breakdowns during your rental period.

By being aware of the breakdown procedures, emergency services, and rental company policies, you can have peace of mind knowing that you are prepared for any unexpected situations while driving in the United Kingdom.

Where can you Rent a Car in United Kingdom?

You can browse all the city locations below, sorted alphabetically. Use Ctrl+F (or Cmd+F on a Mac) to quickly find the one you want to explore.