Slightly Complicated Rental Car / License Question

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by LONDJC, May 1, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. LONDJC
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    LONDJC Silver Member

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    I've been searching with relatively little success for an answer to this slightly complicated question so thought I'd see if anyone here had any thoughts.

    I have a UK Driver's License for Automatic Transmission cars. Why? Because I exchanged my license from a Canadian one and the UK won't license you to drive a manual in those circumstances unless you can prove you took your test on a manual (got to love bureaucracy). Plus, I drive an automatic here.

    I'm heading to France with a buddy from the US in a few weeks and we're looking to rent a car. We're unable to find an automatic to rent so it will have to be a manual. Easy, we thought - my buddy will just rent it and he's happy to do the driving. The problem is, he doesn't own a credit card (he resolutely refuses to get one and does everything by debit card) so they wouldn't rent to him because rental car companies will only take domestic debit cards.

    So we thought that I could rent on my card, add him as an additional driver and be fine but I'm slightly concerned that they will tell me that I can't actually rent a manual because my license doesn't authorize me to drive one in the UK and so we're in a catch 22 (I can't rent because of the license restriction and he can't rent because of the credit card issue).

    I rent cars all the time in the US and Canada but it's never an issue there because everything's automatic but wondering if this could prove a problem on the continent, where they may also be more familiar with European driving restrictions...

    Thoughts?
     
  2. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    How obvious is the restriction from your license?
     
  3. Gardyloo
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    Gardyloo Gold Member

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    1. Keep looking for an automatic. They exist. How long and where do you need the car?

    2. There are numerous pre-paid rental car programs from various companies. Use your card to pre-pay. You probably don't even have to have your license on the contract - as long as they've been paid, what's the worry?

    3. Investigate the Renault or Peugeot leasing (technically, buy-back) programs, which absolutely DO offer automatic transmission vehicles.

    4. Rent in Belgium or Germany, where automatics are far more numerous in my experience.
     
  4. philatravelgirl

    philatravelgirl Silver Member

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    My US license doesn't state manual or automatic and I was able to rent manual in France without issue (I actually drive manual here) and I have friends who have never driven manual and rented cars and had to quickly learn -without issue in France -they didn't need to prove they knew how to drive manual at all. Unless there is a specific French rule I don't know about think you should be ok and the advice above is great.
     
  5. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I think the concern is that the UK license in question is restricted to automatic cars.

    http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring/DriverLicensing/WhatCanYouDriveAndYourObligations/DG_10022623

    (code 78)

    The question is: will a car rental agency in another country understand and enforce that? And I'd take it a step further: will ignoring this restriction void any insurance?
     
  6. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I would echo the above concern: even if they give you the car, would it be considered like driving without a license if theere were an accident or if you were to otherwise be stopped by cops?

    Will you feel comfortable driving a manual in different driving patterns and customs, while navigating with foreign language road signs, driving faster than you are accustomed on the autoroute, negotiating narrow streets in walled villages or areas where cars are double parked, parking in very tight spaces, doing mountain roads with steep hairpin turns, etc.?

    They're not th cheapest, but I've always had automatics in France and they are becoming more common all the time.
     
    HaveMilesWillTravel likes this.
  7. LONDJC
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    LONDJC Silver Member

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    Thanks for the replies so far.

    In answer to a couple of the queries, it's just a rental for a couple of days so that limits us to the major renters (we're going to be in Normandy at the D-Day beaches so the driving is relatively straightforward but it means we're really to far away to rent in somewhere like Germany or Belgium).

    And I also had similar concerns that people raised about whether or not my UK license is even valid to drive a manual in France. Given that it's been about a decade since I drove a manual, my buddy was going to be doing the driving anyway - we were just dealing with the fact that he didn't have a credit card to do the rental single-handedly and were just going to pay the €10 a day or so to add a second driver.

    So far, I'm striking out with finding rental car companies that are offering automatics but that's a search that is ongoing.

    Thanks again.
     
  8. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Where are you planning to pick up the car?

    A quick check for Hertz at CDG Jul 20-23 has a Renault Megane or similar (Compact class) for around 150 Euros. Says it's automatic. The cheapest car (Mini class) is 120, so not exactly a huge difference to get an automatic.
     

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