We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Documents Needed to Rent a Car

lost in Ohio
Level Contributor
2,305 posts
3 reviews
1 helpful vote
Documents Needed to Rent a Car

Bonjour:

We will be renting a car when we arrive at CDG airport. Other than an American Credit Card and my Drivers License, and my confirmation, will I need anything else?

What can I expect at the rental counter? (Hertz) and can anyone offer any advice on how to make the process go smoothly.

MERCI

Phoenix, Arizona
Level Contributor
185 posts
72 reviews
78 helpful votes
1. Re: Documents Needed to Rent a Car

Nope that's all you need in the way of documents. We had international driving permits with us just as a back up, but weren't asked for them at the Hertz counter.

The representative at the Hertz counter spoke English - no problems there. We had our Hertz Gold card which we presented just to make it easier for them to look up the reservation. You said you have your confirmation so that should work.

Be patient. There was only one representative there when we arrived to get our car and several people showed up after they got their baggage. You'll see the Hertz desk easily so that's not a problem either.

Make sure you check that everything works before you leave the lot. A couple of reasons: 1. Don't assume it does. We got half-way to our destination before we realized that the cell phone plugs didn't work. My DH diagonosed the problem as a blown fuse because everything else worked O.K. We thought we would just exchange the car in Rouen or that it was a quick fix at the Hertz dealer there, but nope everything booked up and they told us it would take 2 days to "repair" the car. So DH came up with Plan B (another story) which worked fine for us. But next time we would take the time to turn on everything and check those plug ins. and No 2 - The driver's manual is in French. My French language skills, while good enough for other stuff, lost me on the technical terms.

Also make sure you have your Michilen maps handy and available and/or your GPS. We had a Tom Tom and maps with us. Worked like a charm between the two of them.

Chicago, IL
Level Contributor
882 posts
152 reviews
190 helpful votes
2. Re: Documents Needed to Rent a Car

A couple more things to add: take photos of the car when you pick up and when you return it; and find out how everything works before you leave the rental agency.

Have fun.

JSN
San Francisco...
Level Contributor
362 posts
39 reviews
50 helpful votes
3. Re: Documents Needed to Rent a Car

I've read in several reputable places lately that some agencies are requiring the international license - the trend is to enforce the rule of having to carry one. And the reason is not just more red tape, it's so the local gendarms can read your information .... very little English outside of main cities.

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Train Travel
Level Contributor
103,512 posts
17 reviews
18 helpful votes
4. Re: Documents Needed to Rent a Car

An International Drivers Permit can be obtained from AAA in USA, but is not a legal requirement in France. It might be helpful if you encounter a gendarme who wants to be officious. Do not get an International Drivers Licence, which is a meaningless piece of paper sold by some web sites.

Paris, France
Destination Expert
for Paris, Loire Valley
Level Contributor
25,513 posts
2 reviews
6 helpful votes
5. Re: Documents Needed to Rent a Car

There is no rule, no trend, no requirement of any kind to have an International Driving Permit while driving in France. In fact there is very little to no reading of any kind on a license in the first place. The French police know that the dates on US licenses are written in the format: mm dd yy, they can identify the state in which it was issued, even determine the expiration date. A French policeman is a very cunning fellow with extensive capabilities.

The Italian police force is apparently not so clever as an IDP is required there.

What you should check when picking up a rental is that a copy of a "Constat" is in the glove box. The reverse side should be in English. In the event of an accident, the drivers complete the form and submit it to the local police station.

Making sure you have a pen available is another excellent precaution.

JSN
San Francisco...
Level Contributor
362 posts
39 reviews
50 helpful votes
6. Re: Documents Needed to Rent a Car

Wow, I hope the guy from Dallas is never jet-lagged and slumped over the rental car counter at 8am trying to understand why they won't give him a car. As an experienced traveller, it seems to me that getting whatever at AAA might be a wise choice.

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
26,171 posts
63 reviews
77 helpful votes
7. Re: Documents Needed to Rent a Car

If you have travel insurance make sure you know what it will cover with the car. Most have what I think you call a damage waiver. If so, you will not need to take this out as additional insurance on the car. They will ask if you want it and will urge you to take it, so be prepared.I might add that some travel insurance does not cover you for theft if the luggage is visible, so ensure the car has either a trunk or one of those shelves or covers that hide the luggage space.

(our story of this in the USA involved being transferred from a compact to a shiny black Mustang at no extra cost. Very swish)

Perth, Western...
Level Contributor
1,705 posts
5 reviews
2 helpful votes
8. Re: Documents Needed to Rent a Car

<<.I might add that some travel insurance does not cover you for theft if the luggage is visible, so ensure the car has either a trunk or one of those shelves or covers that hide the luggage space.>>

Lynneb - that's very interesting. Last Easter my parents, brother and sister-in-law had all their luggage stolen from a Toyota Tarago people mover which was parked outside my apartment here in Perth for a couple of hours before they went to the airport for the flight home to NZ!! (I live in what is considered a very safe suburb!) The luggage was visible and it seems from your post they were very fortunate to have had their extensive insurance claims met.

Their experience made me think twice when I rented a car in Canberra and was told the parcel shelf was missing - I too got an upgrade to a much "swisher" car when I explained why that wasn't acceptable. Before my folks' incident, I wouldn't have given it a second thought. I'm not sure what one can do with vechicles such as a van which doesn't have a shelf. Cover everything with a blanket I guess (but that would probably give the thieves (who are obviously opportunistic) the idea there was something underneath worth stealing. :-(

Paris, France
Destination Expert
for Paris, Loire Valley
Level Contributor
25,513 posts
2 reviews
6 helpful votes
9. Re: Documents Needed to Rent a Car

Our fellow posters from Australia bring up several excellent points about car theft which may be a bigger problem in France than is generally known among many tourists (my French friends caution me about this all of the time).

It is important to be careful, keep in mind that thieves know which cars are likely being driven by tourists. Those with:

1. Red license plates - indicating a non taxed or foreign leased auto.

2. Distant department numbers on the license plate. The last two digits on a French plate indicate the department of registration. Europcar for instance registers many of their automobiles in Haute Normandie. When driving around Provence with a plate ending in 76, the fact that you are either from a distant department or probably a renter is not missed by those looking for tourist prey.

3. Little white square stickers still stuck near the refuel port which say something like "gasoil only". These stickers are placed on all new cars with diesel engines to remind owners of the correct fuel requirements. Real owners remove them, renters don't bother.

It is difficult to avoid leaving items in your car when on vacation. Some suggestions:

1. Lock valuables in the glove box.

2. Leave nothing in plain view, particularly maps and English language magazines or newspapers.

3. Place a copy of a local French newspaper (date not important) clearly visible in the windshield.

There are no guarantees but tourists can be easy prey for the unscrupulous. Common sense can help avoid tragedies.

San Francisco...
Level Contributor
3,133 posts
23 reviews
119 helpful votes
10. Re: Documents Needed to Rent a Car

Don't bother with the international drivers' license/permit - we did that a couple of years ago, and the rental car clerks had no idea what it was and didn't care (your US license and/or passport will be sufficient).

Also, I don't want to alarm people unnecessarily, but I always get the insurance. If you get into a dispute, you don't want them putting a 20,000 euro (for example) hold on the credit card that you thought would cover the insurance, while you sort things out with your credit card company as to what they "really" cover and what's excluded. It's just not worth the hassle, especially as they may put a hold on your card until it's resolved.