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Help and advice for consumers in Europe

As regards car hire, there are no uniform regulations at European level;

it is nevertheless possible to specify the standard conditions for the majority of hire contracts, of which to be aware to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Generally speaking, the following apply:

  • a minimum age (between 20 and 23 years) and a maximum age (between 65 and 75 years);
  • obligation to submit a currently valid document authorising driving (mostly a specific age for driving is required);
  • obligation to provide security using a valid credit card (Bank cards or prepaid cards are not accepted although in some cases they can be used for making a reservation of car hire online);
  • obligation to return the vehicle with full tank of petrol or at the same level at which the vehicle was delivered;
  • obligation to return the vehicle to the same place at which it was delivered.

It is essential to give full attention to reading the contractual conditions; before signature it is furthermore preferable to check the various items and costs included, amongst which may be hidden additional insurance or ancillary services not requested.

Other precautions of fundamental importance are ensuring checking that all pre-existing damage to  the vehicle are noted and documented at the time of taking possession and detailing with utmost accuracy the condition in which the vehicle is returned, as well as on the sign-off document of the hire. It is not infrequent the company arbitrarily debits costs for damages not caused by the client and it often becomes very difficult to prove the consumer’s non-liability for the damage.

Amongst the European Consumer Centre’s publications guidelines are available regarding hire, a useful tool to avoid being caught unprepared for any event.


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