Here’s What You Need to Know Before Renting a Car Overseas

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Before you make the arrangements, do your homework about insurance and paperwork requirements and restrictions for those older than a certain age.

Kathie Baker has reservations about her rental car, and with good reason.

She’s flying to Halifax, Nova Scotia, in July to attend a conference with her husband and then taking a few days to explore Canada’s scenic Maritime Provinces. But she’s heard about surcharges imposed on older drivers, mandatory insurance requirements and other unanticipated fees.

“I’m concerned that we’ll be stuck paying for extras,” says Baker, a translator who lives in Pittsburgh. “Will we be fleeced because we’re Americans?”

Probably not. But she’s right to be cautious. Renting vehicles outside the United States is an experience that can have unexpected detours. They include age-related charges, special insurance requirements and potential paperwork problems, such as the requirement of an international driving permit.

Baker has heard about international car renters paying surcharges for being older than a certain age and fears that her 72-year-old husband might have to shell out more, despite his clean driving record.

She needn’t worry about that, says Craig Hirota, a spokesman for the Associated Canadian Car Rental Operators, a trade group. If the couple rent from one of the major American car rental companies, then the company’s Canadian locations will operate similarly to their U.S. counterparts. In other words, no age-related surcharges.

But they’ll still have to pay attention to the terms of their rental, he warns: “There may be mileage caps and over-mileage charges applicable if the vehicles are driven out of the province, so prospective clients should inquire prior to committing to a rental.”

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