FAQ: How to rent a car in France

Renting a car is a practical and economical way to get around while traveling. Although distance is not as much of an issue while in France as it is in Canada, having a rental car also allows you a greater degree of freedom when passing through different areas of the country.

Our quick quide will help set you up with a successful rental in no time!

What are the requirements to rent a car?

  • at least 21 years old. For those under the age of 25, young driver's insurance is required.
  • The driver must have a license that is valid for at least one year beyond the rental date and which corresponds to the vehicle you wish to rent. In France there are multiple permits, such as for cars, motorcycles and trucks. For certain vehicles, such as 4X4s or large sedans, the driver(s) must be 25 years or older with a license that is valid for at least three more years.

It is possible to register more than one driver for the same vehicle with a surcharge, provided that you specify beforehand and respect all other predetermined conditions.

Which documents need to be provided?

  • Proof of identity (a passport is required for non-EU citizens)
  • A valid driver's license, keeping in mind:
    • Declarations of loss or theft as well as suspended/restricted licenses will not be accepted.
    • For non-EU citizens, an international permit or an official French translation of a national permit normally needs to be accompanied by a national permit in order to be accepted. In Canada, international driving permits are provided by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA). For more information, click here (External link) .
  • Proof of residence dated at least 2 months in advance (or proof of income), such as an electricity bill for example.
  • A method of payment made under your name: the person renting the car should be the one making the payment.
  • A deposit is also required in case of damage incurred during the rental or to cover potential additional charges

And as far as insurance?

Third party insurance is generally included in the rental price, which covers damage and injury incurred by a third party and their vehicle, even if you are responsible for it. However, this insurance does not cover damage or injury to the driver or their car.

Many base contacts provide a deductible (damages not guaranteed by the rental company) which tend to be high. If you are partly responsible for an accident, you are responsible for covering the damage done to the rented vehicle at the deductible level stated in your contract.

You can add complementary insurance to your rental to be covered in case of damange to the car.

And did you know that some banks will cover you while you travel, provided that you used your card with them to make a payment? We would encourage you to ask your bank directly, you may be in for a pleasant surprise!

Can you drive a rental car into other countries?

You can use your car rental internationally, though certain countries may not authorize this. Just remember to inquire in advance with the rental company as your vehicle's insurance is no longer valid if you do not abide by their conditions.

Extras offered by certain rental companies

If you are not traveling too far of a distance opt for the limited mileage option, which will offer you a better rate.

You can also ask for accessories (such as a carseat, cooler or portable GPS) but they are often expensive and not offered by all rental companies, meaning that if necessary you may have to provide them yourself.

A buy-back option is often advantageous for longer stays. This sales option is intended for people whose usual place of residence is outside the European Union and who are staying in Europe for a period of 17 to 165 days. The customer will own a new vehicle and will only pay for the period of use.

Some other tips

  • Reserve your vehicle as far in advance as possible to ensure availability. However, if you are looking for a specific model the rental company may not be able to guarantee it at all times.
  • Before leaving with your vehicle, it is important to verify its state (both interior and exterior) in the presence of the renter to make sure that you are not held responsible for damages incurred before your rental.
  • Do not forget to refuel your car before returning it, otherwise you risk additional fees applied by the renter.
  • Return your car to the rental agency at the pre-determined time: if it is returned late, you may be charged for another half (or even whole) day.