What Paperwork Do I Need to Hire a Car?

A hire car can add many benefits to a holiday. Rather than going out on pre-planned excursions, you can instead explore in your own time, heading to places others may not venture out to or may not know about. A hire car brings a sense of freedom you just don’t get with other holidays.

Before you venture out to the hidden gems of your destination, though, there will be a few things you need to do to make sure you can collect a hire car and drive it legally.

Our guide will show you everything you need to make sure your journey is as smooth as your driving, and as stress-free as your car hire excess insurance policy.

How can I find the best hire car deals?

You will likely be swamped with a variety of deals when you book your holiday. Don’t jump at the first one that comes up – there are plenty of tips to secure a great deal that could save you lots of money. We recently looked at whether early car hire booking is advisable and found that much depends on destinations, time of year and various other factors.

Ultimately, we recommend shopping around to find a car that suits your needs and is within budget. Cheap may seem fantastic, but the overall deal may cost you more in the long run. Likewise, high prices may seem like they are bringing you better quality, but you could also be getting ripped off when you compare them against other companies.

Make sure you consider the following:

  • Does the rate include unlimited mileage?
  • Is VAT included?
  • Is there a location surcharge?
  • What is the damage excess payment?

These alone will help you assess the total value of the cost and make a judgement as to whether that hire car is the one for you.

Once you have found something that suits your requirements and budget, you can move on and ensure you have the correct documentation to proceed.

What do I need to hire a car?

Simply asking for a car and handing over a payment will not secure you a hire car. There are a few things any car hire outlet will need from you for the transaction to be approved. Preparing this before your trip will be important, even if you only decide to hire a car after you have arrived in the country.

Full UK Driving License

Of all the documents you need to bring, this is perhaps the most important. Your licence proves you are eligible to drive the car you wish to hire.


Most car hire companies will ask for proof of ID alongside your driving license. A passport is the most common form of ID, and will be widely accepted by those you choose to hire your car from.

DVLA Licence Check Code

A quick look at your licence will not show the car hire company whether you have accrued any points or convictions. Supplying them with your DVLA licence check code will allow them to check your eligibility. To acquire your code, you must visit the DVLA website where you will need to enter your NI number, postcode and driving licence number.

The code will then be generated and be valid for 21 days. The code must also be valid when you return your vehicle, so do not apply for it too early.

Proof of return travel

Some car hire companies may require proof that you are leaving the country once the vehicle is returned. This is not as common as the requirements we have listed above, but to be safe, have a return flight ticket to hand.

International Driving Permit (IDP)

Depending on where you are travelling, you may need an International Driving Permit (IDP). This requirement varies by country and we explain, in-depth, why you would need an International Driving Permit in an earlier blog. To summarise, if you are visiting the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein you will not need one. However, certain licence types may mean that you do need one, no matter where you travel.

Credit card

A credit card will be necessary for the hire company to take a deposit. This ensures that they are protected should you cause any damage to the vehicle. Debit cards cannot usually be used for this as the company ring-fence the funds on your credit card, something that cannot happen with debit card transactions.

Car hire excess insurance

Whilst this isn’t a requirement for hiring a car, it is something that can give you peace of mind whilst using a hire car. A comprehensive excess insurance plan will mean that you are safe from any additional fees when returning your car. Tyre cover, window cover and drop-off charges are just some of the things covered by one of these policies.


You can always speak to the team at Direct Car Hire Excess. Our worldwide car excess insurance means that you can continue exploring and enjoying your trip without the fear of an exorbitant bill blemishing the memories of a great time away. Contact our team today to get a free quote and see how we can keep you covered.

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