Thinking about renting a car in Germany? Before you zoom away on the autobahn, here are some important tips to read.
Essential Tips for Renting a Car in Germany
Book from home. Don't wait until you get to Germany to rent a vehicle. It will be cheaper to book your car from the United States before you go. The further ahead you reserve your car, the better the chance of landing a deal because you can watch out for price drops.
You do not need an International Driving Permit. Your US- or Canadian-issued driver's license in English will be accepted just fine, so there's no need to get an International Driving Permit, which is simply a translated version of your state-issued driver's license.
You'll drive on the right. Like the rest of continental Europe, Germany is a country where people drive on the right side of the road.
Pay for the rental in euros. Although it may seem easier to be charged in dollars instead of euros, this option will cost you more in the long run. Pay in the local currency to avoid Dynamic Currency Conversion fees. If you opt to pay in U.S. dollars, the rental car company converts the purchase amount from the local currency on your behalf. But this process is entirely unnecessary, since your credit card company will process the transaction in either currency, and you will pay through the nose for the non-convenience.
Double check your insurance coverage. Before you leave home, contact your credit card company to see what collision coverage, if any, it offers on car rentals abroad. A car rental contract in Germany generally requires fire insurance and third-party liability. These supplemental fees will automatically be added to the cost of your rental.
Expect to pay more for an automatic transmission. Do you know how to drive a car with a stick shift? The vast majority of Germany's rental vehicles have manual transmission. If you don't specifically request an automatic transmission, the vehicle will come with a manual transmission. If you need an automatic vehicle, it can be easier to find one at an airport location.
Prepare for high taxes and surcharges. Rental cars are slapped with Germany's 16% Value Added Tax (VAT), registration fee, and airport fees (but rates do include the required third-party liability insurance). These additional fees may equal up to 25% of the daily rental.
Inspect the car carefully before driving it off the lot. Make sure to protect yourself from potential false damage claims by carefully look over your car before driving away. Document every nick, scratch or dent. Your smartphone will come in handy for taking photos of any imperfections to ensure you won't have to pay for them later.
Find parking meters and use them. Like street parking in many cities, you'll no longer see meters along the side of the street—but you still need to pay for parking. Find the machine that says "Parkscheine" to pay for whatever amount of time you plan on being parked there, and leave the ticket on the dashboard.