Home » Our Guide to Lake Garda » Car Hire Guide

Whether you’re planning to drive from the airport to your accommodation or you are looking to experience the stunning scenery surrounding Lake Garda, renting a car in Italy gives you the freedom to go wherever and whenever you want. This guide will tell you everything you need to know on how to rent a car in Italy and what you should consider.

It’s easy to hire a car in Italy and there are plenty of suppliers at all the airports, major train stations as well city centre locations. Peak seasons such as half-term holidays, summer and Christmas often book up quickly so it’s always advisable to book online in advance which also means you can take advantage of the best prices too.

Documents you need to rent a car in Italy

Whenever you get a quote online, always be sure to check the Important Information details. These will always tell you the things you need to rent your Italian car as well as any minimum requirements.

The most common documents are:

  • A Credit Card (showing the first and surname of the main driver) and sufficient funds for the temporary hold of any Security Deposit or Excess.

Most car hire companies in Italy require you to present a credit card when you collect the car and usually, they do not accept debit cards or prepaid credit cards. Remember to check this and if you’re unsure, check with your bank before you travel to make sure your card is a credit card.

  • The main driver’s original Full Driving Licence (the physical licence). If you are travelling from the UK, you must present the main driver’s photocard licence. Remember to check the age requirements for your chosen supplier as well as how long you should have held your licence for and any restrictions regarding endorsements.
  • Additional photo ID on an official document, such as a Passport or national ID card.
  • International Driving Permit*

*UK drivers do not need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to visit or drive in Europe but it is always advisable to check Government guidance prior to travel as well as any requirements from the specific rental car provider. Some car hire companies do require this.

If it is needed you can get an IDP over the counter at the Post Office and costs £5.50.

Travellers from Ireland don’t usually require an IDP as this is for travel outside of the EU/EEA but wherever you are travelling from, we always recommend checking with the driving licence authority in your country prior to travel.

Car Rental Insurance in Italy

When selecting which car hire provider or car hire offer for your trip to Italy, you should always check the information regarding Insurance Coverage, Security Deposits and Damage & Theft Excess. During your online booking, you can always see this information and decide if you wish to buy additional cover.

Car Hire Insurance Coverage

Always check the documents what is covered and what is not. Third party will always be covered and often, the supplier will provide limited insurance coverage for things such as bodywork damage and theft. However, they often won’t cover damage or loss to keys, tyres, windscreen or under the vehicle – if that’s the case and you don’t take out adequate cover, you will be liable for those damages.

Refundable Security Deposit

A refundable security deposit is sometimes taken as a temporary hold on the credit card you present at the rental desk. Providing you do what the supplier has asked when you return the car, the deposit will be returned to your account.

Things that are often required of you are to return the vehicle with the correct amount of fuel (so usually full); no fines or toll charges and you haven’t gone over your mileage (assuming you haven’t opted for unlimited).

Damage and Theft Excess

This is something to check carefully before you confirm your booking. The Damage & Theft excess is usually the maximum amount that you will pay in the event of damage, theft or incident. The amount does depend on the car hire company so check the information before confirming your booking.

What is the car hire excess charge?

If you’re still unsure about excess, here’s an example for you.

Lets say you scratch the body of the car while you’re parking. The damage costs € 1,000. You’re maximum excess with the car hire company is € 500. In this case, you will pay the € 500 toward the damages.

Often, car hire companies in Italy will give you the option to remove or lower this excess so you won’t incur such high charges. However, these can often be quite expensive. Companies such as Reduce My Excess provide you with an alternative and very reasonable way to cover any excess charges.

Simply put, you can purchase a seperate insurance policy that allows you to be reimbursed the amount of the excess you have to pay to a car hire company if you accidentally damage the hire car. Read more about this Car hire Excess Insurance here.

How old do you have to be to rent a car in Italy?

The age requirements for renting a car in Italy can vary depending on the car hire company but usually the minimum is 19 years old and maximum up to 75 years old.

The standard car hire rates in Italy usually include a driver between the ages of 26 and 69 years. Young drivers, so 19 to 25 years, can drive the vehicles but this carries a supplement charge. The same goes for senior drivers over 70 years old.

Often, the car hire company will require the drivers licence to be held for a minimum of 1 year and with no major endorsements but do check first.

How much does it cost to rent a car in Italy?

When you book online, you will see varying prices from the different Italian Car hire companies but prices can start from as little as € 10 per day! It’s always a good idea to use a comparison tool like ours here to make sure you are getting the best deal.

Deposits and Fees when hiring a car hire in Italy

When you rent a car in Italy, the car hire company will often require you to leave a deposit amount (this can vary from € 200 to € 2,000) against your credit card for the duration of the rental. This deposit is a gurantee held in the event of damage or theft of the vehicle. This is released if there is no theft or damage during time you have the car.

Remember though that this does not represent your total excess liability as we mentioned earlier.

The credit card you present must nearly always be in the name of the lead driver and just note that if it isn’t or there is a lack of funds available or you present a card other than those they have specified as accepted, the car hire company may refuse to release the car to you.

Renting a car in Italy with Children

As parents ourselves, we remain surprised at the amount of things we need to take with us when travelling to Italy, from prams, carry-cots and everything else that goes with it.

Always remember to think about the size of vehicle you are renting. If it’s too small when you arrive, the car hire company may not have an alternative vehicle available.

Like in the UK and many other countries, all passengers are required by law to use seat belts whenever in the car and whether it is moving or not. Children under 1,50 m have to be restrained in an appropriate car seat. If you don’t plan to take one with you, rememeber to select this when making your car hire booking so you can guarantee availability when you collect your car.

Top Tips for renting a car in Italy

Here are our suggestions that are worth considering when you are looking at car hire in Italy.

Dropping off in a different location

Often, car hire companies will allow you to pick up from one location and deliver the car to another. There is usually a charge for this so do check carefully.

Collection & Pick Up

During the peak times of the year, be aware of queues at the pick up counters. If you have the option, it’s often a good idea to use self-service options where possible which will speed up the process of picking your car up.

Many car hire companies will charge you a fee (or cancel your car hire) if you don’t pick up the vehicle at the arranged time so ensure you choose a time that is suitable for you. It’s best to always give yourself more time for pick-up than you expect. Sometimes, the rental office will be in the terminal but in some airports, there’s a good walk to get to the car parking area.

Be aware of the times that the car hire service counter is open. They are not usually 24 hour and may charge if you pick up or return your hire car outside of their normal times.

Inspect the car

Always inspect the car before you drive away and make sure that any damages to the car are actually recorded on the rental contract. If they are not, you run the risk of being charged for these when you return the car.

If there are damages that are not recorded, make sure you tell a rental agent and that it is noted.

Take a photo and/or video of the car, inside and out and also record the mileage/kilometres when you pick up the car as well as the fuel level.

Documents

Always keep your rental contract in the car. Not only does this contain emergency numbers including any details on what to do in the event of breakdown or accident but in Italy, vehicles are often subject to random checks by the authorities. You will need to present your rental contract if this happens as well as your driving licence. By law, you are required to carry your driving licence with you at all times.

Safety

It is a legal requirement in Italy that you have a safety triangle and high-visibility vest accessible within the car at all times so check this before you leave.

If you’re travelling in the winter, make sure to check that there are winter tyres fitted or snow chains in the car. Many parts of Italy require these between November and April.

Returning your hire car in Italy

As you are liable for damages to your car, remember to inspect and record the condition of the vehicle when you return it, much like when you collect it.

Ensure you are also returning the car according to the fuel and mileage policies. Many car hire companies in Italy require you to return the car with the same amount of fuel as when you collected it (usually full to full) and if you haven’t, they will charge you a price per litre significantly higher than the price at the local service station.

Most car hire suppliers offer unlimited mileage/kilometres but check beforehand to avoid any surprises when you return your car.

Where to fill up with fuel before returning your hire car in the airport

Take a look at our map for the best places to fill up your car before you return it to the airport. They are close to the terminals meaning you can fill up just before returning your car and avoid any costly fuel charges.

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