Renting a car


If you have a valid driving licence, you can rent a car or a larger vehicle.

You will usually have to show proof of identity (for example, your passport) and a credit card (or debit card if accepted). You will also need to show your valid driving licence. Check with the rental company to see if you need more documentation, for example an international driver’s permit.

There are many companies offering car rental services. Check you are using an approved car rental company. If you are going through a car hire broker, check they are using an approved car rental company. Approved car rental companies must make sure all rentals are safe and roadworthy.

Rental agreement

You will be asked to sign a rental agreement or contract when you pick up the car. Before you sign it, make sure you have read it and understand what your obligations are. For example, you may need to return the car with a full tank of fuel to avoid extra charges. If you are unsure about anything, always ask your rental company to explain it to you.

If you plan on taking the rented car across a national border, ask the car rental company beforehand if this is possible.

Important checks at pickup

Make sure to check the car thoroughly before you drive away.

You will usually get a diagram of the car with exterior damage marked on it. Check the car for any extra damage and make sure this is recorded before you drive away. You can be charged for any damage that is not marked on the diagram or damage report.

Even if you arrive at the car rental depot at night, use a torch or flash light to give the car a thorough check before you accept it.

Other things to check
Tyres Check they are inflated and in good condition.

Check the spare tyre as well.

Tools Check there is a jack and a wrench to replace a tyre if you get a puncture.

Make sure you have all the safety equipment you need for the area you are travelling.

Fuel Ask if the car runs on petrol or diesel (you may have to cover any damage if you put the wrong type of fuel in the car).

Usually you need to refill the car before you return it. Check you have a full tank when you start.

Lights Check your lights are all working properly, including indicators, break lights and fog lights.
Windscreen Give the windscreen a thorough check and ask for any flaws to be repaired. Make sure that the wiper blades and the windscreen wash system is working properly.


Make sure you have the right insurance. If you and someone else will both be driving the car, make sure you both have insurance. You must have at least third-party insurance cover.

The rental company may offer you a lower price for not giving you particular cover (such as collision damage). Before you agree to waive any cover, make sure you understand what it means and whether it's worth the risk. Ask how this discount works, for example, you may have to pay a deposit in case you damage the car in a crash.

Returning the car

When you return the car to the car rental company, make sure that you have the car checked while you are there. Any damage should be noted and agreed with the rental company, to avoid charges for damage you did not know about.

Even if you bought a damage waiver, car rental companies can charge your card for any excess amounts if there is a lot of damage.

If you are returning the car when the office is closed, make sure you know what to do and who to contact if there are any problems. The rental agreement should cover the arrangements and procedures for out of hours returns.

Drivers over 75

If you are 75 or over, you may have to meet some extra conditions before hiring a car.

For example, you could be asked for:

  • Confirmation that you drive regularly
  • A letter from your insurer to say you have an up-to-date policy and no accidents in last 5 years
  • A letter from your doctor confirming you are fit to drive

You could also be asked to do a driving assessment with a staff member from the car hire company.

How to make a complaint

If you have a complaint about a car that you have rented in Ireland, first go to the company and ask them to fix the problem. If you are still not satisfied, contact the Car Rental Council of Ireland who have a complaints procedure for member companies.

If you have a complaint with a car rental company in another EU member state, contact the European Consumer Centre for advice on your rights and help with your complaint.

More information

You can find more information on renting a car from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and the European Consumer Centre.

The Car Rental Council of Ireland has information on the Code of Practice for the car rental industry.

Car Rental Council of Ireland

ECC Ireland

Bloom House,
Railway Street,
Dublin 1
D01 C576

Page edited: 28 March 2023