How To Rent a Car in English?

Tori Tornreviewed byNataliia Afonina / more about Editorial Process11 min
Created: Jan 12, 2023Last updated: Jan 11, 2024
How To Rent a Car in English

Planning a trip to a foreign country is stressful alone enough, not to mention that you have to communicate with locals there in English. As a tourist or a professional traveler, you need to know how to rent an apartment in English, check in a hotel, book tours, order food, and many other things. But if you are going for a road trip across a new country or want to explore the countryside in your favorite European city, you must learn how to rent a car in English. And that is what we are doing today! 


How To Rent a Car In A Foreign Country Online

Since we are not in the 90s anymore, we have the privilege of renting a car for a road trip online. You can forget about going to the car rental locations directly and waiting in long lines to find out the vehicle you need isn't available. Today you can just google "rent a car" or "car rental," add the city where you will start your road trip, and make a booking. Also, you might search "hire car." What is a hire car? Simply, it is the car that you rent for a short period. 

To make renting a car in English easier, we will provide you with all the vital vocabulary you might need along the way. So be ready to memorize all the car words you need to navigate in filters on car rental websites.

First, decide on your pick-up location – where it will be convenient to collect a rental car. For example, it can be an airport or other car hire office in the area. Then, consider what type of car you would like to rent. The price for one rental day will vary depending on your chosen vehicle. 

The types of cars available for rent:

  • Hatchback
  • Saloon or sedan 
  • Estate car
  • Sports car 
  • MPV (Multi-purpose Vehicle) 
  • SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) 
  • Convertible 
  • Minibus 
  • Campervan

Once you know what car you want to rent, choose what type of transmission you prefer – manual or automatic. Manual transmission is when the driver changes the gear by manual operations with a gear stick and clutch. Automatic cars have gearboxes that change the speed and don't require the driver to do it manually. 

These days, rental cars usually go with unlimited mileage, meaning you have no limits on the driving distance within your payment. However, it won't hurt if you double-check that you don't have to make extra fees for driving more than a certain number of kilometers or miles. 

Also, you should decide on what type of car, by fuel consumption, you want to rent. It can be an electric or petrol car. On one hand, an electric car is cheaper for renting. Unfortunately, there still aren't many charging stations for electric vehicles worldwide. The patrol car might be a better option because it gives you a more comprehensive car range to choose from, and you can find gas stations everywhere. 

If you decide to go with a patrol car, pay attention to the fuel policy of the rental company or agency. It determines how much gas in a tank is guaranteed when you collect a car and how much you have to return the vehicle. "Tank at the same level" means that the tank can be half-empty, and you need to refuel the car to the same fuel level you received it with. "Full tank" means you pick up and give back the vehicle fully refueled. 

When you have decided on a rental car, pick-up location, and the number of days, you can pay with your credit card, where you have to give your full details. However, before redirecting you to the payment page, you will be asked to choose if you need car insurance covering any damages in case of accidents or breakdowns. If you decide to add it, you will have to pay an extra fee which will be included in your total check. 

In addition, with a car, you can rent some necessary things such as a GPS Unit that will help you confidently go from A to B, a kid's seat for children till the age of 5, or a safety booster, a seat for older kids. All of that will be given for an extra payment. 

When the car renting period is out, you can return the vehicle to the drop-off location, which can be discussed later on.  

How To Rent A Car Via A Phone Call

If you are old-fashioned or want to practice your English-speaking skills, you can hire a car by phone. You can start the conversation by saying, "Hi. I would like to rent a car" or "Hi. I need like to hire a car." Then mention where and when you are going. For instance, "I'm flying to Toronto on May 26th." That will help the manager offer you available options on your date and location. 

You can give them all the vital information about the reservation you want to make it once by preparing to answer the following questions:

- "What size car would you like?"/"What type of car would you like?" / "What type of car do you need?"

- "How much is the small car?" / "How much is the midsize car?"

- "How many does the small car seat?" / "How many can fit in the midsize car?"

- "How long will you be needing the car?" / "How long will you be renting the car?" / "When do you need the car till?"

- "Would you like insurance on the car?"

- "Who is going to be the driver?"

- "How many people are going to drive?"

- "Are all the drivers at least 25 years old?"

In the end, the manager will ask you to provide personal information about the driver, such as name, last name, residency, country, and address. And it's all done! The car is reserved! If you rent a car at the airport without a previous reservation, the manager will ask you the same questions. So, don't worry, you are prepared for a face-to-face interaction as well. 


Documents To Have On You For Renting A Car For A Road Trip

When it's time to pick up your rental car at the airport or pick-up location, you must have certain essential documents on you. Rental companies need them to check your booking and driving qualifications to ensure the ride will go smoothly for you. So, what do you have to show at the car hire counter?


The proof of booking a rental car is a voucher. And you must present your booking details at the car hire counter, so be prepared. However, the car rental manager still will check your booking details in their system. If you rented a car online, the agency had to email you your booking voucher and all the necessary information, such as the pick-up location and their contacts. 

Driving license

A valid driver's license is a must for renting a car. It proves that you can legally operate the chosen type of vehicle. If you add additional drivers, they will also be asked to show their driving licenses. 

Proof of ID

The car rental manager will require your passport for identity verification if you have a paper driver's permit without a photo. However, even if your driving license includes a photo card, proof of identity is still mandatory for picking up a rental car. You can show your international passport where your name is correctly written in English. 

Credit card

The main driver should have their valid credit card on them even if they put all the payment information during online booking. Despite the urge to rely on Apple or Google Pay, rentals recommend having your physical credit card just in case. You never know what systems might or might not work in different countries. 

The credit card is needed to pay for the car rental period, insurance, and deposit for any damage that might happen. Per usual, rental agencies block the deposit amount on your credit card to be sure that it won't be spent and that you will be able to cover repairs in case something happens to the car. 

International Driving Permit (IDP)

As a foreigner, you will need an International Driving Permit (IDP) in some countries on top of your national driver's license. It is a legal document that contains an official translation of your national driver's permit and regulates your travel safety according to the UN International Conventions on Road Traffic. You must apply for your IDP in the country that issued your national driver's permit in advance. 

Rental contract

A rental contract is one document you don't need to have on you because the car rental company will give it to you. However, you will need to sign it at the counter to agree to all of the terms and conditions of the car rental agency. So always read a contract before signing and make one copy for yourself. 

How Promova Can Help You To Rent A Car In English

Have you just started or been traveling for a while? Either way, you cannot deny the importance of knowing English in your day-to-day life as a tourist! If you are visiting a foreign country, expect that the primary foreign language people operate there is English. So, you must know at least the most basic travel phrases and expressions in English to be able to orientate in the airport, catch your flights, find your way around the city, book and check in the hotel, order food, and know how to rent a car. Want to improve your English to the level where you will feel confident in your trips? Then hop on the learning train with Promova. 

Promova is a language learning platform that allows you to improve your English skills through all the possible forms of online learning. The easiest way to begin working on your English is to download the Promova app. We have a unique course, Travel English, which can help you prepare for essential communication on your trips. You will get a guided experience where bite-sized lessons are picked just for your needs and level. The first step is familiarizing yourself with new words and phrases through our dashing flashcards. Then, memorize them by playing simple games where you need to choose the correct answer. In the Travel English course, you can find different topics, including travel idioms, budget planning, choosing a hotel, car rental, and many more. To fully immerse yourself in the language, consider taking this course in English. At first, it might seem complicated, but learning English through English would result in achieving proficiency much faster. Make using the Promova app a habit for learning English. A minimum of 5 minutes per day of consistent practice will make you shine on trips. 

If you want to know more about how to rent a car for a road trip in English and practice the dialogue or fill up the online form, we suggest you go for one of Promova's tutoring programs. Our professional certified tutors can help you to overcome your fears and avoid making mistakes related to hiring a vehicle in English. Take individual lessons with a preferable teacher and dedicate time to improving travel English. 

Also, you can always join Free Conversation Club on Promova and suggest a topic for discussion. Yes, how to rent a car can be fun to talk about, especially when you know a lot of car phrases. The meetings of the Conversation Club are held weekly at no charge but with mandatory pre-registration. 


This article should help you navigate the car rental process much more easily. Now you know how to rent a car in English online and offline, what to look for in online forms, what to ask managers and what to have on you for picking up the vehicle at the location. Remember that before renting a car abroad, you should have a previous driving experience in your native country or other countries. If you are planning to get a new driver's permit in another country, you might be interested in reading the article What Do You Need To Know To Pass A Test To Get A Driver's License In English


Do I need a special document or license to rent a car abroad?

In many cases having a valid driver's license will be enough to rent a car abroad. However, the specifics of a car rental process depend on where your driver's permit was issued and where you are planning to drive a car. For instance, non-EU citizens need an International Driving Permit to go by car in the countries of the European Union. Also, IDP is required in some US states for drivers from the EU. So, it is better to obtain an International Driving Permit either way just to be secure in any country where you decide to hire a car. 

From what age a person rent a car in a foreign country?

The required age for renting a car in most countries is 18 because a person can legally sign a car renting contract after reaching official adulthood. However, in reality, car rental agencies in different countries have their own age policies for renting a vehicle. For instance, you will have to pay an additional fee if you are under 25. On top of that, car rental agencies will limit your renting options – you won't be able to hire some types of vehicles, such as sports cars. The same rules apply to senior drivers. 

Can I rent a car abroad if cars drive on the other side of the road in my country?

Yes, you definitely can! Even though it might be scary to drive on the other way of the road at first, you will get into it after a couple of hours. To make the process easier, you can train yourself to drive on the other side of the rod by watching videos on YouTube. Plus, the car's design - the driving seat, gear stick, and dashboard positioning will help you get used to driving on the other side of the road. However, because of that purpose, people would not recommend you to go by car to the country where the side of the road that cars drive on changes. It is very inconvenient. Fun fact: Only 31% of the countries go on the left. So, there is always a choice. 

How much does it cost to rent a small car for a day?

The renting prices for cars differ in each country. It depends on factors such as gas price, season, availability, demand, brand, etc. So, eventually, the cost of a rental car can start from $5 per day, and only the sky will be the limit. If you don't know where you can hire a vehicle only for $5 per day, google Catania, a gorgeous city in the South of Italy. However, if you have an idea about renting a car for a road trip, a small car might not fit you. So, consider other options and be ready to pay more. 


Alec BurtDec 12th, 2023
I appreciate the depth of research evident in this article
Ishan AfridNov 29th, 2023
Thanks for sharing this helpful guide on 'How To Rent a Car in English'! The language barrier can often be a concern for travelers, and your insights on navigating the process in English make the experience much more accessible. Also, mentioning that services like Zoomcar provide an option for renting a car adds an extra layer of convenience for those seeking a reliable platform.
PromovaJul 18th, 2023
Thank you for your question! When renting a car in English-speaking countries, along with a valid driver's license, a credit card for payment, and sometimes an international driving permit, you may also need to present a voucher (if applicable), proof of identification (such as a passport), and sign a rental contract. These additional documents and agreements ensure a smooth and secure car rental experience.
ZacJul 18th, 2023
What documents are typically required when renting a car in English-speaking countries?