How do I rent a car in Germany?

How do I rent a car in Germany?

Germany was the first country in the world to develop a national system of superhighways, and for many years Germany's Autobahn system was a model for other nations. After unification, Autobahns in the eastern part of the country were significantly upgraded. Today Germany has nearly 9660 km of Autobahns and an extremely well developed network of lesser highways. This makes driving a rental car in Germany exceptionally easy, and the German network is interconnected with networks in neighboring countries. Germany is about 805 km long (from north to south) and 644 km wide in its longest dimensions. There are also, of course, downsides to driving in Germany as a foreigner, such as high prices for gas and parking and strict parking rules which you’ll get high fines for breaking. If that doesn’t scare you, then there are a few things you need to know about renting a car in Germany.

To rent a car in Germany, you need a valid driver’s license from your home state or province.

Visitors may also consider getting an ​International Driving Permit at your local Department of Motor Vehicles which is only about 15 EUR and accepted in many places around the world. This is a companion document to your valid country's driver's license and is valid for 1 year. However, this document is not required for Germany.

The legal driving age in Germany is 18, but usually, drivers have to be over 21 to rent a car.

Search for rental cars before you fly to Germany, and reserve your car in advance (14 days beforehand ideally). You will get better rates than booking upon arrival.

Base rates vary wildly depending on the time of year, duration of rental, the age of driver, destination, and location of rental. Shop around to find the best price. Note that charges usually do not include the 16% Value Added Tax (VAT), registration fee, or any airport fees (but do include the required third-party liability insurance). These additional fees may equal up to 25% of the daily rental. Generally, you would pay around 50 EUR a day of rental.

Planning to explore other European countries? Check first with your rental company, and make sure it is allowed to take your rental car across the border. There may be restrictions or higher premiums required for taking a vehicle into nearby Poland or other Eastern European countries. Fees normally are 20% to 30% more than regular rates, but vary by location. 

Also, note that dropping a car off at a different location or city than pick-up may result in an extra charge.

Speed limit is 50 km/h in towns, 100 km/h on open roads, 130 km/h on highways.

Driving is on the right-hand side of the road.

Find more information about driving in Germany. 

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