A fine with a rental car: what to do?

When you rent a car, whether on holiday or for work, it is most often to drive far from home, in another city or even in a different country. A different car, different roads, and perhaps different road signs and rules can lead to a mistake that can result in a traffic ticket. What to do if you get a ticket with a rental car?

If a police officer stops the vehicle and notifies us of a traffic offence, the procedure is the usual one: the fine notice itself contains the rule infringed, the amount to be paid and the means of payment, so you only have to follow the instructions.

However, most traffic offences are caught by speed cameras, so they are not notified on the spot. In these cases the traffic authorities notify the fine to the owner of the vehicle, the rental company, which is obliged to identify the driver. The rental companies apply a surcharge to the driver if the vehicle receives a fine (about €50). The payment of this surcharge is independent of the payment of the fine, which must be made to the competent authority.

Fine with a rental car abroad

In general, rental cars can only be driven in the country in which they are rented. In order to cross a border, it is necessary to inform the rental company in advance and pay a surcharge. Rental vehicles are usually insured only in your country. In the event of an accident or a simple traffic control, the fine for driving without insurance is one of the most serious and costly.

European regulations stipulate that fines must be notified in the official language of the country in which the vehicle is registered. This means that if we commit an offence with a German vehicle we will receive the notification in German, and if we commit the offence with a Spanish vehicle the fine will be in Spanish. This is the case regardless of the country to which the fine notice is sent.

Of course, we must abide by the regulations and procedures of the country in which the traffic offence is committed. Before renting a car abroad, it is important to find out about the traffic regulations of the countries you are going to visit. A speeding fine has a very different amount and payment deadlines in Italy and Spain, for example.

Who has to pay a rental car fine?

Rental contracts are very clear: when you rent a car, you assume responsibility for any offences committed during the rental period. This means that the driver must pay all fines. If a fine is not paid, the authorities can claim payment from the rental company, which will pass the cost on to the driver (additional charges may also apply).

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