Driving, Traveling

Cross-border Car Rental Booklet: From Spain To Other Countries

What is a cross-border fee on rental cars?

To drive your car outside the country of hire, you need to inform your car rental companies in advance and you may need to pay a cross-border fee. This fee covers extra taxes, insurance, and other expense that car rental companies charge to insure your cross country travels.

The figure below summarizes information about whether your rented car picking up from Spain can be taken to other countries.

The country you rent a car from: Spain

Country/countries you want to take the car to Forbidden Free Condition Charge
Alamo Portugal, Andorra, Gibraltar Germany, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy,  Monaco, Austria, Belgium, France, Switzerland
Thrifty Portugal ,Denmark, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, The Republic of San Marino, Austria, Andorra, Germany, Italy, Norway, Monaco, Belgium, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Gibraltar, Finland, United Kingdom, Netherlands
Avis Belarus, Lithuania, Romania, Macedonia
Hertz Italy Denmark, Austria, Andorra, Germany, Belgium, France, Finland,Netherlands,Monaco,Norway,United Kingdom,Switzerland,Luxembourg, Portugal
SIXT Denmark, Luxembourg, The Republic of San Marino, Austria, Andorra, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Lithuania, Switzerland,Portugal,Gibraltar,Monaco,Ireland,Netherlands,Vatican City,United Kingdom,France,Finland,Belgium Hungary, Latvia, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia, Estonia,Croatia,Slovakia
Budget Denmark, Luxembourg, The Republic of San Marino, Austria, Andorra, Germany, Italy, Vatican City State, Belgium, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Gibraltar, Finland, Netherlands, Portugal, Liechtenstein
Europcar Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Norway, The Republic of San Marino, Spain,Italy,France,Switzerland,Netherlands,Denmark,Portugal,Sweden
National Andorra, Portugal,Gibraltar Austria, Switzerland,Belgium, France,Luxembourg,Italy,Monaco,Netherlands,Germany
Enterprise Gibraltar,Portugal,Andorra Austria, Switzerland,Belgium,France,Luxembourg,Italy,Monaco,Netherlands, Germany

*Average fee: for your reference. Check the rental desk for the actual price.

Which car rental companies allow cross-border in Spain?

You are allowed to drive a rental car for free into Portugal if you pick up in Spain from these car rental companies: Alamo, Budget, National, Enterprise, SIXT, and Europcar. However, this company list only applies to the car categories that are allowed to cross the border. And it does not mean that all vehicles under the car rental companies and all border/country will be allowed to drive. To prevent any confusion, it is also recommended to read through the Terms and Conditions of the rental company for the detailed instructions during online booking or contact the counter directly.

Conditions of cross-border car rental

Different car rental companies have different policies and charging methods for border crossing in different countries. It can be seen that there are four main conditions:

1. Forbidden: that is, the car you rent can only drive in the region/country of pick up. This is usually due to war/political instability or foreign policy between the two countries.

2. Free: that is, your rental car can cross into a permitted country free of charge.

3. Conditional: that is, your rental car can cross into a permitted country, but you may need to buy additional insurance at the counter, for example, Europe has more luxury cars and more transit restrictions for fear of damage.

4. Charge: that is, your rental car can cross into a permitted country by paying a cross-border fee. However, because each car rental companies offer different services, they charge different prices. And the cross-border fee fluctuates according to the cross-border policies, local insurance companies and business strategies between the two countries, so it is often hard to get an accurate price.

A special cross-border condition: Inter-island border-crossing

This is common in New Zealand, Spain, and other island countries.

There are two types of inter-island rentals, one is that you don’t have to change your rented car, which means you drive the rented car on the ferry (NB: the ferry tickets generally need to be booked in advance on the ferry company website). 

Another type of inter-island rentals is that you need to change the car, which means to pick up the new car at the counter after arriving at the destination and continue driving with the vehicles in the same car categories/group (NB: some rental companies require that the rental period of each island/region should be more than 3 days. If your rented car is a wagon or commercial vehicle, the required rental period is longer).

Expert tips: If your car rental company shows that you cannot cross the island, you can place two orders, because there are local car rental companies that can provide vehicles.

There are two points to note when border-crossing:

i. Inform the car rental companies when placing the order and prepare the border-cross documents in advance (for example, provide the proof of insurance);

ii. Inform the car rental companies during the pick-up, otherwise, the insurance coverage may be invalid when entering the adjacent country or region.

How to pay the cross-border fee?

Generally, the online rental fee does not include the cross-border fee, so it needs to be collected at the counter according to the latest price. If you only drive to one country, there’s only one transit fee. However, if you plan to cross more than one county, depending on different vehicle policies, some car rental companies will only charge the most expensive transit fee, while others will add to it. We suggest you consult ahead of time and choose a car rental company that you can accept.

What if I accidentally cross the border?

If you decide to pick up and drop off your rented car in the same location and wish to embark on cross-border travel, you must obtain the rental desk’s consent when picking up your car. Otherwise, you risk violating their cross-border restrictions and may be charged $0.5/mile. If you accidentally cross the border, contact your car rental company to notify them but there is highly change that you need to pay for the penalties.

Tips on driving in Spain:

i. Look out for speed limit signs – it can be easy to forget them, especially when you are embarking on a cross-country journey. Besides, adjust your speed according to the weather and road conditions.

ii. When driving on an Autopista, cars may flash you to indicate that they are about to overtake you.

iii. When parking in smaller towns or villages, parking may be harder to find. It is advised that you find an area on the outskirts of the village.

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