How to rent a car in Ireland

Summer in Ireland is something that everyone is excited about. Escaping the cold and unpredictable climate to go for a nice beach ride with family and friends is anticipated year-long. For most of us, buying a car is not a piece of cake. You can always think of how to rent a car in Ireland. Not just cars, bigger vehicles, such as caravans, can also be hired here.

How to rent a car in Ireland ?

Who is eligible?

The minimum age for driving a car in Ireland is 17. But most of the rental companies are strict about the age limit of the customer, which is generally restricted to the age group 25-70. You need to have valid proof of identity and a driving license. The prices vary according to the rental agencies, and also depend on the rented vehicle and age of the driver. There can also be an additional charge for people under 25. Check 3 Great Irish road trips for this summer.

Documents required:

  • A valid driving license (not necessarily an International Driving Permit).
  • Proof of identity (preferably your passport).
  • Credit card. There are some car rentals that accept debit cards, too. Always ask them beforehand.
  • Insurance for the driver. This is applicable to all your friends who might be driving the car. It is not advised to accept an agreement for a lesser price where you might have to waiver a particular insurance cover (eg: collision damage). It is not worth it.

Check these while getting the car:

  • Read the company reviews and select one which has the best reviews when searching for how to rent a car in Ireland. I would recommend selecting an Irish company since their rates and coverage are usually better. 
  • Check whether the car is manual or automatic. Manual cars are the most common and cheaper than automatic ones.
  • Be aware that not all credit cards are accepted. Check with the rental companies before proceeding.
  • If you are using a debit card (check with the can rental agency if they accept debit cards), it should be either a Visa or a Master card which is linked to your bank account.
  • Read your contract papers thoroughly and understand what you are signing up for. Some agencies may require you to return the car with a full tank of fuel. 
  • Many of the agencies do not provide pin-to-pin details about the cost structure at the time of booking, but they shouldn’t miss that in the agreement.
  • Take note of all damages (including small scratches) and mention them to the agency. If possible, get a written document indicating any damages.
  • Check the tires and tools (at least a jack, a wrench, and necessary safety equipment needed for your travel).
  • Enquire about the fuel required for running the car. You don’t want to get confused about whether you need petrol or diesel after reaching the gas station.
  • Ensure that the windscreen and lights are working properly, including indicator, brake, and fog lights.
  • If you are planning to take the car across borders, please check with the rental company about the rules and regulations.
  • Check out the policy regarding the toll charges.
  • If you are not happy with the car, ask the agency for other options.
  • Be clear with all the points and discuss with the agency. You really don’t want to get in trouble, do you? 
  • Returning rules should also be specified in the rental agreement.
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Remember to get these along with your rented car: 

  • Signed rental contract. Even if you pre-book the car, the rental agreement is effective only after both parties sign.
  • Valid vehicle insurance which is included in the rental price.

Extra charges when you rent a car:

Be prepared for the extra charges that the rental companies might falsely charge you. These may include:

  • Credit card fees, which is usually 5 euros.
  • An administration fee, which may be charged if you have your own CDW insurance.
  • Some agencies give you an option to return the car with or without a full tank of fuel. It is advised to go for the former option because they might charge you extra for the empty tank. 

Points to remember about insurance:

  • Third-Party Liability Insurance. This is a legal requirement in Ireland. It is generally included in the pre-paid prices of all the valid car rentals in Ireland. 
  • CDW coverage in Insurance: Collision Damage Waiver is a mandatory insurance in Ireland. This insurance provides a reduction of a certain amount that you might have to pay in case of damages. You will only have to pay the amount that exceeds the insurance coverage. This amount will vary according to the size of the car.
  • Some additional waivers may be provided by the agencies. Be specific about what you might need and choose wisely.
  • Remember that theft and personal liability insurance are generally not included in any Irish car rental coverages.
  • For more details on insurance types, click here.

How to rent a car in Ireland


  • Ireland follows left-hand driving. So, if you are not used to it, you better practice beforehand. 
  • Always follow the traffic and road safety rules of the country you are travelling to. Be careful, most of the roads in the county parts of Ireland are narrow. Also, you cannot park your car wherever you can. There are parking rules to be followed. Check out the driving offences in Ireland.
  • Do not forget to carry some cash, in the form of coins, for the tolls. Each toll can cost around 3 euros for each passenger. Not all the tolls will accept debit/credit cards. Dublin Tunnel may cost more depending on your time of travel. 
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Did you damage your rental car?

  • Do not get the car repaired unless it is suggested by the agency.
  • Contact the European Emergency Phone Number, 112 or 999 (similar to 911 in the US).
  • Contact the Gardei (police) in case of an accident. Let them know the names and addresses of everyone involved. 
  • The rental company might charge you an additional amount for repair, towing, reduced value of the car, etc.

When returning the car:

  • Try to return during the working hours (not a rule though).
  • Always ask the rental company to check the car for damages in your presence. This will ensure that they don’t overcharge you for something you did not do.
  • If the above is not being done, the agency is entitled to provide a detailed description of the additional amount charged for you.

In case of disputes:

You should be prepared to face disputes when you are thinking of how to rent a car in Ireland. There are cases where the rental agencies charge the customer an unexpected extra amount. Make sure that they give the “extra” expenses in writing and how much they are charging for each damage. This should be in the form of a repair certificate or an invoice. If you are unsatisfied, the following options can be followed:

  • Contact your credit card provider and check the possibility of a cashback.
  • You can file a complaint here, if the agency is a member of the European Car Rental Conciliation Service.
  • Legal actions can be taken through European Small Claim Procedure. Cross- border claims can be processed through this.
  • Also check this article out for more information.

Know more about how to get an Irish driving license

Also check the rules of the road.


Some car rental agencies:

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About the author

Unnimaya Chakrapani

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