Category Archives: Van hire faq

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Beginner’s guide to van hire: the round-up

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

We’ve recently been running a beginner’s guide to van hire here at For many of you, we know that it’s your first time renting a van.

So we’ve tried to put together a series of short articles covering all the questions you might have.

In order to make sure these new articles easier to find, I’ve put together this round-up post with links to all the beginner’s articles we’ve published.

Of course, if you still have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch:

Ferry sailing away

Beginner’s guide to van hire: Driving abroad & one-way hire

Ferry sailing away

Taking hire vans on ferries to Europe is perfectly possible, but needs advance planning and permission from your hire company.

Can you take rental vans abroad from the UK?

In many cases the answer is yes, and on our European Hire page we list companies which provide this service.

However, in all cases you must have the right paperwork and get permission from your hire company in advance.

This really is important. Failure to follow the rules could see you fined or result in your vehicle being confiscated while abroad. If you haven’t followed the right procedures, you could also end up driving without valid insurance — another offence.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Before you book your hire van, check if the hire company you plan to use allows overseas usage. Specify which countries you will be visiting and what type of van you want to hire, as these factors may affect whether an overseas hire is possible.
  2. When you make the booking, make sure that you make it clear you need to take the van abroad.
  3. Ask about extra costs, insurance, breakdown cover and paperwork.
  4. The most important piece of paperwork is a VE103 document. This shows that you have the owner’s permission to take the vehicle out of its home country.
  5. Make sure you know the total height and length of the van before you book your ferry/Channel Tunnel crossing. Depending on the size of your van and the purpose of your trip, you may need to book as a commercial passenger, not a private/leisure customer.
  6. Finally, make sure you have all the accessories you may need for driving in other countries, such as spare bulbs and reflective vests. Check out the driving rules and speed limits for the countries you’ll be visiting. In my opinion, the best source for this information is The AA’s Driving in Europe guide.

Once all that is done, plan your route and look forward to driving on roads that are often more scenic and less busy than those in the UK.

One-way van hire abroad

People often ask if they hire a van one way to go abroad. In general, this is only possible between the UK and Spain.

The reason for this is that in general, hire vehicles need to be hired out in their country of registration. Returning a hire van in — say — Germany would probably mean that the hire company would have to pay to return the vehicle to the UK. That’s a lot of money lost as a result of transport costs and several days’ of lost hire revenue.

Spain is an exception to this rule, simply because so many British expats live in the popular coastal areas of Spain. There is regular demand for hire vans to transport possessions between areas such as Alicante and Malaga and the UK.

On our Van Hire to Spain page, we list several specialist companies which offer this service from depots in Spain and the UK. If you need to move stuff between Spain and the UK, then take a look.

Note: This isn’t a service that’s offered by regular hire companies. If you need to move to or from Spain and want a one-way hire, you’ll probably need to use one of these specialist hire companies.

Sat nav screen while driving

Beginner’s guide to van hire: Additional drivers & optional extras


What extras are available when you hire a van?

Do you have to pay extra for an additional driver?

These are questions we commonly here from first-time van hire customers. The answers are simple and usually the same as they would be for car hire.

Additional drivers

Van hire companies will normally allow you to add an additional driver to your rental agreement.

In general, this will cost extra. You will usually have to pay an extra fee for each day.

Some companies allow you to specify an additional driver when you make a booking online. Otherwise you can add an additional driver when you collect the vehicle.

Optional extras – e.g. sat nav

Sat nav screen while driving

A sat nav can be very useful if driving alone to an unfamiliar destination — especially if you’re driving a large van.

As with car hire, most van hire companies offer a range of optional extras. How much choice you have may depend on what type of company you are hiring from.

Large national companies which also offer car hire are more likely to have child seats, for example.

On the other hand, specialist van rental businesses may be more likely to offer useful extras such as trolleys, loading straps and protective blankets for furniture.

GPS sat nav units are often available to hire, usually for an extra cost per day. Other optional extras include additional insurance and breakdown cover, or upfront payment for a tank of fuel.

I hope this helps to answer some of your questions about van hire. If you’ve still got questions, check you can see all of our Beginner’s Guide to Van Hire series by clicking here.

Still got questions? Email us or get in touch on Twitter @vanrentaluk

RAC Truck Rescue Patrol

Beginner’s guide to van hire: insurance, accidents & breakdown


In today’s beginner’s guide article, I’m going to look at van hire insurance and breakdown cover, plus what to do if you damage your van or are involved in a collision.

  • Insurance
  • What to do if you have a collision or damage the van
  • Breakdown cover


If you’re a private customer hiring a van in the UK, the insurance situation will usually be the same as it would be for a hire car.

Insurance is generally included so that you’re legal to drive the van on public roads. However, this cover usually includes an excess amount you’ll have to pay to cover any damage before the company will claim on their insurance.

The excess on a rental van can be quite high — usually hundreds of pounds.

If you want to reduce this excess to zero, then you will normally have to take out additional insurance. Hire companies will normally offer to sell this extra insurance to you when you collect the car. It will often be described as Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or something similar.

Unfortunately there isn’t a standard name for this product, so if in doubt ask the rental operative to describe exactly what insurance choices are available and what benefit they provide.

CDW or similar is normally charged per day. It can be quite expensive, especially for longer hire periods. One alternative approach to get the same cover (or better) is to take out your own van hire excess insurance from an independent company. This is perfectly acceptable. How it works is that if you damage the vehicle, you can claim back any costs you face from the insurance firm.

We have more information about van hire excess insurance here.

What should I do if I have a collision or damage the van?

Damage only, no other vehicles involved: If you damage the van without anyone else being involved, then the correct procedure is normally to phone the emergency assistance number provided by the hire company. You may also need to fill out an accident report form, if provided.

If the vehicle can be safely driven without damaging it further, you’re free to carry on. The hire company will assess the cost of damage to the vehicle when you return it and charge you accordingly.

To get an idea of how damage might be costed, it’s worth having a look at this Damage Price Guide on the Europcar website.

I’ve been in a collision: If other vehicles/people are involved, then I would phone the emergency assistance number provided by your hire company immediately if possible.

Try to get all of these details from the other party:

  • Driver’s name & contact telephone number
  • The names and contact details of any passengers/witnesses
  • The registration of the other vehicle and a description (e.g. black Ford Mondeo). This helps to defend against fraudulent claims.
  • Write down a clear description of what happened, including time, date and location. Include as much detail as possible. This helps to defend your claim if the other party disputes it.
  • Provide the other party with a contact telephone number for your hire company.
  • …and again, call your hire company as soon as possible.


In the UK, most hire vans are provided with full breakdown cover. However, it’s always worth checking this when you collect your van, just for peace of mind.

If you do break down and need assistance, then ring the number provided with your van — it will usually be on your paper work or on a sticker inside the windscreen.

Fifty pound note

Beginner’s guide to van hire: how to pay + credit cards

Fifty pound note

Hiring a van for the first time can be daunting. Even the payment process has its own rituals which can be confusing.

Disclaimer: What I’m about to say is generally true at most hire companies, but there are exceptions. As always, please check directly with your hire company if you’re unsure. The author and will take no responsibility for any errors or omissions.

The hirer must pay: The main requirement that applies to virtually all personal rentals is that the payment card used must be in the name of the hirer.

Can I pay by cash or cheque? Sometimes. But many companies will refuse these payment methods. Check directly when booking.

Debit card or credit card? Credit cards are always accepted and are usually the preferred method of payment. But some companies will accept payment by debit card.

Payment requirements can vary depending on whether you pay in full when you book (usually cheaper) or choose to pay after the rental is completed (you get to keep your money for longer).

For post-pay rentals especially, many companies require you to provide a credit card on which they can ‘reserve’ a deposit. This payment will be held on your card during the rental and then released when you return the vehicle undamaged. If you don’t have a credit card, then check carefully before booking.

ID/licence requirements: You will always need to provide your driving licence when renting a car or van. You will often also need to provide ID. When renting at home (e.g. in the UK), a recent utility bill, bank statement or council tax bill showing your name and address is generally best.

Requirements for overseas renters can be different — you’ll probably need a passport/national ID card and perhaps proof of your home address/return flight tickets or similar.

Back to uni in a van

Beginner’s guide to van hire: Speed limits, fuel and mileage


Today I’m going to answer some of the most common questions we get about hiring a van.

  • Do I need to drive differently to in a car?
  • What are the speed limits for vans?
  • Is there a limit on how many miles I can do?
  • Do I need to return the van with a full fuel tank?

Driving a van

Moving house with a vanIf it’s your first time, check out our guide to driving a van.

Actually operating the van is easy — the steering wheel and gears and other controls are just the same as those of a car.

What’s different is the size and weight of the vehicle, especially when it’s loaded. As a general rule, you should brake and corner much more gently than with a car. Remember that the van may be much wider than a car.

If the back of your van contains the contents of your flat, then chucking it around like Lewis Hamilton is likely to damage your stuff.

Another problem is height. Medium or large vans are usually too tall to fit under car park height barriers. Don’t be the person who gets this wrong, as your insurance probably won’t cover damage to the roof.

The other big thing to remember is that there’s no rear view mirror. You need to make sure your van’s wing mirrors are adjusted so you can clearly down each side of the van. Use these a lot!

Speed limits

Van speed limits are different to those for cars! 

Speed limit signThese speed limits apply to virtually all vans, including small models like the Ford Transit Connect and Citroen Berlingo. I’ve highlighted where the speed limits are different to those for cars:

  • Motorways: 70mph
  • –> Dual carriageways: 60mph
  • –> Single carriageways: 50mph
  • Built-up areas: 30mph

Mileage limits

Many hire companies rent their vans with no mileage limits. You can do as many miles as you want.

But some companies do have limits, and ignoring them can be costly. One common approach is a maximum number of miles per day, after which you will be charged an additional rate per mile. This can be costly, so check before you book.

Fuel policy

Fuel gauge nearing emptyFuel policy varies between companies, but the usual setup is that the vehicle will come with a full tank of fuel, and you have to return it with a full tank of fuel.

If the tank isn’t full when you return the van, you’ll be charged a refuelling charge per litre that’s more than the local pump price.

Some of the big companies will allow you to pre-purchase a tank of fuel when you pickup the vehicle, so you don’t need to refill it when you return the vehicle. If you do this, make sure you will use enough fuel to make it worth the extra cost.

Finally, most hire vans are diesel. But there are a few small vans with petrol engines, so if you’re not sure, check. There’s usually a label on the filler cap reminding you of the right fuel to use.

If you do put the wrong fuel in, don’t start the engine or even put the key in the ignition. Ring for the assistance number provided by the hire company immediately.

Volkswagen Crafter Luton

Beginner’s guide to van hire: what type of van do I need?


You’re probably familiar with different types of car, like estate, hatchback and SUV. But you may not be quite so confident when it comes to vans.

The good news is that for most people, there are only really a few types of van you need to know about. The bad news is that similar vans can sometimes be referred to in different ways.

To help you work out what you need when you next hire a van, here’s our beginner’s guide to the different types of van + how much stuff you can fit into each one. You can find more information about vans in our Van Size Guide.

Please remember all sizes and weights given are approximate. If you are unsure about what size you need, check directly with your van hire company. will not accept any responsibility if you hire a van that is too small or too large for your needs.

Small vans

2016 Citroen BerlingoSmall vans such as the Citroen Berlingo usually have a load space about 1.7m long and 1.5m wide. Load height is usually limited to about 1.2m.

Most models can fit two Euro pallets. They’re a good size for tradesmen needing to carry tools and for local deliveries. The maximum load weight (payload) is usually 600-800kg.

These vans often only have one proper passenger seat, although many now have a fold-down middle seat allowing space for two passengers. This can get a bit cramped on long journeys.

Medium vans (a.k.a. ‘Transit’ vans)

Ford Transit Custom Colour EditionThe term Transit van is often used to describe any medium-sized panel van, not just those made by Ford. These vans are the workhorses of the UK economy, chosen by tradesmen, couriers and delivery firms. They do come in different sizes, though.

Unless you book a long wheelbase model (see below) it’s safest to assume that you will get a short wheelbase van, similar to what’s pictured. In this case, expect a maximum load length of about 2.4m, a width of about 1.7m and a height of 1.4m (low roof) or more if it has a high roof.

Maximum load weight is usually 900-1200kg, depending on the model.

This may be large enough to move a studio flat, if you don’t have much in the way of furniture or kitchen appliances. If you have a lot of stuff, then you’ll probably want to move up to a long wheelbase model.

Remember to ask your hire company if you need exact payload (weight) or size information. All vans vary and you are unlikely to know exactly what you’re getting when you book.

Long wheelbase vans

Nissan NV400 XLWB RWD model

An extra-long wheelbase Nissan NV400 van.

The small and medium vans I’ve pictured above aren’t much bigger than large cars. But this isn’t always big enough. If you need more space then one way to go is to get a long wheelbase van. These actually come in two sizes — long or extra long. You may be able to choose when you book, but you may not. If you need something specific, then ring the hire company and ask.

Long wheelbase vans usually have a load length about 3.5m. Extra-long wheelbase vans will add to this and offer 4m or even more. Width is unchanged at about 1.7m, but you’re almost certain to get a high roof, giving load height in the region of 1.6m-2.0m

These may be big enough for a 1/2-bed flat move, as long as your furniture isn’t too bulky or can be flat packed, and you don’t have many large appliances which can’t be stacked (e.g. washing machine, cooker, freezer, etc).

These models are quite big vans and need a big of extra care when driving, especially when reversing or manoeuvring in tight spaces. But they’re easy enough to drive and very useful, so don’t let their size put you off.

Luton vans

Volkswagen Crafter LutonThere’s a good reason most small house removal companies use luton vans for the majority of their jobs. If you’re moving a 1/2 bed property or even (maybe) a 3-bed house then these are the best thing for the job.

Also known as box vans, lutons are not quite as long as a long wheelbase panel van, but are wider and higher. They also have a completely square load space, with no wheel arches, as the box sits on top of the chassis, above the wheels. Sizes can vary, but a typical set of dimensions might be 4m long, 2m wide and 2.2m high.

Because the box sits above the wheels, the load deck is quite high off the ground. To make it easier to lift heavy objects in and out, many luton hire vans have a tail lift, which allows you to raise and lower objects from the ground to the back of the ground. However, not all luton vans have tail lifts. If this is a necessity, make sure you ask before booking.

Automatic vans

If you only have an automatic car licence, can hire an automatic van?

The short answer: No. Automatic vans are not generally available for hire. Unless the hire companies specifically states that they offer automatic vans, you should assume the van will be manual.

If your driving licence only allows you to drive automatics, then you’ll have to find another driver.

You may need to know: Although most manufacturers do make automatic vans, they usually cost extra and very few hire companies buy them. I expect this will gradually change, but not overnight.


Beginner’s guide to van hire: driving licence and age limits


Welcome to the first in a series of posts covering everything you need to know about van hire.

Two of the most common questions we get asked by first-time van hire customers are about driving licences and age restrictions.

Here’s what you need to know.

Driving licence requirements

The short version: If you have a full UK car licence, you can drive virtually all rental vans.

When renting a van, you will also need to provide a driving licence check code – available from (you’ll need your National Insurance number and driving licence).

You may need to know: Your UK car driving licence covers you to drive goods vehicles (like vans) with a maximum loaded weight of up to 3.5 tonnes. Virtually all rental vans in the UK fall into this category.

The only possible problem is if your car licence is for automatics only. Almost all hire vans are manual, so you won’t be able to drive one.

Point on your licence? Most companies allow you to have some points for speeding, but there are usually some limits. Endorsements for more serious offences (e.g. CD, DD, DR or DG) are likely to bar you from hiring. The rules vary between companies, so if you are unsure, ask before you hire.

Age restrictions

The short version: If you are aged between 25 and 75, you shouldn’t have any problems. If you’re aged between 21 and 25, some companies will let you hire a van, but you’ll usually have to pay extra.

You may need to know: Age limits are not set in law, they are chosen by hire companies. Most of the big companies have slightly different rules to each other.

In general, drivers aged 21-25 will need to pay a young driver surcharge. In some cases, companies won’t accept drivers below a certain age at all. Younger drivers may also only be allowed to hire smaller sizes of van.

The rules are even more arbitrary for older drivers. Some companies do not specify any restriction. Others have an upper age limit. This is often 75.

If in doubt, check directly with the hire company you want to use before booking.

Still got questions?

We have more information about age limits for specific companies here.

We also have a lot more information on our van hire FAQ page.

If you’re still stuck, drop us an email or get in touch on Twitter @vanrentaluk