Please sign in to post.

Items needed when renting a car in Germany-France


My girlfriend and I are traveling to Europe (car rental: Munich-Rothernburg-BadenBaden-Strasbourg-Fussen-Rosenheim; train: Rosenheim-Salzburg-Munich) for two weeks and are renting a car for the beginning part.

I called Avis and asked what items do we need (as I have presiouvly read some countries require vingettes, etc.).

They said nothing is required in Germany (we pick up from Avis at MUC Airport).

They did say we needed a breathalyzer since we're traveling to France, and if a police officer requests proof of it, and you don't have it, you can be fined.

What items are legally required in both of these countries when driving?

Thank you

Posted by
12040 posts

No vignettes required for driving in either Germany or France.

Germany requires the car to be equipped with warning triangles, an approved first aid kit and reflector vests, but if you rent the car in the country, these items will be included.

I don't know the specifics for France beyond valid registration.

BTW... in case this is not yet in your plan... rent the car as you leave Munich, not as you arrive. Driving and parking in most of Germany is fairly easy, including the cities, but Munich is the big exception.

Posted by
7988 posts

Check to see if an International Drivers' License is required. Easy to obtain at AAA offices. It is in addition to your regular driver's license, with translations on it.

Posted by
4 posts

We're picking up the car from the Munich airport when we arrive, and then traveling to Rothenburg.

Posted by
8504 posts

The breathalyzer in France is in limbo. See here:
We got one when the law came out but not subsequent years. If you do want one, you may be able to find it in a large French supermarket when you cross the border. The other items should all be in the trunk of the car when you rent it, as they are required in France, too. We just rented from Avis in Guadeloupe, a French department in the Caribbean, and the triangle, vest, etc. were in the trunk. No breathalyzer and we didn't buy one.

Posted by
31519 posts


For driving in France, each driver listed on the rental form will require either a notarized translation of the terms of their D.L. in French OR an International Driver's Permit which is used in conjunction with your home D.L. The IDP is easily available at any AAA / CAA office for a small fee (two Passport sized photos required, which can often be provided at the issuing office).

As I recall, you won't be able to drive all the way into Baden-Baden, but will have to use the car park outside the city. Only Taxis and service vehicles have the "clicker" to get past the Bollards.

You might want to have a look at the Car Rental guide on the website, as there's some good information there. If you have any questions, give them a call or send an E-mail. They're very knowledgeable on Germany especially, and I've always found them to be very helpful.

Posted by
2916 posts

As has been mentioned, you'll need an IDP, plus the safety items that should be in the trunk. The breathalyzer requirement in France has not been repealed, but the penalty has, so it's not something to worry about.

Posted by
4 posts

What about proof of insurance for renting the car? I used a CC to rent the car which provides rental insurance.

Posted by
8889 posts

The Vignette is a toll for using certain roads only (Autobahns/Autoroutes/Motorways) which you pay by the day instead of by the Km. Switzerland and Austria use this system (amongst other countries), Germany does not have tolls on the Autobahns. France uses normal distance-based tolls on Autoroutes, but the autoroutes in the Strasbourg area are toll-free, so you will not need to pay.

If your licence is not from an EU country, you will need an IDP or a certified translation of your licence for France. If stopped by the police you need to show both the IDP and your licence.

The requirement to have a breathalyser was never implemented.

Any legally necessary equipment (warning triangles etc.) will be supplied with the cra.

As for insurance, having your own insurance which covers rental cars is not normal in Europe. Third party insurance is a legal requirement and is included in the price. Cover for the car (if it gets damaged) is sold as an extra "CDW". You can refuse this, but it could be very expensive if you have an accident. They will want paying immediately. If you are using your own insurance, make sure you check you are covered for the countries you intend to visit, and have written proof of this.

Posted by
52 posts

I needed an International Drivers Permit (which I bought at AAA) to rent a car in France. BEWARE!! If you are returning the car in Germany, make SURE you take a photo of the return agent looking at the receipt for the gas you bought just before you returned the car. Also take photos of the gas gauge and mileage. Otherwise, you might find a huge charge on your receipt, which is printed in German. It's also a good idea to take photos of any damage of the car before you leave the rental lot where you obtained the car and make sure the damage you photographed is noted on the rental agent's form (which you also photograph). That way, you can prove to the return agent that the damage pre-existed your rental of the car. Little scuffs that car rental agencies in the US brush off are treated as a big deal at some European agencies.

Aside from those two pieces of advice - Have fun - driving on European roads adds a whole new dimension to your trip.

Posted by
21849 posts

I think you should be careful about relying on your cc for additional insurance coverage. There has been several situations reported here of problems with cc coverage - generally no coverage. So you need to be absolutely certain of the coverage provided, is acceptable to the rental company, how it is activated on your part, and all of the fine points of that policy. Blindly relying on your cc may not be the smartest move.

Posted by
3705 posts

Both Rick and Gemut strongly suggest using credit card insurance as being adequate for CDW. I think they would know if there were common issues/problems with doing so. It is difficult to evaluate individual claims about issues with credit card insurance posted online because we only get selected info. If you look online you will find postings of issues with CDW insurance coverage as well. You can print out the policy and carry it with you to show the agent, or have the card issue you a statement of coverage. In my limited experience refusing CDW is not an issue, they know Americans have credit card coverage. Whatever you do, don't forego the free credit card insurance to get plain (non-super) CDW with a very high deductible, there's never a justification for doing that.

This is pretty good but remember to read for the international info mixed in with the domestic rental info which doesn't apply. Also, the primary insurance crap does not apply for international rentals. It will take a few readings to get the big picture.

For me: Medical My home medical insurance covers my family
Personal Contents in Car My homeowner's insurance covers
Liability The car rental agency always covers this, it should not be listed as a separate charge, since required by French law
Theft, Collision, Vandalism This is covered by the credit card, read for exclusions for length of rental, car type, etc. Note that vandalism or damage to glass is sometimes excluded from CDW but is not excluded from my credit card insurance

I can't image any value in a photo of a car rental person looking at a piece of paper as recommended 2 posts up.

As to the IDP, do a France forum search for this, already covered in other posts. I would be interested to know what the "I needed an International Drivers rent a car in France" means, posted above. Required by whom? I'd be surprised if even 15% of American car renters in France bring one.

Posted by
100 posts

Two years ago I had a serious scrape on the side of my rental car in France. My Visa Signature card covered all the costs automatically.

I carry the IDL, but Hertz has never asked for it.

Posted by
11973 posts

Passport, drivers license, international drivers permit and credit card. At least in France, I can't recall if Germany wants an IDP now or not.

I generally expect required equipment to be on the car. I did buy a reflective vest along with a carnet once crossing into Austria from Germany, but that was on a lease.

Regarding your credit card insurance, it totally depends on which card you use and what they offer. I use an Amex card simply for their great CDW program. Whatever you use, read the insurance rules before you rent so you know what you need to do and by when. Many require a police report and/or timely call to the insurer to begin a claim.

Posted by
15039 posts

I drove in Italy and Spain and managed to find my way around, but in France (Burgundy and Alsace), without GPS, I would never have found anything once I left the main highway. I haven't driven in Germany.

Posted by
360 posts

We've rented cars in both France and Germany and did not need the IDL -- only some countries require it. Here's the page on the RS site where they list what countries are good to get them in (France & Germany are NOT included): We did have to get it for Italy and it's not too painful to get with AAA, though no one ever asked to see it, but you'll have it as a precaution if you really want it.

For insurance, our AMEX covered us, as long as we declined any insurance provided by the rental companies and used our AMEX, so you might want to check your credit cards on what they cover.

We did not need a breathalyzer in France -- this is the first I'm even hearing of it.

Posted by
31519 posts

"We've rented cars in both France and Germany and did not need the IDL"

There's no such thing as an "IDL". The document required is an International Driver's Permit and it must be used in conjunction with your home D.L.

Regardless of what it might say on the RS or other websites about "not needing" an I.D.P. in France, perhaps this information from the Embassy of France website will clear that up.....

"You may drive with a valid U.S. driver’s license if it is accompanied by a notarized translation in French. It is strongly recommended that you carry an International Driving Permit. You must be 18 years of age or older to drive in France."