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Rental Car between Countries?

I haven't decided on whether to rent a car vs. training, but I'm curious, if I were to rent a car in Germany, can I take the rental car to Switzerland and/or Austria?

If so, has anyone tried to drop off the car in another country? Is it even possible, or expensive?

I'm trying to decide whether we will try to train in between:

Frankfurt - Romantic Road - Neuschwanstein - Innsbruck - Salzburg - Vienna

Posted by
32103 posts


All the locations you listed are well served by rail, so my preference would be train. That way there are no concerns about parking availability or costs, fuel costs, tolls, traffic fines or CDW charges. Travel by train will also be faster, so the time frame of your trip will have a bearing on the decision.

I find that travel by train works best with some degree of pre-planning. I always research which trains I'll be taking in terms of departure times, number of changes, length of trip and whether reservations are required. That way I have some choice to fit this with my schedule and preferences.

Fees to drop off a Car in a different country are usually on the "pricey" side, so that's one factor to consider. Also, I believe a "highway permit" or something is required in Switzerland and you'd have to make sure that was provided by the rental firm (not sure about the other countries).

Hopefully you'll get a few more reponses.


Posted by
119 posts

Brian, we picked up a car in
zurich and dropped it off in Munich . There was an additional $350 dollar drop off fee for that.

Posted by
2779 posts

One of the cheap tricks is to drop off the car at the train station in Freilassing, then take the shuttle train to Salzburg Hbf (2nd stop) and pick up your Austrian car there. Of course it would be even better to pick up cars at downtown stations rather then Hbf or airport ones...

Posted by
300 posts

In most cases there's no problem driving a rental from one country into another (going into Eastern Europe or Ireland are two exceptions I'm aware of) but as others have observed there is a significant drop chage if you rent in one country and drop off in another. You might want to weigh the cost of a drop-off against the possible lost convenicne of returning to the country of rental to drop off the car. Typically you can rent from one European city and drop off in another within the same country without a dropoff charge.

Posted by
35 posts

Thanks all - this really helps. After downloading the rail maps from this website, I think it sounds like the simplest plan for attack.

We will have ~12 days in Europe, so the trains will probably get us around the quickest and cheapest.

Posted by
35 posts

My biggest problem right now is that I'm flying standby on Continental on my wife's mom's airline benefits.

They fly to Paris, Milan, Zurich, Geneva, Berlin, Frankfurt, Amsterdam (those are the closest).

We will be there for 12 days excluding travel days, so I want to make sure we have the time to move around from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.

Our trip is a hard one to plan because we dont know what city we will end up in! :) Basically, we get to Newark, then pick the flight we have the best odds of getting on with some comfort. I think if I had to pick a starting city, I'd go for Frankfurt, so that we can do the Romantic Road down towards Austria.

It's a total adventure - unpredictable and interesting!

Posted by
307 posts

I have a car reserved in Innsbruck( airport) for mid September that I will be taking into Germany, but returning back to already mentioned, there is a costly drop off fee if you leave it in Germany or another country/location. I will be travelling in the same general area as you've outlined. I would also recommend shelling out the extra 10-20 Euros to reduce your "Excess" to zero, "Excess" being the deductible on your collision damage waiver or CDW( typically the deductible runs around 500-600 Euros)

Posted by
35 posts

Glenn or anyone else,

What happens when you hit the border of these countries in a rental car? Any difficulties? Just show the passports and zip by?


Posted by
5677 posts

They don't check anything. But some countries require special stickers. I got away with it when I took a German car into Austria, but I wouldn't count on that luck again! I can't remember what the sticker was for--some sort of tax I expect. Someone on the helpline will know! Pam

Posted by
2853 posts

Hi Brian,

You drive from one country to the next just like you drive from state to state here in the U.S. Driving from say Germany to Austria... if there wasn't a sign, you wouldn't even know you went from one to the other. No border crossing guards, etc. The exception, at least 3 years ago, was Switzerland. Just show your passport to the border guard.


Posted by
1631 posts

It's generally less expensive to reserve your car in the states. I rent from AutoEurope ( Maybe you can call them from the airport in the states before you leave for Europe. I enjoy the freedom of driving in Europe. Either way, have fun on your trip.

Posted by
307 posts

In Germany, you don't have to pay a toll to drive on the autobahn( it's built into their tax system or something so I'm told) whereas in Austria,there is a toll to drive the autobahn. It costs about 7-8 Euros I think and is how Austria is paying for its highway system( I can't remember the exact cost as the fee is built into my rental price but I know it's not expensive). Other than that I'm not aware of any other problems with going back and forth between Germany and Austria...

Posted by
1357 posts

We fly standby when we fly, too, so we never know quite when we will get to our destination. With most rental car companies, you need to give them 24 hours notice if you're going to cancel your reservation, but you can usually change it to another city if you need to without much of a charge. Check with the rental companies on their policies.

If you take the train, though, you can buy the tickets when you get there and not worry about where you are or when you got there.

Flying standby is a whole different culture of travel. It's cheap, it's exciting, but it brings a whole lot of different variables into the picture! Good luck, hope you make your flight!

Posted by
12154 posts

For your trip you could train the entire thing. For two that may be the simplest if you are light packers.

Another option is to rent a car for the Romantic Road/Neuschwanstein part of your trip. You can cross borders with a rental as long as you let the company know your plans. You can drop off in other countries but not sure it's worth the fee in your case. Austria requires a sticker and safety vest that can be picked up at the truck stops at border crossings on the autobahn.

Are you skipping Munich? I would rather skip Innsbruck, head to Munich instead and then Salzburg and Vienna.