Holiday car rental

Cross border travel in a Lisbon hire car

Portugal car hire – cross border travel in a rental car

With the open borders within the European Union and well developed road networks, travelling between different countries, either on holiday or on a business trip is becoming more and more popular, either in a private or a hire car.

Although there is no border control any more within the Schengen zone, and driving from , for example Amsterdam to Paris, is a question of a 5 hours of uninterrupted journey through three countries,  as a car hire customer you should be aware that there are many restrictions to where you can take your rental vehicle. Find out, below, what to look out for when planning to drive a Portugal hire car abroad.

New Citroen C1 in the fleet of Enterprise Rent A Car / Guerin Car Hire Portugal. © Photo:

Driving to Spain in a Lisbon Airport hire car – check rental conditions
When looking at car hire deals on Cartrawler search engine at, you will find the information regarding cross-border travels in the relevant section of the “Rental conditions” of each offer.

Since Portugal has only one land neighbour, Spain, a large part of both Portuguese and Spanish car rental companies allow travelling between the two countries. That is dictated by the demand; many leisure travellers to either Spain or Portugal, especially if coming from far away, take the opportunity to get to know the Iberian Peninsula a bit better and drive between, for example, the Portuguese Algarve and the Spanish Andalusia, or between the capitals, Lisbon and Madrid.

One should not assume, however, that it is always going to be possible to drive to Spain in a hire car from Portugal. A random search for a Lisbon Airport car hire deals in summer 2015 showed that rental conditions regarding cross-border travels varied considerably between different suppliers.

Several of the RAC companies at Lisbon Airport, for example Goldcar, Drive on Holidays or Drive4Less allowed travelling to Spain. Please note, that cross-border travels always mean additional costs for the car rental companies which have to extend their insurance coverage for more than one country.

From the car hire customer’s point of view, this means in most cases extra charges. Of all the offers quoted in our search, only one supplier, Drive on Holidays, stated the actual cost of cross-border travel (in this particular case EUR 30+VAT, for the whole 7 day rental period).

Most offers, however, are usually rather vague in describing cross border travel conditions, stating only that “extra charges and restrictions may apply”.

The fees for cross border travels are not included in the basic rate and payable at the counter, where the customer is provided the detailed information about the conditions and surcharges.  This may make the financial planning of your self-driven holiday a bit difficult. If the intention is to drive to many countries in your Portugal hire car, always confirm that all of those countries are listed as permitted destinations and, if necessary, obtain information about the any possible extra charges directly from the rent a car company.

When cross border travel is not allowed
It is not unusual that rental conditions do not allow traveling abroad in a hire car. In such an instance it is highly recommendable to follow strictly the car hire company’s policies. Although in theory only the driver knows where he has travelled to in the hire car (since there is no border control within the Schengen zone), in case of accident or theft, the insurance company may and will refuse to cover any damages which occurred in a country different than listed as permitted for cross border travel. It is definitely a risk not worth taking.

To sum up:

  • It is always necessary for the customer to inform the car rental company, at the pick-up, about the intentions of travelling abroad.
  • Travelling in a hire car to a country not listed as an allowed destination in rental conditions and without the consent of the supplier will be considered a breach of the rental contract and may result in the insurance being voided.
  • Checking the rental conditions for cross border travel before booking will allow to choose the offer which suits bests the traveller’s needs.

Lisbon can hire – compare rates and rental conditions

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