The vast majority of Americans have a driver's license, with over 95 percent of households owning at least one car. Still, not everyone has passed the driving test to get a valid license. And even still, others may have had a license in the past but let it expire or got it revoked due to a DUI or other incident.
Or, perhaps you have a valid license but misplaced it, had it stolen, or accidentally left it at home when you went on vacation.
If you find yourself in one of these situations, you may wonder if you can get a car rental without a driver's license. Most rental requirements clearly state you need one that is valid for the entire rental period, but there may be a few exceptions.
In this article, we'll review everything you need to know about renting a car without a driver's license.
Can I Rent a Car Without a Driver’s License?
The answer is almost always no. If you don't have a driver's license, there is no physical proof that you are qualified to drive motor vehicles. As a result, most rental companies would quickly turn you away if you showed up asking to rent a car at one of their offices.
In fact, a valid driver’s license is the most important document you’ll need to rent a car. While you can get by without a credit card or additional forms of identification, you almost always need a driver’s license.
Keep in mind that rental companies will also refuse to rent you a car if you have a DUI on your driving record, are under the state’s rental car driving age, or only possess a learner’s permit.
Still, the answer to this question isn't as clear-cut as you may expect. There are a few instances in which a car rental company will allow customers to rent a car, even if they don't have a driver's license.
For example, renters with disabilities that do not permit them to have a valid driver's license may rent a car. However, they must be accompanied by a surrogate driver with a valid license at the time of pick up. Most rental agencies won't add a surcharge for the additional driver or require them to fulfill financial requirements, such as possessing a credit card. This exception allows people with certain disabilities to rent vehicles as needed.
Rental companies may also make exceptions for individuals who have a valid driver's license but left it at home, lost it during airport security checks, or had it stolen. However, they won't take your word for it. You'll have to prove that you actually have a driver's license and confirm your identification.
Next Steps to Rent a Car
As mentioned, it may be possible to rent a car without your driver’s license, but only in specific situations.
So, how do you go about renting a car without your driver's license? Let's look at some steps you can take before heading to the car rental agency. Completing them doesn't guarantee you’ll get an agency to give you the keys to a rental, but it will increase your chances.
Visit the DMV
Going to the DMV is the most reasonable step you can take if you need to replace your driver’s license for whatever reason. Even if they can’t replace your license immediately, they will likely give you a temporary license to use as proof in the meantime. Plus, they might be able to expedite your new license, which would solve your problem altogether.
Rental agencies may be willing to honor your temporary driver’s license on paper or a document from the DMV showing that you are in the process of getting a replacement. If you aren’t sure, you can contact the rental company by phone to ensure that this type of evidence is sufficient proof of your ability to drive.
However, this may be more of an issue if the rental location is out of state or you are trying to replace an international driver’s permit.
Thankfully, if you are from another country, you may be able to use your driver's license from your home country to rent a vehicle, especially if you have proof that you obtained an international driving permit.
Provide Additional Identification
If you can prove you have lost your driver's license and the rental company is willing to make an exception in light of your circumstances, you'll need another form of ID. Preferably, it should be a photo ID, such as a:
If you don't have any of these on hand, you may be able to get by with a scanned copy of one. For example, if you have a photo of your driver's license or passport on your Google Drive or phone’s photo roll, you can show it to the representative at the rental counter. They may even be willing to accept a printed photo of your driver’s license when you don’t have a physical copy of it with you.
If you don't have essential documents backed up on your cloud storage or phone, go ahead and do so as soon as possible. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation in the future, you’ll be glad you had copies of your driver’s license, passport, or other documents.
Of course, that won’t get you out of the current predicament you’re in, so let’s explore one more option!
File a Police Report
If you can't get a temporary license, there's still another way to salvage your trip. Most car rental companies are able to override the company’s policy on driver’s license requirements if you have a police report. This report needs to state the issue you had with your driving license, such as how you lost it or where it was stolen.
So, head to the nearest police station and make an official report. Tell the police what happened, why you need the report, and the desperate situation you’re in. It may take some time to finish the report, which can be frustrating while on vacation, but it will help you continue with your plans and make the most of your trip.
Most likely, having a police report will help you get a replacement faster anyway.
Hit the Road in an AVR Rental
So, can you rent a car without a driver's license? In all honesty, it depends on your situation. Each case is different, and the manager at the car rental counter can also make a huge difference in whether you are able to rent a car or not. So be polite and explain the situation clearly, and hopefully, you'll be on your way in no time!
At AVR rental, we do our best to accommodate your circumstances and set you up with the right rental vehicle. Check out our rental passenger vans and consider using one on your next trip!