Rental Car Reviews

Taking a Rental Car to Canada? 3 Things You Should Know

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When we decided to take a road trip up to Niagara Falls this past weekend we decided to save some wear and tear on our personal vehicles and rent a car. Taking a rental car across the Canadian border requires some research, but we’d done our due diligence and come up with the first two requirements.

Unfortunately our experience trying to rent with Avis taught us there was a third thing we should have done.

1. Let the Rental Car Company Know in Advance

You need to let the rental company know you plan to drive the car in Canada. Most, if not all, of the major rental car companies will have no problem with this.

2. Ask About Proof of Insurance

Canada will require a non-resident proof of insurance card. All rental car companies supposedly have them for free, but might require advance notice to provide it. If you take a rental car into Canada and get into an accident or can’t produce one when asked you risk fines.

3. Call the Local Rental Location Directly

This is where our trip went wrong with Avis. My friends had called Avis corporate a few weeks ahead of time to get details on what we needed to do. They assured us every location would have the necessary proof of insurance and we didn’t need to do anything else.

We showed up at a non-airport DC location ready to start the road trip adventure. But turns out that location didn’t have proof of insurance documents. They called around and another location 30 minutes out of our way did. But they didn’t offer to have someone bring them (and it would have added even more time to our trip if we went) and they couldn’t fax them because the fax machine was broken. And based on info I found on some websites, Canada won’t even accept faxed or emailed proof of insurance cards.

Avis wasn’t willing to do anything else to help us in the moment (or even later), despite preferred status and an expensive reservation. So we faced the decision of risking fines in Canada or scrapping the rental car idea, which is what we ultimately decided to do.

Had we known in advance that simply calling the rental location could have avoided this problem, the whole thing would have been easy and painless.

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