You must be aware of requirements and/or restrictions for border crossings in a rental car.
In addition to having the permission of your rental car company to leave the country you rented in, you will be required to have all the normal identification required to rent the car (ie, drivers license and credit card), as well as being required to show a valid passport at the border.
*Note: Border Crossing Policies provided on car rental websites generally cover only US or Canadian residents.
Residents of other countries must contact their specific rental pickup location to get permission to take the rental car across the border.
*Note: Car rental companies can modify policy at any time; I make every attempt to maintain up-to-date info, but always check with an individual company to verify any policy. See: Disclaimer
Car Rental Border crossings, for the purpose of this guide, will look at two main scenarios:
Traveling from the U.S. into Mexico
If you’re a U.S resident, you may drive a car rental into Mexico with some rental companies. You may only drive a rental vehicle into Mexico if you purchase Mexican Automobile Liability Insurance at the U.S. rental location. This insurance is available only at specific locations in certain states. The three most common are Texas, Arizona and California. It is not available to purchase in Mexico.
Read about Company Specific Policies for Taking a Rental Car into Mexico
You must purchase this extra insurance regardless of any optional insurance coverages you may already have or already purchased from the car rental agency.
Read more about Rental Car Insurance
For all rental car companies that allow their vehicles to be taken in to Mexico, there will be guidelines and restrictions as to where you may drive the rental vehicle in that country. There are vehicle type/size restrictions also. Most car rental companies will not allow you to take a rental minivan, SUV or specialty vehicle into Mexico. These vehicles have a super high theft risk. Make sure to check with the location you rent from for details on restrictions for border crossings.
Traveling from US to Canada/Canada to US
If you’re a U.S resident, you most likely may drive the rental car into Canada. However, you must let the rental company know when you pick up your car that you plan to drive into Canada. The rental company may have to issue you a Canadian Non-Resident Insurance Card.
If you’re a Canadian resident
If you are a Canadian citizen, but a US resident (ie. have an US issued drivers license) then there will be no problem, as long as the car rental company allows their vehicles to travel into Canada.
Read about Company Policies for Taking a Rental Car from the US into Canada
Most Canadian car rental companies will allow Canadian and U.S. residents to take a Canadian registered rental car into the States, as long as the rental location allows it. Make sure to check with your rental location to see if there are any restrictions on where you can drive.
If you have a Canadian rental car with unlimited kilometres, that offer may only be valid if you drive the rental car within Canada only. Make sure before you go!
Note: As always, border crossing polices, as well as all rules and regulations at licensee locations may vary. Check with your rental location for details.