Car hire companies in Ireland are generally based in airports, ferry ports or, in some instances, train and bus terminals. In many cases, the car hire company will have a base in the city centre. For terms and conditions on age and license requirements, it’s advisable to check with the rental company in advance of booking. This information is generally included in the company's Terms and Conditions on their respective websites. Where at all possible, try and book in advance to avail of better offers or deals and to ensure availability during high season.
In Ireland, the majority of rental cars will be standard shift (not automatic). There are automatic cars available, however. Should you require one, it’s advised to book well in advance of travel to avoid disappointment.
Should you be travelling with a child or children in need of a child seat, inform the rental company in advance.
Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)
Car hire insurance offered by a rental car company normally includes cover for theft and collision damage waiver (CDW). Even when CDW is in place rentals are subject to a non-waivable excess, known as the excess or deductible. Many car renters are surprised to find that their CDW does not cover the excess.
While rental car companies offer additional insurance against the entire excess fee, it is often cheaper to buy insurance to cover the CDW excess fee in your home country before renting a car. In some cases, credit card providers offer insurance to cover the CDW excess at no extra cost.
For example, if your excess is €500 and someone drives into your rental car causing damage worth €2,000, you will have to pay €500 with CDW insurance covering the remaining amount. With CDW excess insurance you are covered for the full €2,000 of damage.
The Car Rental Council of Ireland, features extensive information on car rental on the island of Ireland.
While certain restrictions will vary from rental company to rental company, it is most definitely the case that visitors wishing to drive a car in Ireland will require either a full valid national driving license or an international driving permit issued abroad. Either of the above can be obtained from the country of origin.
Renting a motorcycle
Motorcycle enthusiast, Paul Rawlins of Celtic Rider says it all when he talks about taking to the roads by motorbike in Ireland: “If you enjoy good clean air, good roads with little traffic, spectacular scenery, a soft drop of rain, great people, fine food, music, and craic [fun] then motorcycling in Ireland is for you."
Age restrictions for motorcycle rental on the island of Ireland vary, but are generally around the 23-25 year-old region. You will need a driver’s license (for most rental companies you will need to have passed the specific motorcycle driving test) and current passport in order to rent a bike. Should you be interested in renting a bike with side car, be sure to contact the rental company in advance to ensure the vehicle is available before travelling.
Campervan rental on the island of Ireland
Travelling Ireland by camper van marries two great loves of any traveller – good value and freedom. Also, if you think that a camper van will restrict you to the mainland and not leave you free to visit the islands, then think again: Melindam from the US decided “on a whim…to see if the island ferry (to Aranmore Island off the Donegal coast) could handle the camper van – and it could. The ferry skippers are master packers.”
That said, it is advisable to check with the ferry operator before arriving at the port. If you have any specific motor-home or camper van queries, a great port of call is Motorcaravan Club Ireland.
Drivers will need to be in possession of a license held for a minimum of eight years. This will vary somewhat between rental companies. Specific information regarding restrictions will be provided on the rental company’s website in their FAQ or Terms and Conditions sections.
VW Campervan rentals have become particularly popular recently (especially for festivals), and there are companies in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland where they can be rented.