Can you drive a rental car one way?

rental car one way

The short answer to this is yes. However, there are certain conditions that you should keep in mind when you do. First you need to understand what one-way renting is. This is when you book a rental car to drive it away from one location and return it at another. There are laws as well as rules that apply when it comes to renting a car for a one-way trip.


Occasions Calling for One-way Rent

One-way renting is ideal when you plan cross-country road trips. Sometimes you do not know how long you will be driving. You might not even know your return date. Then, you could save time by not returning to the original location just to return the vehicle. Sometimes you might even decide to change your route. Or you might want to give yourself the option to change the course of the trip. Instances like these call for a one-way car rental.

This method could also be useful when you want to travel to an airport. You need not worry about driving with someone just so they can return the car. You will also find one-way booking handy when you are moving house. If you are moving a long distance away, you will find one-way traveling useful.



Some rental companies charge a return fee when you rent their vehicle one-way. This is to cover the cost of driving back to the original location. However, popular companies that have branches in many places might not charge this fee. This is because they do not have to return the car as they have many clients waiting in line.

The one-way fee is mostly charged if you are driving a very long distance. Therefore, the longer the distance from the origin, the higher the fee. This might not be applicable of you return the car in the same state or city. However, on rare occasions a fee even at such an instance might be charged.


In the US

Crossing borders might call for extra fees. This will be according to the laws and regulations in countries or states in question. In the US, most companies allow crossing state borders. Some companies have limits as to which borders you can cross. For example, in Alaska and Hawaii you probably will not be able to cross borders in most cases.

Driving to Canada is allowed by most car rental companies. However, conditions may apply as to the type of car. You might not be allowed to drive a luxury car across borders. If a rental car company allows driving to Mexico from the US, there are special rules that apply. You will need to buy extra car insurance, for example.


In Europe and Elsewhere

In Europe, crossing borders is commonly easy although you might have to pay an extra fee. This fee will cover insurance and taxes most of the time. If you must drop the car off in a different country, you might have to pay another extra fee. Your rental may cover a limited number of countries.

In Asia, Africa, and South America, there might be additional rules that make it very hard to cross borders. There might be requirements of extra documentation, in addition to extra fees. It is best to learn the rules before renting one-way in such cases.



There are some tips that might come in handy when you are renting a car one-way. Make sure to book well in advance in case you need changes made. Read the fine print about fees. You also must check the company-specific and country or state-specific rules. You might also have to check about extra fees and requirements. When you are given the charges, break them down and re-check. Also, consider special seasonal offers. It might prove smart to let the rental company know your route in advance.


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