If You Rent A Car In Another Country & Get A Ticket, Do You Have To Pay It?

by SharonKurheg

It’s a question that’s come up for decades. If you rent a car in another country and get a ticket for a minor offense, say, speeding, illegal parking or driving somewhere you weren’t supposed to, do you have to pay the fine after you get back home to the U.S.?

Well, it’s complicated.

Every person you ask will have a different opinion. And that’s the thing… it’s all opinions and anecdotal stories. This happened to someone’s cousin when they got a parking ticket in Italy. Someone else’s brother had this happen after getting a speeding ticket in Canada. So-and-so had a friend who got TWO tickets in Northern Ireland 5 years apart and never paid them.

People have suggested that you have nothing to worry about if you never plan to go back to said country. Other people have said collections agencies have tracked them down for traffic offenses they committed in other countries. People have said that if you don’t reimburse a car rental company for the fine, you’ll get blacklisted from that company for life. Others have suggested that unless payment for traffic violations is in the rental car company’s terms and conditions, you don’t have to pay it.

a red and white sign with a white line in the middleThere’s no cut and dry answer because it depends on a bunch of factors:

  • The approach to getting fines paid by foreigners varies from country to country.
  • The terms and policies for rental car companies vary by company and country.
  • Some countries have reciprocal agreements where points incurred in another country can carry over into your own, some don’t.
  • As the owner of the car, the rental company may get hit with the fine for the violation and, depending on company and country, MAY be able to pass it onto you and potentially even charge your credit card. They also may include a handling charge for the same.
  • Did it happen in a developing nation? Countries without as much money may or may not have the resources to follow through with getting payment.

So, what happens if you don’t pay?

That’s the big question, and unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer.

The likelihood of not paying the fine coming back to haunt you increases with each of the following factors:

  • You were in a developed nation, especially one with reciprocal links to your home country
  • You were in a rental car from one of the big international companies, like Hertz, Sixt, etc.
  • The fine was a significant amount (you’d think they’re going to go after someone with a $3000 fine more often than someone with a $30 fine)
  • You intend to revisit that country, especially the same state/province/city/area
  • You intend to rent a car again from the same company

Another big factor in deciding whether or not to pay that fine is how much of a risk-taker you are. Is it worth it to you to be able to go back to a country, or rent from whatever car rental company, no questions asked? Or just to feel guilt and worry-free? If so, then pay the 100 Euros and be done with it. It’s definitely a Your Mileage May Vary situation.

What would you do if you got a traffic violation from another country? Would you pay for it?

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Laurie January 27, 2024 - 12:37 pm

My husband received a speeding ticket in Germany last year. We were going through a small village and saw the camera flash as we went by. About a month after we got home, Enterprise (who we rented our car from) sent us a letter with a letter saying they were charging us $35 for them receiving a speeding ticket for the car we were driving. The ticket was included and I contacted the local village via email as it didn’t have a way to pay online. They responded that since we weren’t German citizens we do not have to pay the speeding ticket fine. Just our one experience.

Tennen January 27, 2024 - 3:17 pm

I got a parking ticket in Greece once. It wasn’t too expensive when split between 4 people, but we had zero time to pay. The rental car company (Sixt) took care of it. We just paid them and they (presumably) paid it off. I don’t think they added any fees, either. The booking was under my name, so I didn’t want that hanging over me. Things may have changed so YMMV.

Boraxo January 27, 2024 - 6:16 pm

In 2006 I received a ridiculous speed camera ticket in Melbourne AU for 3kph over limit. Never paid it and no trouble entering Australia on multiple occasions since.

In 2016 I received a ZTL citation for driving a rental vehicle thru a restricted zone in Pisa. I ignored it and the city sent it to a US collection agency which I told to F off. Never paid it and no problems renting vehicles from the same company.

So this is not legal advice but personally I would decline to pay these bogus citations.

Steve January 27, 2024 - 8:40 pm

It’s pretty simple. The ticketing jurisdiction will bill the rental car company. The rental car company will contact you. Either pay the fine or they will pay the and charge you for it plus a service fee. Remember, the rental car company has your credit card info. Ask me how I know this.

J Harris January 28, 2024 - 10:33 pm

In 2012 I was stopped for speeding in Borswana. The police officials were well organized. I had failed to reduce speed approaching the boundary of a village. Speed limits are posted. They had recorded my speed on video, showing me on the camera situated under a roadside tree. The inspected my license, wrote the ticket and swiped my card for payment all done within 30 minutes. Botswana is a beautiful country, but don’t let wildlife or beautiful skies prevent you from seeing and obeying the speed limits.

Chris February 25, 2024 - 11:53 pm

I just got an email from my rental car company in Brisbane. I got a ticket for having my phone on my lap. It was captured on a traffic camera. Queensland wants $3,800 US for the first time offense! This is really unfair and I can’t pay it. They say the amount might be reduced once I nominate myself as the driver and it wasn’t a company. The rental car is registered as a company vehicle. This will be a real pain in the butt to deal with.


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