Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I need need snow tyres or chains during the Winter months?

Cars will not be fitted with snow tyres or chains.

As far as we know there are no rental companies which supply snow tyres in Scotland.  If a road is hit by snow, it will be cleared, if possible, straight away. If not possible, then it will be closed until it is possible to clear it. In cold weather, main roads are treated with salt or grit to prevent them from icing up.

Will my rental car have a spare tyre?

The easy answer to this, today, is almost certainly NO!  New cars these days very rarely come with spare tyres. None of the major manufacturers which make up most rental fleets, supply spare tyres – Ford, Vauxhall (GM), Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai and many others.  There may be a small temporary tyre to fit, to get to the nearest repair shop (though that is very unlikely), but more likely, a tyre repair kit – which is basically a can of sticky goo to pump into the tyre and a compressor can to inflate it, when the goo seals the hole.  This is a worldwide issue which most people do not know about, because most people do not have punctures.

Roadside Assistance, which we provide free, includes tyre repair and replacement, but it is subject to the excess (deductible).  You are responsible for the first £1,000 of any damage to the car (the excess), unless you pay the waiver to reduce the excess to Zero.  If you pay the waiver, you are covered for punctures and tyre repair or replacement.

What is ‘excess’?

This is the question we are asked most often.

Put simply, if you hire a car and it is damaged or stolen, the ‘Excess’ (sometimes called the ‘Deductible’ or ‘Franchise’) is the maximum amount of money you have to pay the rental company, to cover the damage or loss.

Car hire excess waiver is an optional payment, which protects you against any excess charges you may incur, should your hire car be damaged or stolen.

Other terms commonly used to describe car hire excess include deductible, franchise and Super CDW.

When you hire a car, the vehicle comes with standard car hire insurance included (referred to as the collision damage waiver, CDW, or loss damage waiver).  As is the case with most personal motor insurance policies, it’s likely that you will still be liable to pay an excess, before the rental company cover the rest of the cost of any accident or damage. This means that you are liable to pay the ‘excess’ if anything happens to the hire car, regardless of whether it was your fault or not, unless you have bought the Excess Waiver.

What driving licence will I need?

It is very important you understand this one.

EU drivers must possess a EU driving licence and either a passport or ID card.

Drivers from outwith the EU must possess a valid domestic driving licence with English translation if necessary. If an English translation is not available, an International Driving Permit is required in addition to a domestic driving licence. A passport must also accompany a domestic driving licence. You can find out more about International Driving Permits here.

The holder of an overseas driving licence may, for a period of up to one year, drive a motor vehicle in Britain.

If you are resident in the UK for more than one year, you must, by law, obtain a UK licence. This should not mean passing a test. Please see You exchange your licence for a UK one, with a payment (usually GBP43) on completion of a form ,which you submit with your licence. This normally takes about 3 weeks.

WARNING During the pandemic, waiting times have increased a great deal, so make sure to apply very early! If you do not have a UK licence, but have been resident in the country 12 months or more, your own non-UK licence is not valid! If you drive with your old licence, your insurance will not be valid and you are driving illegally. If you are 67 or over when you become resident, you can drive for 3 years without changing your licence.

If in any doubt please ask and we can advise.

Help! My flight has been delayed what do I do?

We try to ensure that your car rental experience is as stress free as possible however, despite everyone’s best efforts, sometimes things don’t go to plan.

Recently there have been many issues caused by delayed and cancelled flights so we thought it might be useful to provide some advice about what to do if this happens to you.

Firstly, if you are planning to stay in Edinburgh or Glasgow as part of your trip arrange for that to happen at the beginning! You can pick up the car from a City branch when you are ready to head off on your road trip and that way you avoid any problems with your car rental at all if your flight is delayed.

If that isn’t practical for any reason and you have to pick up a car at the Airport on arrival then this is our advice.

If your flight is delayed, or cancelled making it difficult or impossible for you to pick up your car as planned, please email us as soon as you are told of the delay, so we can help you make new arrangements.

Normally this will be all you need to do however, if your arrival is delayed to near or after branch closing time, you should call the rental branch on the number we give you when we confirm your booking as soon as possible.

At some Airports they can organise an out of hours pick up and can have someone meet you outside the terminal with your car. This is not always possible and is dependent on you having completed all the necessary paperwork and paid in advance.

An increasing problem is that people arrive at the baggage reclaim to discover their luggage did not make the trip with them. This is not normally a problem (for your car rental anyway!) although it is useful just to drop us an email or phone the branch to let us know you will be delayed. But, if it’s getting close to the branch closing time, contact the branch IMMEDIATELY to let them know. The best plan in these circumstances is for one person in your party to wait for the luggage and the other collect the car.

It’s all about communication and relies on you letting us know if there might be a problem.

How difficult is it to drive in Scotland?

We don’t think it’s difficult at all!  However, we do appreciate that if you drive on the right and have never encountered a single track road or a roundabout, you might find the thought a bit daunting.

Instead of writing lots of reassuring words about how you will be fine and will get used to it quickly, we came across this lovely wee video which gives you lots of tips.

Do you have a cancellation policy?

You normally pay for your vehicle when you arrive to pick it up and can cancel at any time before that, at no charge.

If you have prepaid, we need at least 24 hours notice to be able to provide a full refund, otherwise you will pay for the first day’s rental and the rest of your money will be refunded.

We would appreciate it however, if you can give us as much warning as possible.


Can I take my rental car to Ireland or mainland Europe?

No, unfortunately this is not an option.

Can I split the bill with my travelling companion?

Unfortunately not, one person needs to pay for the car. You would need to get your travelling companion to pay you for their share of the cost.

What happens if I get a parking, or speeding ticket, or a bus lane infringement penalty?

If you get a parking ticket, it will normally be put on your windshield and you should be able to pay it straight away.  If this is paid straight away, they usually cut the price by half.

If the parking ticket is not paid straight away, the local authority who issue the ticket will send a copy to the rental company, who will charge the credit card used to pay for the rental.

If you incur a speeding fine or bus lane infringement penalty, they will send the notification to the rental company, who will charge the credit card.

If such a payment is taken, the rental company should send you a copy of the ticket or charge notice.

When you sign the car rental agreement, on picking up the car, one clause on the agreement is an authorisation to the rental company to charge for any penalties incurred.  The rental company will add £35 administration charge to the cost of paying the penalty charge.

If you are charged for something after your rental and you do NOT receive a copy of the charge notice, please contact us and we will investigate and get a copy of any charge notice for you.

There are a number of bus lanes in both Glasgow and Edinburgh where customers are regularly caught out.  The one that causes most people problems is in Nelson Mandela Place in Glasgow – avoid this at all costs.
Can I sleep in the rental car?
You are not allowed to sleep in your car, except in an emergency.

If you use your car for sleeping, the insurance will be void.

Driving a car without insurance is against the law and if you have an accident, you will be liable for the full value of the car and any amount over this, which the accident incurs.

Please do NOT  sleep in your car!

Cars are not ventilated suitably for sleeping in them and such practice could be extremely dangerous!

Is smoking permitted in rental cars?

No, absolutely not.

Should you be found to have been smoking in a vehicle you may be charged a reasonable additional cost should the vehicle require more than the standard level of cleaning.

Can I get a left hand drive car?

We only have right hand drive cars and we are not aware of any company in the UK which rents out left hand drive cars.

Are there any toll roads or bridges in Scotland, England or Wales?

There are no toll roads or bridges in Scotland.

However, there are 23 tolls, or toll roads, in England and Wales; 18 of which are river crossings.  You can find more information about these here.

Should I get a GPS/Satnav?

Road signs and directions are good almost everywhere in Scotland.  Good maps and road atlases are available in most garages and book shops quite cheaply.

However, if you are looking for a hotel or an address, especially in a city, a Sat Nav can be invaluable.  Some city centre maps will appear in road atlases, but they won’t show hotels or sites and attractions. That’s when the Sat Nav can be a great help.

To be sure of a Sat Nav you need to book in advance.  They cost GBP30 for the duration of the rental.

Some cars may come with a built in GPS otherwise a free standalone GPS will be supplied.

Do you provide Dashcams?

Yes, a Dashcam can be provided for £5 for the duration of your rental. At the end of the rental you can buy the SD card from the Dashcam for an additional £5.

These are primarily a security device. They record continuously through the front windscreen of the car and if you are unfortunately involved in an accident, they stop recording (so they do not get recorded over). This accident footage can provide proof of who is responsible in an accident.

The micro SD cards in the dash cam can usually record over 2 hours of footage. When the card is full, it will start recording over the previous footage.

Some clients use the dashcams to record scenes of their trip. If you are doing this, it is important to download footage regularly, before it is recorded over.

Further information about the Dashcam’s provided can be found here.

How do I keep the cost of my car rental down?

There are a number of things you can do to keep the cost down when renting from us.

1. If you are picking up a car and/or dropping it off at an Airport try to keep your pick up and drop off times within branch opening hours. Particularly the pick up.

2. In July and August it can cost more to pick up a car at Edinburgh and Inverness Airports.   So, if you are planning a few days in the City, make it before you head of on your road trip and pick up the car in the City before you set off.

3. Avoid one-way rentals. The cost is not huge but there is a charge unless the pick up and drop off are in the same City. For example an Edinburgh Airport pick up and Edinburgh City drop off would not be considered a one-way rental.

4. Manual cars are generally cheaper than Automatics so, if you can drive Manual, they are much better value for money.

5. If you are spending a few days in Edinburgh or Glasgow, you won’t need a car, and unless your accommodation has parking, it will be a liability.

6. We allow a free one hour overlap so you can pick up your car at 08:00 and drop it off at 09:00, for example, and not pay for an extra day.

What’s included in the rental price?

Unlimited Mileage on all rentals with no distance restrictions

Value Added Tax (VAT) @ 20%

Insurance Cover (view details here)

Roadside Recovery

Two drivers

Will my age impact on whether I can rent a car?

Drivers aged 21 and 22 years are subject to a £25 per day additional charge and can rent cars in Group 2. Excess cannot be waived and you must have held your licence for a minimum of 4 years.

Drivers aged 23 and 24 years are subject to a £25 per day additional charge and can rent cars in Groups 2, 4, 4A, 4MP and 4MA. Excess can be waived and you must have held your licence for a minimum of 12 months.

Drivers aged 25 to 79 years can rent all vehicles. Excess can be waived.

Drivers aged 80+ can drive all vehicles apart from 9 seaters and Luton Vans. That is providing you have confirmed what medical conditions you have and that you have followed any advice or guidance given to you by your General Practitioner (Doctor) or Consultant and, if a UK licence holder, the DVLA have been made aware.

These limitations are the requirements of the insurers and there is no discretion.

Can we choose whether our vehicle will be petrol or diesel?
The fleet consists of over 9,000 vehicles.  With some car groups, we are able to say with some certainty that it is petrol or diesel, but others are not so easy.  Group 9 minivans will be diesel.  Usually group 6 4×4 SUVs will be diesel and groups 1, 2 and 3 will be unleaded petrol.  In between, they can be either.  If you have a preference, ask us. The rental branch staff will ALWAYS try their best to provide what you ask for, but sometimes, it just is not possible.  Did I mention there are 9,000 vehicles??  Spread across 40 rental branches, it makes it difficult to always supply the one or the other.
Which is the best month to travel to Scotland?

Scotland has something to offer all year round, the massed ranks of Rhododendrons in the spring, the snow covered hills and mountains in winter and the beautiful scenery at any time!

It’s usually busiest in July, August and September when the weather should be better but the accommodation may be slightly more expensive and schools in the UK are on vacation. If you decide to come then, it’s best to make arrangements well in advance to get your first choice of where to stay. Actually, that’s not bad advice at any time.

Spring is beautiful and May and June are quiet months of long days and often very good weather. The autumn (fall) is a season of ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness’ (yes we did steal that line but it is true, so…).

Can I drink the water in Scotland?

Absolutely yes. The water in Scotland is probably the best tasting in the world. No need to filter – just drink straight from the tap

How do I get to Scotland?

If you are coming from America, you ether take an expensive cruise or you fly.  United and Delta fly direct into Edinburgh and Delta also fly into Glasgow.  Icelandair fly via Reykjavik, with free stopovers to tour beautiful Iceland. Aer Lingus fly via Dublin and you can fly through most major European cities – Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid, Frankfurt and of course, London.  Heathrow is such a big place, that it can be no fun to come through there, so you may get more enjoyable journeys and better deals, through other cities.  However, a lot of airlines use London as the hub for the UK, from all over the world.

If you are coming from Europe, you can fly direct to Edinburgh and Glasgow from most European countries.  Prestwick has flights from several European countries and Inverness and Aberdeen Airports now get flights from 15 European Countries, between them.

Emirates now fly into Edinburgh and Glasgow and Turkish and Qatar both fly into Edinburgh, so you can fly from anywhere in Australasia, Asia or Africa, via Doha, Dubai and Istanbul.

Check pricing carefully.  It is often quite a bit less expensive to fly to Edinburgh or Glasgow, than to the other smaller airports in Scotland.

How difficult is it to drive on single track roads?

It’s pretty straightforward really. A single track road is wide enough for one vehicle including buses and trucks. Passing places allow vehicles to pass each other – this wee video gives some really good advice.

Do I have to buy haggis and a kilt before I leave?

No, surprisingly, you won’t see many Scots wearing haggis or eating their kilts (oops), sorry, eating haggis and wearing their kilts. Kilts are kept for more formal occasions like weddings. While people do eat haggis quite regularly nobody likes to admit it.

What is haggis?

The haggis is a small, very round, three legged bird which lives in the Highlands of Scotland. They generally live on the sides of the mountains and because of this have 2 legs longer than the other to prevent them falling down the hills. This means they can only run one way, so they are very easy to catch. All you need to do is force them to turn round and with the long legs uphill and the short one downhill, it quickly falls down the hill and into your waiting net. Simple. It is so easy to catch haggis that they have become quite rare and many people now eat vegetarian haggis which tastes just as good without the unnecessary slaughter :o)

Is a deposit required?

There are no deposits for cars in Group’s One to Nine.

For cars in Group’s Ten and Eleven there is a £500 security deposit.

When and how do I pay for my car?

You pay for your car when you pick it up from the rental branch. No payment or deposit is required in advance. (*)

The best method of payment is by credit card.

We DO NOT accept cash, prepaid cards or MAESTRO debit cards.

We do accept some other Debit Cards but these must have a 16 digit card number, an expiry date, a 3 digit Security Code and your name printed on the card.

If in doubt let us know what kind of card you have and we can let you know.

The card holder must be present when the car is picked up.

If you have a Debit Card you may find the best option is to book and pay, in advance, online. That way you know right away if your Debit Card is accepted. You can do this via this link to Arnold Clark.

(*) Payment is only taken in advance when you will be picking up the car after closing time (this must be pre-arranged)

Is there sales tax on my purchases and can I claim it back?

There is something called Value Added Tax (VAT) on many items you will buy and as a non British citizen, you can claim much of this back when you leave the country. Check with the Customs authority when you arrive and they’ll give you details. The most important thing is to obtain receipts for everything you buy. VAT is at 20% now so it is definitely worth having back!

Unfortunately car rental is considered as a service and you can only claim back the VAT on goods, not services.
Is there a fuel policy?

We supply the car FULL of fuel – for no charge. You return it FULL at the end of the rental and there is no charge.

If you return it needing refuelled, you will be charged for the pump price plus a 10% surcharge for the staff having to take the car to be filled.

How safe is Scotland for visitors?

Scotland, we are glad to say, is one of the safest countries in the world to visit.

People are generally friendly, helpful and welcoming and public transport is clean, safe to use and usually, almost on time! Although there are broad areas of the country (The North, North West and West Coast and many of the islands), where there is very little public transport and services may be confined to one or two buses a day.

Police Scotland have issued guidelines to help make the most of your visit to Scotland and ensure all goes well.  This includes warnings to beware of bogus accommodation providers and advice on how to avoid them. As well as planning your journey ahead so you do not spend half your time looking for accommodation and paying far more than if you had booked it in advance.  The Police Scotland web page with their advice is really helpful!

Police Scotland

One thing Police Scotland make very clear –

It is illegal to carry weapons of any kind in Scotland.  Even the few people licenced to own guns, have to obey strict guidelines for their safe storage and use. Their use is restricted to certain forms of hunting and target shooting.  As a result very, very few people in Scotland own guns!

This is a major reason why Scotland is such a safe destination to visit

Do I need travel insurance?

As you do not NORMALLY pay for the car until you arrive you will not NORMALLY (*) need insurance to cover the cost if you HAVE to cancel your trip. However, it is absolutely essential that you have travel insurance to cover any other costs that may be incurred in the unlikely event that your trip is cancelled. Travel insurance would also cover you if your flight was delayed and this impacted on your ongoing travel or accommodation arrangements.

In the unlikely event that medical repatriation was needed, the costs can be high – US$150,000 upwards for medical repatriation from Europe to the USA. For more information on what this means and what is involved, read this (we do not recommend any particular company for cover, just this article to see what is involved) –

(*) Payment is only taken in advance when you will be picking up the car after closing time (this must be pre-arranged)

Are there any dangerous animals or creepy crawlies in Scotland?

Not really. There are wild cats in the northern Highlands but these are very rare and very rarely seen. These are slightly larger than a domestic cat. You may also see foxes or more rarely badgers but these will keep well out of your way and are nothing to worry about.

There is only one poisonous snake, the Adder which can be found up in the hills.

It wants to meet you even less than you want to meet it so, it’s liable to be well out of the way by the time you blunder along. If you should encounter one don’t try to stroke it! Their bite rarely kills but if you are unwell or have any previous medical problems it can be serious. They have a clear ‘V’ on the back of their heads.

That’s it, no creepy spiders, no horrific insects, although the tiny midge and the quite large cleg or horse fly can make you itch in the summer months.

Should I return the hire car with a full tank?

Yes, you should return the car with a full tank. Please also ensure when you pick up your rental car that the tank is full.

What if my hire car breaks down?

The car hire fleet is generally replaced within 3-6 months, so it is extremely unlikely any vehicle will breakdown, but in case of any problems, roadside recovery cover is included in your rental costs and full contact details will be provided in your rental folder.

Further advice is provided here

Can I take the rental car on a ferry?

Yes you can take your rental car on a ferry to any of the Scottish islands. There is no extra cost.

When booking ferries, it is not possible to provide the rental car registration number (the plate) in advance. Ferry companies know this. The two main companies in Scotland are Calmac and Northlink ferries. Here is what to do to confirm bookings –


When booking a car on Calmac, they will ask:-

1) Are you towing any vehicles? – The answer is NO
2) Does this vehicle have a bike rack? – The answer is NO
3) Is this vehicle UK registered? – The answer is YES

Then you will be asked – “Please add details for this vehicle”

Scroll down and tick/check the box beside “!Select this box if you don’t know the details of the vehicle you will be travelling in. Please add your best estimation…”

In the length, width and height boxes, for all vehicle groups (except the Group 9 vans), enter 5 metres length, 1.9 metres width and 1.8 metres height.

For Group 9 vans, enter 6 metres length, 2 metres height and 2 metres width.

These figures should ensure the space allocated will ALWAYS be big enough for your vehicle. It will also ensure your car is charged at the lowest rate.


When booking on Northlink, you will be asked –

The number of passengers
Outward Route
Return Route

Clicking on “Vehicles” will bring up a small pop-up screen.-

Enter 1 beside “Add vehicles and bicycles”

Choose “CAR in the select a vehicle box, then tick/check the box beside “Rental car/Unknown license plate”

That is it. The system will allocate a space up to 2,2 metres high and no cars on our fleet are that high. Nothing else needs to be entered.

Can you supply wheelchair accessible car rentals?

Unfortunately, there are no wheelchair accessible vehicles in the fleet.

However, you could contact this company for a quotation

Automatic or Manual transmission?

Visitors from countries where you drive on the right might like to consider automatic transmission, on the basis that it’s one less thing to think of. “Bad enough driving on the wrong side, without changing gears with the wrong hand too!” Our experience tells us it really takes very little time to become used to the change, but if you feel it’s going to make things harder, we have a range of automatic vehicles. The roads in most of Scotland are not as busy as many countries, so driving is generally more relaxing here.

What are the speed limits on the roads in Scotland?

In urban areas, the speed limit is generally 20 or 30 miles per hour (mph), which sometimes goes up to 40 mph on dual carriageways (these are four lane roads with 2 lanes going in each direction). On roads outside town, the speed limit rises to 60 mph on normal roads and 70 mph on dual carriageways or motorways.

Is it difficult to drive on the left?

Not really. It’s all about paying attention to what you’re doing. We recommend you stick a little arrow on the windscreen of your car, pointing to the left. With this always in view, it’s hard to forget which side you’re on. In the rural Northern areas and on many of the islands, the roads are single track with passing places, so there is no right or left. That makes it pretty easy. Scottish drivers are generally very courteous and tolerant and will often give way to other traffic. If you hire an automatic, you’ll have one less thing to think about.

What if I should have an accident?

In the unfortunate, and hopefully unlikely event you should be involved in an accident while driving your hire car, you will have been given full instructions to follow and contact telephone numbers to use to obtain support.

What will the weather be like?

This is the difficult question! I think we can safely say it’s changeable and suggest for more information you take a look at the UK Met Office site which gives pretty comprehensive information about the weather throughout the UK. In our experience May and June are the best months but you can never be sure.

What kind of clothes should I bring on my trip?

Whatever season you visit the trick is to wear layers of lighter clothing, rather than a couple of heavy items. It’s easy to take off and put on layers as the weather demands. A light weight, wind and water proof top is probably a very good idea, too, at any time of year. For that cozy in the middle of winter feeling bring along your favourite fleece and woolly hat.

Can I use my own country’s disabled permit in Scotland or England?

The UK Department of Transport advises that people with disabled parking permits from countries outside the UK, should bring their disabled parking permit with them, when travelling to the UK and check with the local authority in the areas they intend to visit, to find out if their permit will be recognised. The following link will help in finding the relevant councils:

Can I take my dog in a rental car?

Yes, dogs are allowed in cars.

However, precautions should be taken to protect the vehicle upholstery and interior from damage and soiling. If pets are transported, please ensure all traces of animal hair are removed and odours neutralised before returning the vehicle. There will be a charge for any valeting/repairs needed, including the treatment of odours and loss of rental revenue if vehicles are returned in a state not fit to be re-hired.

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