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Can I take a rental car on a Ferry?

There are some places you just can’t get to by air and as a result, renting a car on smaller islands can also be a problem. With that in mind, we’re often asked if it’s possible to take a rental car on a ferry to get to those hard to reach places. The good news, is that in the majority of cases you can indeed take a rental car on a ferry but there are a few things you need to know first.

rental car on ferry

Booking a ferry crossing for a rental car?

A lot of ferry crossings require advance booking and to know the size of vehicle you are taking. As we operate on a ‘car hire or similar’ basis, it’s not possible to say with 100% confidence the make and model of car, nor the registration of the car. In these cases, you should check with the ferry operator how best to pre-book your rental car. Whilst we can’t guarantee a make and model, the ‘or similar’ policy means you should have a comparable car, one that will be very unlikely to make a material difference to the ferry operator, for instance if you book a compact / medium car such as a VW Golf and you are supplied with a Ford Focus, these models are of comparable size and should cause no issue. The option of course is to arrive at the ferry terminal and book your travel on the day, however there are some uncertainties around availability if the routes are fully booked.

Ferry friendly car rental agents*:

  • Avis
  • Europcar
  • Hertz
  • Sixt
  • Thrifty
*subject to location / crossing – always check before booking your rental car / ferry crossing

How to take a rental car on a Ferry:

  1. Research before you book to ensure your planned ferry crossing isn’t prohibited
  2. Check which car rental agents permit taking rental cars on a ferry
  3. Check with ferry operator what car / registration detail to use when booking
  4. Confirm at rental desk at pick-up that you intend to take the car on a ferry

Popular car rental ferry crossings

Most ferry crossings in a rental car occur with the same country so cross border fee’s rarely apply. Some of our most popular ferry crossings in a rental car are;

Popular UK ferry crossings

Some of Scotlands best kept seecrets require a ferry crossing, so we're often asked if you can take a rental car to Arran or Islay. It's rarely a problem but you should check in advance, either with ourselves or direct with the rental agent, certain car types are not permitted but we can advise on the specifics as this varies from rental to rental. Some of our other popular UK ferry crossings include;
  • Southampton to Isle of Wight
  • Glasgow / Edinburgh / Inverness to Arran / Mull / Islay / Harris
  • Dover to Calais
  • Portsmouth / Southampton to Le Harve / St Malo / Chergourg

Popular Greek Island ferry crossings

If you’re renting a car on any of the Greek islands and fancy seeing more of the archipelago, it’s usually really easy to hop on a ferry between islands. Or if you’re arriving into Athens Airport and renting a car from there, you can get a ferry crossing to most of the islands with daily services. During peak months, these are daily as are inter-island routes, however in the off peak season from November to February they do operate a reduced schedule so its wise to plan ahead and check what crossings are available.
  • Athens to the Greek Islands – Most of the islands are accessible by ferry 365 days a year.
  • Mykonos to Santorini – Ferries run daily from March to October.
  • Naxos, Paros, Kos to Santorini – Ferries run daily all year round.
  • Crete to Santorini – Ferries run daily from March to October.
  • Rhodes to Crete – An overnight ferry service runs all year round.
  • Rhodes to Santorini, Mykonos, Cyclades – Daily ferries from Rhodes to Athens that often stop at the Cycladic islands (Syros, Naxos, or Paros). Inter-island ferries then operate.
  • Corfu to Santorini, Crete, Mykonos – no ferries available

Dover to Calais in a rental car

We’re often asked if you can take a rental car from the UK to France on the Dover to Calais ferry crossings. It’s generally permitted with the exception of 8+ seater vehicles and some premium class cars. If you are under 25 and renting a car you may also find that the rental agent will not permit taking the car out of its source country. Our team will gladly check the cross border requirements and charges for any of our rentals, so all you need to do is ask. The cross border fee is paid directly to the rental agent when you collect the car and not to us, however we can advise what this fee is before you travel and enable you to compare total prices from various rental agents.

Can I take a rental car on the channel tunnel? (Eurotunnel)

Much like taking a rental car on a Ferry, the same issues might apply to taking a rental car on the channel tunnel. As with the Dover to Calais ferry crossing, most rental agents in the UK will only allow regular rental cars to cross into France. 9 seaters and some premium models are not permitted, ask if in doubt. The same cross border charges will apply.
Phil Partridge
Posted: October 16, 2018 by Phil Partridge
About the Author -

Travel writer, car rental guru, Phil has rented cars all over the world and shares his knowledge and experience on the Rhinocarhire.com Blog. Favourite country to visit: France.

Last updated: Sunday, February 4, 2024
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