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What to do if your license expires before or during car rental
January 3, 2023

What to do if your license expires before or during car rental 

Plans made, bags packed, car rental booked, and then it all falls apart when you go to pick up your rental: Your driver's license is expired! Unfortunately, car rental companies will not allow you to rent a car with an expired license. And it's also a no-go for those drivers whose licenses will expire during their car rental period. While downright frustrating, there are a few possible solutions that can help get your trip back on track.  

Things you can do if your license expires before or during your car rental period

Of all the documents required to rent a car, a valid driver's license is the most important one. Sadly, the DMV is not required to mail you a friendly reminder that your driver's license is about to expire. We’ve all been there and get it: It's easy to forget to check the expiration and renewal dates on important documents, especially if your trip is last-minute. So if you find yourself with an expired license and the need to rent a car, here is what you can do.

Change your travel dates

If you have the luxury of flexibility, changing your travel dates is probably your best and most cost-effective option. This will buy you time to visit your local DMV for a renewal. In most cases, you'll be issued a temporary paper license on the spot. Some companies (though not all, so make sure to check with your rental agency) will allow you to rent a car with a temporary license as long as you can verify your identity with a photo ID such as, for example, your passport. Suppose your rental company does not accept a temporary driver's license. In that case, you'll need to check the expected wait time for your permanent license to arrive. Depending on the state, the waiting period can be anywhere from 7 to 45 business days. 

The sooner you change your travel dates, the better. Rental companies may charge change fees as you approach your original pick-up date. Avail car sharing, on the other hand, allows borrowers to change or cancel their booking dates at any time and for any reason. If you decide to completely cancel your trip before its scheduled start time, you'll receive a full refund. And there is no change fee either, so you can just shift your dates to ensure you have your new license in hand.

Switch to another driver

If changing dates is not an option, switching to a different driver is another solution. If you borrow a car with Avail, you can always add a second driver to the trip at no additional cost — they’ll just need to create their own account and have their license verified. If your license is expired, you can cancel your reservation and have your second driver rebook the reservation as the primary (and only) driver. So if you have a friend who'll have your back in a time of need, you might want to consider calling in a favor. 

Take a flight

If all else fails — your travel plans can't be modified and getting a second driver is not possible — cancel your rental and book a flight instead. And while you can't rent a car with an expired license, TSA will allow you to board a domestic flight with one. However, TSA will only accept an expired driver's license up to a year after the expiration date. 

Other things to make sure you have for your car rental

When it comes to renting a car, a valid driver's license is non-negotiable; however, it's not the only thing you will need to have when picking up your ride. 

Credit card

To reserve and pay for your car rental, you'll need a credit card with the name on the card matching the one on your driver's license. What if you don’t have a credit card? Some major rental companies do not accept debit cards. Those that do might have you jumping through hoops with credit screenings, a security deposit and additional fees.

Car insurance

Car insurance is another must-have for car rentals. If you have personal car insurance, check that it applies to car rentals as well. Your credit card may also offer car rental insurance. Or, you can buy the optional insurance offered by the car rental company. When you borrow a car with Avail, our upfront pricing already includes insurance coverage from Allstate — there are no additional fees or choosing plans.

Skip renting and borrow instead

The unexpected happens to the best of us. That’s why Avail doesn't charge borrowers cancellation or change fees should their plans take a drastic turn. We don't charge to add a second driver either. When you borrow with Avail, you’re getting affordable, all-inclusive pricing, including insurance coverage from Allstate, so you can hit the road happy.