Paying Fines When Renting a Car Abroad

Paying Fines When Renting a Car Abroad

When you take out a rental agreement, you gain not only a car but responsibility for it and your actions while you drive it. To avoid unpleasant surprises during your vacation or business trip we recommend above all learning about the traffic in the cities you plan to visit, in particular, parking options and the highway code, as well as ways to pay fines if you still end up violating the rules.

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Most common reasons for being fined

The most common reasons for being fined are illegal parking, driving into historical zones, and breaking the speed limit. If you have violated the highway code, there is nothing you can do about it other than pay up. The actual payment procedure depends on several factors, the most important ones being:  

1. Local legislation in the country where the fine was issued.

2. Whether the fine can be paid over the internet.

Paying fines in different countries

The procedure for receiving and paying fines varies across countries. Here are several examples as provided by Hertz:

USA

In America, fines and road tolls are collected by an outsourcing company called ATS — American Traffic Solutions. It automatically debits the amount from the plastic card indicated when the car is hired. If the payment is not received, ATS requests the postal address from the car hire company to send a notice to that address. In this case, you will be charged an additional 30 USD — the car hire company’s administrative fee for providing data to ATS.

France, Germany, Italy, and Spain

The police collect fines in these countries, and they don’t bother with automatically attempting to deduct the amount from your card. Instead, the police immediately request the postal address from the car hire company, to where they send a notice of the fine to be paid. 

In turn, the car hire company provides all the information, for which it charges an administrative fee.

The administrative fee is different in each country:

  • France – 19.99€
  • Germany – 29.75€ 
  • Italy – 30.50€ 
  • Spain – 40.00€

You may pay the fine either on the site indicated on the notice or else to the bank account indicated through an international bank.

Note also that the procedure has been made a little easier in several regions of Italy: the police issue the bill to the car rental company, which pays the fine and then debits the amount from the client’s account, including an administrative fee. 

Israel, the UK, and Greece

Like in the previous example, the police submit the bill to the car rental company. The latter then pays the fine and after that deducts the amount from the client’s account, including an administrative fee.

Austria and Switzerland

The police request information about the renter from the hire company, and after obtaining the information they send a notice with bank account details so that the renter pays by bank transfer. In fact, you will know before you receive the notice that you are about to be fined — the rental company debits the administrative fee as soon as the police contact it. 

The administrative fee is 25.45€ in Austria and 48.46₣ in Switzerland.

How long it takes to issue a fine

2-3 weeks after the administrative fee is debited, documents will be sent by the rental company to the address that you indicated as your home address when you signed the contract, confirming that your information was passed on to the police. The order from the police will come within 1-2 weeks — the time needed depends on how the police operate and your country’s postal service.

Nothing is forgotten

As the police won’t send the request to the rental company straight away, the issuing of the fine might be delayed for an unknown amount of time. However, don’t think they have forgotten you — the fine might arrive a year after the offense. 

The reason is that each country has its own deadlines for requesting information and sending the fine. For example, in Italy, this totals 18 months! 

If the rental company doesn’t manage to debit the administrative fee from your card, it will send you an invoice with a request to pay the fee via bank transfer.

Some countries, for example in Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, and Finland), send an invoice for the administrative fee to the renter’s email address.

If the fine is issued on the spot

Fines issued on the spot have to be paid in the country where the car was rented, and within the time period indicated in the notice. You will not be able to pay the fine from Russia or any other country. However, you should not ignore such fines — if a fine issued on the spot isn’t paid on time, the police will contact the rental company and send you a fine by mail, meaning that the rental company will also charge you its administrative fee.

Don’t delay paying

Don’t delay paying a fine until the end of the allocated time — there is a chance that the police will not notice the fine in time and will contact the rental company. In that case, the fine will be duplicated, and you will be charged the administrative fee. Of course, you may challenge this debit, but it will cost time and effort. 

What happens if you don’t pay the fine

If you don’t pay the fine in the period shown in the notice, the police will send it again, but this time adding an extra penalty. Occasionally, the police issue the repeat fine to the rental company, rather than to you. In that event, you are released from having to pay the fine, but you will be blacklisted and won’t be able to hire a car in the future. 


Rental of a car, especially abroad, means accepting responsibilities. Before setting off to conquer new roads or admire landscapes from the window, don’t forget to study the highway code of the relevant country and city, determine your route using a map, and gain an idea of where you are going to park. 

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