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 information. This is what happened to someone’s cousin when they got a parking ticket in Italy. Someone else’s brother had this happen after they got a speeding ticket in Canada. So-and-so had a friend who got TWO tickets, 5 years apart, in Northern Ireland and they never paid them.
People have suggested that if you never plan on going back to said country, you have nothing to worry about. 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.
There is 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 both 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? They 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 moreso 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 county, 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