Home Rental Cars If You’ve Rented A Car In Another Country & Get A Ticket, Do You Have To Pay It?

If You’ve Rented A Car In Another Country & Get A Ticket, Do You Have To Pay It?

by SharonKurheg

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 happened to someone’s cousin when they got a parking ticket in Italy. Someone else’s brother had this happen after getting a speeding ticket in Canada. So-and-so had a friend who got TWO tickets in Northern Ireland 5 years apart and never paid them.

People have suggested that you have nothing to worry about if you never plan to go back to said country. 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 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 more often 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 country, 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

7 comments

honolulu44 January 28, 2020 - 4:32 pm

In Australia, an officer pulled me over in 2019, and after issuing me a 300AUD fine, he turned off his body cam and said they wouldn’t come after me in the US if I didn’t pay it. I assume he had to make his quota but doesn’t matter whether the fine gets paid.

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brteacher January 28, 2020 - 6:45 pm

In Iceland, I was given the choice of immediately paying the fine, or going to jail. Same thing in Belize.

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Hey_It's_That_Guy! February 1, 2020 - 5:34 pm

In Spain, speed camera on the A-2 caught me 165km. Back home, el Gobierno sent me a notice to pay 100 euro by a certain date. 2 weeks later el Gobierno sent me a second notice to pay, but, if I paid within 5 days the fine would be 40 euro. I went online and 40 euro later I felt right as rain as I had and have been back every year to my Motherland ole!

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steve case January 7, 2022 - 1:49 pm

There is a cut and dry answer to this. You gave the car rental company your credit card information. If you don’t pay the fine, they will bill your credit card. We strayed into a “zero traffic” congestion are in Florence Italy by just one block. That was far enough to be picked up on a violation camera. A couple of months later, the rental car company sent me the notice of violation which was printed in Italian. Using Google translate, I figured out what happened and where it happened. We paid the fine directly because if the rental car company pays it, they will also hit you with a service fee.

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SgFm January 7, 2022 - 9:21 pm

Years ago when Italian cities instituted resident only driving zones, (ZTL), I unknowingly transited a ZTL twice in five minutes in Florence. I got a 490 euro charge to my Amex card five months later from the car rental company. I disputed it and after Amex investigated and presented me with the documentation from the rental car company, including each of the fines, and a 50 euro fee from the rental car company, Amex correctly declined to reverse the charge, unfortunately for me.

Several years later, when staying on Lake Constance on the Swiss side we drove around the lake for the day, which included crossing into Austria. We intentionally did not purchase an Austrian vignette, realizing we were taking a chance we’d be caught out, which of course, we were. A few months later we received a notice from some official agency in Austria, (in German), demanding payment of a fine. I ignored the notice, and then also ignored a second notice. I have driven in Austria since, just again briefly transiting enroute to Germany from Italy. This was four months ago. It will be interesting to see what happens, if anything , this time.

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SgFm January 7, 2022 - 9:30 pm

Yes, car rental company charged me 490 euro, which included a 50 euro fee for this exact thing in Florence. Credit card dispute (rightly), sided with the car rental company when they investigated my dispute of the charge.

A few years ago we did not buy a required Austrian vignette because we only crossed through Austria briefly. A few months later we got a letter demanding payment of a fine twice, in a period of 5 or 6 months. We ignored it. We transited Austria again briefly 4 months ago without purchasing a vignette. I imagine we be getting another fine demand sometime soon.

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Fathiss January 7, 2022 - 6:55 pm

Charged my credit card a year later on a speeding fine with a rental car. I disputed the charge and they dropped it. This was in Cape Town.

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