Age restrictions can hamper ability to rent car in Britain

Q&A

October 21, 2007|By San Jose Mercury News

I want to rent a car next year while visiting Britain, but I'll be 83. Will companies rent to me?

Although most major car rental agencies have no maximum age restrictions when renting in the United States, you'll find that countries and franchise owners throughout Europe usually have their own rules.

Generally, the age limit in the United Kingdom is 69. However, a spokesman for Vanguard Car Rental, the parent company of National and Alamo, told us those agencies have no age limits in the United Kingdom except in Pembroke, Carmarthen and the Isle of Man, where the maximum age is 70.

Auto Europe (autoeurope.com), which represents major agencies such as Avis and Hertz, says each agency has its own age restrictions. We recommend contacting Auto Europe or each agency and asking about the individual policy where you will be renting. It also might be a good idea to bring a letter from your doctor stating that you're in good health and able to drive.

We're going to need passports for our family, but I'd rather not drag the kids to a place for their photos. What do you know about online services?

It's possible to do the photos yourself, but the State Department has pretty exacting standards regarding lighting, sizing and pose. If you want to try, go to trav el.state.gov and click on "Passports," then "Guide for Professional Photographers."

Online services such as epassportphoto.com can take a lot of the angst out of the process, although you still have to take the photos yourself. Epassportpho to.com offers a list of do's and don'ts, plus examples of correct and incorrect photos. You follow the instructions on the site and receive a 4-by-6-inch sheet with six photos. You can then print the photos at home (if you have a high-quality printer and paper) or have them printed at a store.

Epassportphoto.com does not charge a fee and removes your photos when your session is over.

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