Hiring a car if you have a criminal record

This is a short information page about hiring a car if you have a criminal record. The aim of this page is to set out what you need to disclose to a hire company and what problems you may encounter if you have a criminal record. It forms part of our information section on motoring offences.

In the UK, car rental companies are legally required to check your full driving licence before they will allow you to hire a car. With the abolition of paper licences, you will need to provide the hire company with an access code from the DVLA to enable them to check the details of your licence. Your licence will disclose any unspent motoring convictions.

If you have an endorsement on your licence, it will remain unspent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act for 5 years and you will need to disclose it.

Car hire companies generally take the view that:

  • If you’ve been disqualified for more than 12 months for dangerous/drink driving, you will be unable to hire a car until your conviction becomes spent.
  • If you’ve been disqualified for less than 12 months for speeding or the accumulation of points then you should be able to hire a car from the date your disqualification ends (even though your conviction may not be spent)
  • If you’ve had less than 11 points on your licence over the previous 3 year period, then you may be accepted to hire a car.

From research we’ve carried out, very few car hire companies ask about non-motoring convictions, but we would always recommend that you check the small print of any hire agreement or insurance policy.

Under no circumstances do you need to disclose spent convictions when hiring a car.

If you’re looking to rent a car outside the UK then the restrictions are likely to vary from country to country.

More information

  1. For practical information – More information can be found on motoring offences and insurance
  2. To discuss this with others – Read and share your experiences on our online forum
  3. Questions – If you have any questions about this you can contact our helpline.
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