Boudewijn Berends / Flickr

Can You Rent a Car Without a Driver’s License?

Nope, not without a valid one. So, let’s reframe the question again: Can you rent a car with a lost driver’s license?

Because it’s sitting on the counter at home. It slipped out at the office. Or maybe it’s at the bar from last night. Or actually, and you would totally never admit to this, but you don’t even know where it’s at! In the case that a person should find themselves without proper proof that they once passed a written and driving test en route to a car rental agency, there are several actions said person can take.

Cause the only other option is to Uber, Lyft and hitchhike to everywhere else you want to go.

Get directly to (the DMV) and do not collect $200

Obviously, this is the first logical step to do because even if it’s not possible to obtain the proper and full driver license right away, the DMV will at least issue a temporary paper license. That, combined with another form of photo ID—even a library or Costco card—should be enough for the car rental agency to honor the reservation.

(Of course, I’ve also had reps hand me keys without checking my license because I was a loyalty member. I’m not sure that makes me feel comfortable. Though that might be worth a shot: joining the loyalty program and using a kiosk to rent the car. But what if you get pulled over?)

But, I guess, I dunno, sometimes you’re just stupid and lose it en route.

But maybe it wasn’t your fault! (Or it was.)

Journalist Julie Schwietert Collazo has some good advice in this instance: File a police report.


Most car rental agencies’ managers won’t override company policy and allow you to rent without a license unless you have a police report in hand. Also, if you don’t recover your license, you’ll likely need the police report to get a replacement license when you get home.

Filing a police report is annoying.

But there’s so much you’ll be able to do with one. People override things for police reports all the time. Just do it.

Do you have a backup photocopy of the ID?

There’s a reason why backing up vital information on Dropbox is great as a form of defensive traveling.

SO here’s a short list of things I’ve gotten away with a photocopy of my driver’s license on my phone:

  • Getting through the airport (but I guess even a Costco card will work)
  • Pulling money out of the bank
  • Proving that, indeed, I am Erica Ho of sound mind and body
  • Buying a beer

I don’t need to rub it in anymore, do I?

Sooo… this doesn’t answer my question.

Because this is a situation that really goes on a case-by-case basis, and depends on the manager you run into at the agency. So smile those pearly whites, kill ’em with sugar and do all of the above, and it might be possible to drive away with a set of keys. I mean, most likely, but I ain’t guaranteeing it.

Can You Rent a Car Without a Driver’s License? via @maphappy
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