How to Rent a Car in Israel

| August 28, 2012 | 0 Comments
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בוב שלג  Public Domain Israel Highway Road

בוב שלג  Public Domain
On the Highway

Tips on Renting a Car in Israel

Israel is small—about the size of the state of Vermont—and its public transportation system is both inexpensive and efficient. However for most travelers, a car is the most convenient way to navigate. The good news is that Israeli roads are up-to-date and parking tends to be ample compared to that of major European and U.S. cities. Also, distances between locations are short. But, like everything else, there’s a learning curve. Here are some tips to make car rental in Israel a smooth and worry-free process.

One must be 24 years or older to rent a car in Israel. Drivers from western countries need only show a regular driver’s license. In most cases, an international driver’s license is unnecessary; however, it’s a good idea to check before you leave for Israel that this is indeed the case for people arriving from your country of origin.

Cars for rent in Israel tend to be smaller and less luxurious than those available in other countries, albeit modern and in quality condition. Car models for rent in Israel include the Hyundai Getz/i10 and other Hyundai models, along with the Mazda 3 and Mazda 6. Larger car models are available for some of the more well-known car brands.

מצילומי יהודית גרעין-כל  CC BY 2.5 Forest and Field Awaiting Discovery

מצילומי יהודית גרעין-כל  CC BY 2.5
Forest and Field Awaiting Discovery

Driving in Israel

This may seem too ridiculous to mention, but a stitch in time saves nine: check that your driver’s license is valid before you arrive in Israel. It’s also a good idea to thoroughly read your insurance policy to see what is and is not covered. Take note of your maximum liability.

Israeli law requires that children travel in car seats. Before you book your car, check and see if a car seat is included. If not, see if one is available for hire or simply transport your own.  It will be one less thing you need to worry about and your familiarity with the device will expedite securing it into the rental car and adjusting it for your child.

Take a good look at the rental period as outlined by your contract. In general, the rental period runs according to an exact 24-hour period per day. Going over the rental time period by even a few minutes may result in being charged for an extra full day. Check with your rental company as to how they handle delays. Coordinate your car rental times with your  flight arrival and departure to expedite pick up and return.

Most car rental agencies are open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. during the week, but many are closed on Saturday and on Jewish holidays, except for those agencies located at the airport.

Note that travelers may not cross the border into Jordan or the Sinai in rental cars. If you intend to visit these areas, you’ll need to find alternative means of travel.

Renting an Israeli Car

Consider trunk space. While the car you rent may hold up to four passengers, it may not be sufficiently roomy to house four large suitcases. Consider upgrading to a larger vehicle if you have a lot of luggage.  A family with several children will be more comfortable in a van rather than a car.  But remember, a van in Israel does not have the same space as one from the U.S.  A family of six with two pieces of luggage per person needed for a three week holiday would need a 9-person van and not the expected 7-person van.

Wayne McLean  CC BY 2.0 View from Israel Roads: Beautiful Jerusalem

Wayne McLean  CC BY 2.0
Beautiful Jerusalem

GPS System

How are your navigational skills? It is highly recommended that you consider renting a GPS system. Jerusalem in particular can take some getting use to with a number of one-way streets and roads which curve and branch in a number of ways, so a GPS can be of immense help. Some of the rental agencies now rent GPS as a matter of course. Since Israel is continually developing, remember that the GPS should always be used in conjunction with road signs and maps.

Renting a Car from Ben Gurion Airport

Renting a car at Ben Gurion Airport is sensible, since this is the usual port of entry for travelers.

There is an airport tax of $27 on all car rentals originating from the airport, as is the case for all car rentals from international airports. Therefore some travelers find it advantageous to get to their first destination a different way, picking up a car from a different branch location. However, keep in mind that if you want to bypass the airport tax, you must also return to the airport by other means, returning your rental before leaving for the airport.

It’s possible to rent a car on the spot, but booking in advance is a good way to explore all your options. We recommend that you book your car at least a month before your trip to Israel. There is no guarantee there will be a vehicle available, especially in high season. Getting the best price will somewhat depend upon the season and whether you arrive during a national Jewish or Israeli holiday. After your long flight, you will likely be in an extreme stage of weariness, but don’t allow yourself to forgo giving your rental car a thorough going-over to check for existing scratches and damages to prevent misunderstandings upon returning your car.

How to Rent a Car in Israel: Did You Know?

In many cases, a weekly or monthly car rental rate is cheaper than a daily rate and may even be cheaper than the rate for five days.

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Category: Car Rentals

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