Car Rental Glossary

Additional Driver

You may wish to include another member of your party to drive the vehicle you have hired while on holiday, the second and any subsequent drivers are referred to as the additional driver(s). Some suppliers include this free of charge whilst others may make an additional charge.

Airport Code / IATA Code (International Air Transport Association)

This is a unique three-letter code that identify each airport around the globe. For example, London Heathrow is LHR and Los Angeles is LAX. Airport codes are used when booking your flight tickets and also may be used for making car rental reservations with some suppliers.

Airport Surcharge

This is an additional charge that applies at certain airport and ferry port locations where the car rental companies have to pay the airport an additional fee to use the airport's/ port facilities. This fee is often passed on to the customer and must be paid locally at the time of pickup.

Basic Rate / Inclusive Rate

The two types of car hire rates - Basic (meaning that you are opting to use your credit card for insurance coverage) and Inclusive (the insurance is being supplied by the rental company). In some countries it is mandatory to take the inclusive rate due to the lack of support by credit cards or high risk locations.

Battery & Tyre Surcharge

In Florida, America there is a car rental tax which covers the state's cost to dispose of worn car batteries and tyres. So when booking your car hire in Florida you may find an additional surcharge for this tax.

CDW (Collision Damage Waiver)

Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), also known as Loss Damage Waiver (LDW), protects the driver from any claim (minus the excess amount unless an excess waiver additional premium has been paid for) in the event of any damage occurring to the rental vehicle, except where negligence is proved but cover is not normally included for windows, tyres, car roof, undercarriage, interior, side mirrors and incidents that occur while on a ferry. Please Note: Collision Damage Waiver is NOT insurance.

Check-out / Pick-up

The location and/or time from when a hire starts.

Check-in / Return

The location and/or time, from when a hire ends.

Child Seat

Child seats and child restraints are now required in most European countries for children under the age of 5 or who weigh less than 18 kilos. These can be reserved in advance from the car rental supplier.

Delivery / Collection

Some rental companies will deliver or collect a vehicle but there would be additional charge for this. This fee is usually calculated based on the distance from the rental location. All deliveries and collections are considered on request.


This is the amount of money taken on a credit card prior to you taking the car and is a deposit against fuel, loss of car keys and insurances. This block on the card will be released provided the car is returned in the same condition it was rented in, with the same amount of fuel and the keys intact.

Drop Box

A drop box is normally available from car rental companies for you to be able to leave the car keys of the rental vehicle when the rental office is closed. Don't forget to notify the rental company at time of collection so they can properly inform you of the drop box process.


All vehicles have a standard cover and you may increase your level of insurance when you pick up your vehicle.

IDL (International Driving License)

This is where your existing US or Canadian driving license is reprinted into several different languages, its aim to expedite the process of dealing with authorities in the event that you are pulled over. Some countries will require you to have one and some of these countries include Austria, Greece, Italy Poland and Spain. They cost between 15 and 20 US dollars and can be purchased through your local AAA or CAA or online from the National Automobile Club.

Loss Damage Waiver (LDW)

See Collision Damage Waiver


To hire a vehicle at one location and to return it at another is referred to as a one-way hire.

Personal Accident Insurance (PAI)

This is an additional insurance that you may be offered when you pick up your hire vehicle. It covers the authorised driver(s) and passengers in the hire vehicle for death, disability and medical expenses. This policy may differ between suppliers so do check to ensure it meets your needs.

Refuelling Service

A service provided at check-in which enables a customer to return a vehicle which does not have a full tank of fuel.

Rental Agreement

A Rental Agreement is the formal and legally binding contract that details the terms of rental. It will need to be signed by both you the hirer and the rental company at the time you take the vehicle.

Rental Period

Normally this will be in 24 hour increments and is the time frame for which you are responsible for the rental car. Occasionally you can hire a car for a lesser time period.

Roadside Assistance

When you rent your vehicle you will also be told of the company that will provide you with roadside assistance should you breakdown during your rental period. The phone number for this is usually either in the glovebox or on the reverse of the tax disc holder.

SIPP Codes (Standard Interline Passenger Procedures)

The car rental industry has standardised codes used in determining the kind of vehicle that is being rented. They comprise of 4 letters, these designate the car size, type, transmission and whether the vehicle has air conditioning. Below is a quck guide to the codes:

First Letter:Second Letter:Third Letter:Fourth Letter:
Car SizeCar TypeTransmissionAir Conditioning
F-Full Size
B-2 door
C-2 or 4 door
D-4 door
F-Four Wheel Drive
N-No A/C
R-Has A/C