UK drivers face problems hiring vehicles at supermarkets in France

People are being told that they need an International Driving Permit despite this not being legally required

The supermarkets, such as Carrefour, could not provide a reason as to why UK drivers were unable to hire a vehicle

UK licence-holders have been told by staff at Leclerc, Carrefour and Système U supermarkets that they cannot hire vehicles unless they have a French licence or, in some cases, an International Driving Permit (IDP).

An IDP is a document that some countries ask visitors to hold in addition to a foreign licence. It provides translations of a licence's contents.

It is difficult for a French resident to obtain a British IDP, as they are issued in the UK by post offices to British residents.

Note that there is no obligation on UK licence-holders to have an IDP, as the government states here and here.

Onsite issues

Several people who booked vehicles online were told in stores of a change of policy.

Handyman Dennis James, who lives in Charente, said he went to his local Leclerc store in Ruffec in November to pick up a van he had booked online.

“I brought all the documents for the rental, to be told by the receptionist I’d be unable to hire the vehicle as I held a UK licence. There was nothing online about this but the receptionist said it’s a new rule. She had a laminated flyer in English confirming it is no longer possible.”

Several other members of a Facebook group for Britons in the area reported similar experiences at different supermarkets, including at certain stores from the Système U group.

One said she had hired a minibus without issues at E.Leclerc in the summer but was refused in October, also being shown the laminated rules.

Another branch told her it would have been acceptable with an IDP.

Reader Mick Dodd, from Pézenas, encountered a similar issue at Carrefour recently. “Both my wife and I hold clean UK licences. We were not given a specific reason why they would not rent out a van. We had no issue with Enterprise in Béziers, and have driven numerous hire cars with Hertz over the years.”

Supermarket responses

An E.Leclerc spokesman told The Connexion the firm “did not wish to comment”.

Système U did not reply to our queries, but Carrefour said there had been a mistake and it conforms to the new post-Brexit rules.

It said it would make a 'goodwill gesture' to our reader to compensate. Under a UK/EU licence agreement, residents can drive on a UK licence until expiry, unless it was first issued after 2021.

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