Planning to see Europe by car? Have you considered leasing a vehicle instead of renting one? If you plan on hiring a car in Europe but will need it for 21 days or more, leasing can mean big savings. It’s just like long term car rental only cheaper!
In this step by step guide to the vehicle leasing program in Europe (sometimes called Eurolease or Eurodrive), I explain how to lease a car for your travels and share the pros and cons and of this excellent option that is open to non-EU residents.
[This post may contain compensated links. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.]
What's in this Article
What is the vehicle leasing program?
The Leasing program is available for durations of between 21 and 175 days and is simply an agreement whereby you purchase a brand new vehicle with the guarantee that the manufacturer will ‘buy it back’ from you at the end of your contract.
Whilst that can sound a bit daunting and that you might have to fork out tens of thousands of dollars for a car, in actual fact, you’re paying less than what you would for a hire car for the same period.
However, you’re getting a brand, spanking new vehicle which you just hand back at the end of your trip thanks to the lease buyback agreement.
Collection and drop off at any of the depots in France is complimentary but fees do apply when you pick up and/or drop off your vehicle in other country.
These fees can be reduced significantly if you are able to take advantage of the Early Bird offers (more info below) that are released each year.
Benefits of the tax-free leasing program include:
- Unlimited kilometres
- Full insurance with no excess (no added Collision Damage Waiver fees to pay)
- 24 hour roadside assistance
- Brand new car straight from the factory floor with a full factory warranty
- Most vehicles include an in-built GPS at no additional cost
- Guarantee you will receive the model you request
- Lower rates than regular car hire
- Additional drivers allowed for free (conditions apply)
- Driver doesn’t need to be over 25 years of age
- You can take the car into some normally ‘restricted’ countries like Hungary, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina to name a few
- Choice of almost 30 locations in Europe and UK from which you can collect and return your vehicle
CLICK HERE FOR A FREE QUOTE (Australian and New Zealand residents)
Who is eligible for the leasing program?
The program is open to drivers aged 18 years or older who reside outside the European Union and hold a valid drivers’ licence.
If you or one of your travelling companions is under 21, car hire can be difficult to secure so leasing a car in Europe is an excellent option.
The driver must not stay in Europe for more than 185 days in any consecutive 12 month period, and may not work during the period of the contract.
Full terms and conditions are shown on the website after you request a quote.
Early Bird offers
The tax-free leasing program is great value year round but the participating manufacturers also bring out Early Bird offers each year. Early Bird offers usually include free days (ie. lease/pay for 21 days and get 3 additional days free) and discounts off collection and return fees.
Early Bird car lease deals are generally on sale from around September/October for leases the following year.
Which car leasing companies offer the program?
There are currently four manufacturers that offer the long term car lease program in Europe. All are French manufacturers. They are:
Peugeot, Renault, Citroen and DS.
Your car leasing options may depend on the location from which you wish to collect or return the vehicle to and the size of the vehicle you require as not all manufacturers have the same depot locations or vehicle sizes.
Peugeot Leasing Europe
Peugeot’s leasing options include the nimble 208, a number of mid-size vehicles and the 7-seater 5008. Car-2-Europe Peugeot has a vehicle to suit every driver.
Renault Lease Europe
For the largest range of vehicle sizes to choose from, try Renault Leasing. They offer nine models ranging from the compact Clio 5 to the 5-seater Kangoo van.
Citroen Leasing Europe
The Citroen Euro Pass selection includes a range models including the C3 and the C5 Aircross.
DS Euro Pass
DS, a division of Citroen, offers four vehicles in its leasing program. They are the DS3 Crossback, DS7 Crossback, DS4 and DS9.
I have personally booked car leasing in Europe through both Peugeot and Citroen. You’ll recognise other lease cars on your travels around Europe by their distinctive red number plates.
As I said above, the whole contract signing thing can seem a bit scary, but the program is definitely legitimate and has been operating for many years.
Our first Peugeot lease was in 2000, followed by 2005, 2008, 2014, 2015 and 2019. We also leased a Citroen for our 2020 European travels, however this trip was cancelled due to the pandemic.
What does it cost to lease a car in Europe?
The first thing you’ll want to do is get a free quote so you can compare car lease rates with the prices for regular car hire.
To do this, visit this link and choose your preferred vehicle size, pick up and drop off locations and dates, whether you want a diesel or petrol model, manual or automatic transmission, and add any optional extras like GPS or child seats.
If you are collecting and renting your vehicle to a French depot, no pick up or drop off fees apply however if you are using depots outside of France, collection and return fees are around $200 to $300. These fees are usually discounted as part of the Early Bird offers.
The website will then show you the price of your lease. Any discounts that you qualify for, such as Early Bird discounts, will be reflected in the price displayed.
(Note: info shown below is based on DriveAway Holidays website – for AU and NZ residents – however the online booking process through Auto Europe for US residents is very similar.)
A great place to check driving distances and travel times is on the AA’s Route Planner. <<
Booking your Peugeot, Renault, Citroen or DS lease vehicle
Reserve your vehicle and make your payment
Once you are happy with the quote you have received online, it’s time to reserve your preferred vehicle and make your payment. Full payment is required at the time of booking, $500 of which is non-refundable should you cancel the booking.
Credit card fees are also applicable.
When your booking and payment has been confirmed, you will be emailed the lease contract to sign and return.
Receive your documentation
About six weeks prior to your vehicle collection, you’ll be emailed your leasing documents. These will include a voucher to present on collection of your car as well as instructions and maps showing the location of the depots where you will collect and return your vehicle
Vehicle collections and returns MUST BE confirmed four business days prior. If you are collecting your car immediately on arrival at the airport and have advised the booking agent of your flight details, re-confirmation is not necessary.
If, however, you are making your own way to the collection depot it is essential that you make an appointment with the depot so that your vehicle is ready for you on arrival.
Not all depots are manned all day so if you haven’t reconfirmed your collection time, you may arrive to find the depot closed and no-one in attendance.
Contact details (telephone and email) for re-confirmation are provided with your final documentation. Drop offs should also be re-confirmed four business days prior.
Collecting your vehicle
When you arrive at the depot at the designated time, a representative will run through the contract with you, ask to see your valid driver’s licence (an International Driving Permit is recommended).
They will also run through the intricacies of the vehicle with you – where the indicators are, how to select reverse gear (not all cars are the same and we got caught with this one, once!!), where to find the bonnet release, etc. etc.
You will also be reminded to make an appointment for your vehicle drop off. Staff at all the depots we have used previously have spoken very good English.
Unlike regular car hire, your lease vehicle will only be provided with about 10 to 15 litres of fuel, usually enough to get you out of the city and on your way.
You are not required to return the vehicle with a full tank and there are no charges if you don’t.
Returning your vehicle
Just as you need to make an appointment to collect your vehicle, you also need to do the same four days prior to returning it. Contact details will be provided with your documentation.
You then hand over the keys and the registration papers to the Peugeot Open Europe agent and end your ‘ownership’ of the vehicle.
*The above information applies to Peugeot Car-2-Europe and Citroen Euro Pass leases. Renault leases may have different procedures and conditions. All prices are in Australian dollars.
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