Using Hire Vans Abroad

First things first...before you make your trip.

Have you checked out alternative methods of transporting your goods?  If you have only a small volume or weight of goods and the distance is great it can be cheaper to get items shipped or moved as part of a consignment. We often get calls from people looking to move a 3 piece suite to Spain or somewhere equally far. Our usual response goes along the lines of recommending the burning/sale of the suite and purchase of a nice new one in the destination country.  A simple rule of thumb is, the higher the volume of goods you need to move, and the cheaper the unit cost is.  The reasons for the high cost of going abroad are numerous and we go into them further down the page.

Don't look at anything until you have insurance sorted! Check that your insurance company will transfer your insurance and that it will cover you driving abroad.

The bottom line is that usually when you are going outside of Ireland that you insurance company is going to be very reluctant to offer you cover. This is especially true when you are attempting to use a private car policy. If you get shot down attempting to arrange cover, don't take it personally, its part and parcel of Irish insurance companies releuctance to actually offer flexibility and value to their captive customers.

If You cannot get your insurance company to cover you we do have options for both UK and European cover. These are offered on an individual basis and cost is determined by destination, duration and vehicle type. Get in touch and we can tailor cover for your trip.

 Next, you have to get a Ferry.

Until our National development plan includes an undersea tunnel you are going to have to rely on a ferry service to get you abroad. There are 4 variables in the cost of this trip, these are

  • Size of the Hire Vehicle.
  • Destination of Ferry ( UK ferry Services typically have a 6m lenght limit before freight and European sailing sell by the meter)
  • Ferry service selected, e.g. Swift or standard
  • Time of Year.

The typical van will fit in a ferry under “van Class”; typically this will only be marginally more expensive than a car. Most ferry companies operate a 6 meter length limit (an lwb transit is 5.9 metres) and a 2.6m height limit (a lwb T350 transit comes in at around 2.4 metres) for this van class. These dimensions are typical for the Ireland-UK ferries, travel to the European mainland can have different requirements in regards to size, its always best to price you ferry and plan you trip prior to booking a van or truck.

Generally if you exceed these dimensions, the cost will rise and the class will probably change to “light freight”. This is the class that many truckers come under; it is based by most companies on length. Our Canter light Trucks are in this category, typically the cost between classes for Vans and Light Trucks will be of the order of 30%. Our larger Medium and Heavy Trucks do not come into this article as their use is limited to domestic hire.

Generally ferries to Continental Europe are more expensive than Ireland-UK. For example taking a Light Truck between Ireland and the UK usually costs around €450-€550 return. For the same truck to France it can typically rise to €800 euro.

The Swift ferries such as the “Seacat” can come with a price premium and some of these faster ferries do not come with a “light freight” section, so you might have to take a slower alternative if taking a truck abroad.

The summer months tend to be the most expensive time of the year for ferry crossings; hence the prices tend to be higher.  Ferries do not work like hotels, so there are seldom last minute specials to be had. One option is to sign up to a ferry company’s news letter which quite often makes you aware of specials that are running. This can be useful if your move is not time critical. More often than not you do not have this luxury, with the ferries it pays to book early. You can negotiate a little better when they have a boat that’s only 30% full. They can be pushed on price, so don’t be shy. Just don’t expect to get a discount on ferry that’s leaving the next day.  

Diesel is the fuel and you will probably use quite a lot of it.

All our hire vehicles use diesel.  Quite often we get asked about fuel economy, it’s a tricky subject to answer. Again there are many variables. The faster a person drives the more fuel they consume per Kilometre. The heavier the load the vehicle is carrying the more fuel will be consumed. Also Trucks tend to use more fuel than vans. 

For example a trip to southern Spain ( Assuming France rather than Bilbao) ferry would be roughly 5000km. A transit lwb could be expected to give 680km on a tank. This means the tank would need to be filled 7.4 times. The tank takes 80 litres, so the cost in fuel would be around €885 assuming diesel at €1.29 per litre (average as of 30/09/2021). A light truck on the same run would use at least €1100 euro in fuel, although this can be balanced out by the volume which is over double...remember the volume/pricing  thing!!

You can minimise fuel costs by:  

  • selecting the vehicle closest to your needs.
  • Trying to remain at a driving speed of less than 110km per hour. When you exceed this speed, the drag becomes far more an issue in fuel consumption; this is because aerodynamics of vans and trucks are nowhere as good as a car.
  • Try also to maintain a steady driving style; all that accelerating followed by braking is just wasted fuel.
  • Only taking items that you really need,
  • by stocking up on wine/goods on your return leg, there is little sense in driving an empty vehicle back through France for example!

 And then there is the hire vehicle.....

We are one of the few hire companies who happily supply vehicles for use abroad. The thing with vehicles that go out of the country is that they have to be relatively new and most importantly fresh. By fresh we mean the vehicle is in pristine mechanical condition and relatively low mileage. As miles creep up on vehicles they have increased risk of breakdown, punctures and general failures. We do charge a higher rate for non-domestic use, this is due to the higher risk premium associated with this type of hire and the inspection carried out on the vehicle prior to going abroad. For non-domestic trips we select the freshest vehicles available (quite often only a few weeks old) and have them inspected prior to customer arrival. This ensures that all items such as oil, water tyres and operation of all equipment has been checked in preparation for your journey. This is one reason we can offer a service that some others choose not to.

The vans we provide for the UK or Europe can be of a different specification than domestic vehicles. Optionally they can have Air conditioning, satellite navigation system, cruise control, parking sensors and a higher bhp engine for motorway use, ask for a quote on a premium unit if desired. ( Update 30/09/2021 : Currently getting additional options and specifications on vans is virtually impossible due the semi-conductor shortage, virtually all the new vans we have purchased in the last 6 months have arrived with many features unavailible as it is not possible to specify specification currently)

The deposit for a vehicle going to the UK is 1000 euro and 2000 euro for Europe. If you are taking insurance from us payment must be made via a credit card in the primary drivers name.

Can't I just buy insurance cover from you guys?

Yes we can, call us for a quotation.

You need AA Fivestar cover for Europe.

AA Fivestar is compulsory on all overseas trips. This is a great product and really provides peace of mind for what can be a stressful activity. Fivestar basically provides the customer with full breakdown assistance 24/7, also they provide for recovery of the vehicle back to Ireland in the event of an accident or irreparable fault. One thing that customers must be aware of is how AA fivestar works. If you breakdown the AA will organise a repair, the customer must give the AA time to fix the fault, the AA will provide accommodation and revised transport costs for the customer. A general breakdown does not give the customer authority to leave the vehicle unless the AA deem the vehicle as unfixable and instruct the customer that they will return the vehicle to Ireland. Leaving a vehicle abroad will result in the customer paying all recovery and off hire costs to .