What is a Vehicle on Hire certificate?

Carlton Boyce / 06 June 2016

It’s a legal requirement in all European Union countries to carry your vehicle registration document but what do you do if you are in a hire car?

With the summer almost upon us, many drivers will be hiring a bigger or better car for their annual holiday. 

Hiring a car that can accommodate all your holiday luggage – and perhaps give backseat passengers a bit more legroom – is a canny move that means you don’t have to drive an unnecessarily large car the whole year round. 

Avoid these hire car rip-offs.

However, you might be breaking the law by doing so…

What’s the problem?

It’s a legal requirement in all European Union countries to carry your vehicle registration document, or V5C, to prove that you are the owner of the vehicle you are driving.

However, if you’re driving a hire car then you won’t be able to lay your hands on the registration document as it doesn’t belong to you. 

Nor are photocopies or a letter of authority acceptable; you need to original V5C and if you don’t have it then you could be breaking the law.

Luckily, there is a solution called a Vehicle on Hire certificate or VE103 to give it its official name. It was first issued in 1963, but despite a 50-something history, few motorists have ever heard of it.

Eight weird driving laws from around the world.

What is a Vehicle on Hire certificate?

A Vehicle on Hire certificate is exactly what it sounds like: it’s a document that proves that you have permission to drive the named vehicle and is acceptable in lieu of a V5C.

How do I get one?

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) is one of the designated issuing authority, so if you hire a car from one of its members they will be able to issue the certificate on the BVRLA’s behalf.

Read our guide to the basics of driving abroad.

It sounds like a lot of fuss about nothing!

If you don’t get stopped by the police, then you will probably get away with not having one, but if you do then the consequences could be severe and can include a hefty fine and having the vehicle impounded.

BVRLA Director of Member Services Nora Leggett says: “Whether it’s because they are not aware of the rules, or they decide to take the risk, there are drivers who travel abroad in a leased vehicle without the correct VE103 documentation. It is essential that businesses understand their responsibilities and educate drivers to avoid significant disruption.”

For more tips and useful information, browse our motoring articles.

Can I get them anywhere else?

Yes, if the company that you have hired the car from isn’t a member of the BVRLA then the AA or RAC can also issue a certificate for a small fee.

Get your quote for Saga Travel Insurance today – and don’t forget to add your Hire Car Excess Waiver Insurance too.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.