I'm out on the border, on the border
December 26, 2011 6:00 PM   Subscribe

Renting a car in BC to drive to WA state - Why can't I? How could I?

I would like to rent a SUV with winter tires so I can drive to WA state and cross-country ski in the Methow near Winthrop WA.

This trip would entail driving in the winter, a few months from now: over mountain passes, using windy roads, crossing an international border mid-province, then down a highway and a 2-lane highway to my final destination in Mazama in North-Central Washington.

Yes, crossing an international border. The buck stops there...

Any rental agency here in Vancouver BC will rent me a car - but admitting to plans for crossing the border automatically slams the door on the transaction. I called Budget and a few others and heard the same thing: no.

Do you know of any agencies that will allow this? Why can my friends rent a car at SeaTac and come up to Vancouver BC for a visit, but I cannot do the same from my province to visit WA? Who can I call that would allow this? Should I visit the rental franchises one by one to find one that allows this, or is it a unilateral NO across British Columbia?

If you rented a car in BC and went to visit your friends in the friendly state next door, I would like to hear from you - and find out who you rented from. Thank you in advance!!
posted by seawallrunner to Travel & Transportation around Rossland, WA (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I regularly do this. I don't know why you're hitting a problem. But I usually rent from the airport locations.
posted by blue_wardrobe at 6:31 PM on December 26, 2011

Best answer: (Hertz and Enterprise.)
posted by blue_wardrobe at 6:32 PM on December 26, 2011

Best answer: I rented a car from Hertz at Vancouver airport to drive down to Oregon. They didn't have a problem with that, but it was about 8 years ago.
posted by ginky at 6:34 PM on December 26, 2011

Best answer: Is this helpful--you might try an airport--there are restrictions depending on your residency and destination. Also tied up with auto insurance coverage. I would not do it without telling the rental company unless you have a written statement from your insurer that they will cover the car in both countries even if the auto rental company does not allow cross border use. I would guess that violating the terms of rental agreement would nullify both the rental companies insurance and your insurance. Have you considered using separate rentals originating in the respective countries.
posted by rmhsinc at 6:39 PM on December 26, 2011

Best answer: I too have had the experience that renting a car from the airport locations usually have fewer travel restrictions.
posted by gjc at 6:59 PM on December 26, 2011

Response by poster: hmmm, seems like a visit to YVR is in order.
Indeed, I will be renting from Vancouver, and returning the car to Vancouver.
Thank you for the reassurance and the links!
posted by seawallrunner at 7:13 PM on December 26, 2011

I rented from Discount Car Rental when I lived in Vancouver and drove it down to Washington. They had no problems with that at all. Downtown location, too. ...That said, I just went to their site and they seem to have gotten rid of the location I used. They have some others, so they may be worth a try.

Since moving to Ontario, I rent cars from Avis all the time and take them to Michigan and New York; their policies explicitly allow this. Again, I don't use airport locations. Might be worth a shot.
posted by criacow at 7:47 PM on December 26, 2011

I did this last year going the other direction (from the Seattle airport up to Vancouver) from Budget, and nobody batted an eye. And I was under 25 at the time!
posted by heyforfour at 7:10 AM on December 27, 2011

Response by poster: heyforfour - indeed ! which makes the restrictions on going the other way (Canadian citizen renting Canadian registered car at a Canadian rental outlet, returning to Canada and to the same rental outlet) so baffling.

Thank you all for your inputs and insights! I will take the skytrain to the YVR airport and investigate the car rental situation in person.
posted by seawallrunner at 1:09 PM on December 27, 2011

Best answer: seawallrunner, i've rented a car to go to Washington on two separate occasions. once i rented from Budget (the location on W. Georgia, near the library) for a personal trip, and once i rented from Dollar/Thrifty (on Seymour, near Waterfront Station) for a work trip. both times i was asked if i was driving to WA, and both times i was honest and said yes, and it wasn't a problem.

no idea why you're getting the run around, but i don't think you have to go to YVR if it's out of your way. good luck!
posted by gursky at 2:03 PM on December 27, 2011

Best answer: I've rented twice from Enterprise (the non-airport Abbotsford office) and part of the contract was that BC (maybe all of Canada) and Washington were fine, but anywhere else is the States was prohibited (so was taking a dog in the car, but we don't need to tell them about that).
posted by deborah at 1:59 AM on December 28, 2011

Response by poster: thank you all for your comments and suggestions. As the trip draws near, I am carpooling with a friend. Really appreciate your time and advice on this gnarly question.
posted by seawallrunner at 8:33 PM on January 26, 2012

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