Have you tried to take a Swiss hire car to France?
Reports in the international press have claimed that car hire companies in Switzerland are stopping foreigners and tourists from the EU driving Swiss cars over the border to neighbouring countries.
In an internet forum drivers have been describing how they are being turned away from car hire desks on the Swiss side of Geneva airport, which is located on the border with France, once they said they intended to take the car into the neighbouring country.
And yes, the airport really is sandwiched between Switzerland and France.
The problem was picked up by a British newspaper and concerns EU citizens who wish to take a car registered in non-EU country Switzerland, to an EU nation such as France. The issue seems to stem from a change in the law regarding company cars.
According to information from the Swiss Customs Administration website, on May 1, the EU introduced “more stringent regulations for the temporary use within Europe of company vehicles registered in third countries”. It restricts the private use of “foreign company vehicles by persons resident in the EU”, but there is no mention of hire company cars.
One user on the snowheads forum wrote, “I had booked a car with Alamo on the Swiss side of GVA [Geneva airport] last Friday (5th May). The counter staff refused to rent the car (pre-paid) because I had answered yes to the question ‘are you going into France’.” The user added, “The car hire hall was in some chaos (at a quiet time of year) with people trying to transfer reservations to the French side.”
Another commented, “We are hiring a car out of Geneva in two weeks’ time and Holiday Autos told me that it would not be possible to hire from Swiss side and drive to France, so have had to go French side, costs more”.
On the other hand, another forum user posted this update on May 28: “Just managed to get hold of ‘Dollar’, the car hire company and they have assured me that there will be no issue taking their ‘swiss plated’ hire car into France”.
I was given this information on twitter.
Enterprise Holdings (encompassing Alamo, Enterprise and National car hire companies) and Holiday Autos have been contacted by swissinfo.ch to clarify the situation.Information in German on the Alama website about rentals in Switzerland states that “the renter must disclose at the time of rental that they would like to take the vehicle over an international border”. It goes on to say that this is permitted for a number of countries, including Switzerland’s neighbours; France, Austria, Germany and Italy.
Are you an EU citizen who has been told you cannot take a hire car from Switzerland out of the country?
You can contact the author of this article on twitter @jofahy or on Facebookor let us know in the comments below.