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How to rent & drive a car in Barbados

February 8, 2017 0
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Do you consider traveling to Barbados this year? Whether it is a short city break or a much long holiday, renting a car in Barbados gives your days off the flexibility to match your vacation spirit.

visit barbados by car

Source: Google

You will have four wheels of freedom to go where your fancy may take you, stress-free and carefree, and it is the ultimate way to experience all that Barbados has to offer!

Here we will tell you everything you need to know about how to rent a car in Barbados, what are your options and how to get the most of your trip in terms of money and safety!

Why visit Barbados?

Barbados is an excellent place for lovers of scenery. There are excellent beaches and bays to explore, high cliffs to just sit back and unwind and lush green tropical plantations that awaits you in Barbados. Renting a car increases your flexibility, so you’ll have no time constraints, other than the ones you make on yourself.

Renting a car increases your flexibility, so you’ll have no time constraints, other than the ones you make on yourself.

what to do in barbados

source: Google

Take your time to discover all the beautiful hidden nooks of Barbados. Here are some quick suggestions you can use when planning your trip:

  • Visit Bathsheba, an ideal vacation place. There, you can see the resort for Barbadians long before this island became a tourist destination. 
  • Visit the ragged point lighthouse. This is the last functioning major lighthouse in Barbados. Here you’ll see people diving into the water that is 200 feet deep.
  • Swim in the calm blue waters on the West Coast in the morning.
  • Surf the Eastern shoreline, then go for a leisurely decadent lunch at one of the many cosmopolitan restaurants

The island provides you with some of the best and most scenic and serene parts of a Caribbean island. It’s not mountainous, so you can go around Barbados in one day in your hire car.

Should you hire a car when visiting Barbados?

The advantages of having a rental vehicle at your disposal whilst on holiday in this Caribbean paradise far outweighs the disadvantages. Barbados may be considered a small island, but it does have over 1475 km of paved roadways to explore.

Many who come to Barbados for the first time totally underestimate what the island has to offer and often they can’t wait to come back again to explore further.

how is driving in barbados

Source: Google

If you like exploring, then a rental car is a must. We encourage you to take an entire day for your scenic drive as it will require around 4 to 6 hours to drive around the entire island. This will allow you to really experience the relaxing and beautiful coastline drive.

What type of car should you rent in Barbados

If you want to enjoy the sights, feel the summer breeze touching your face and experience soft relaxing Caribbean beats sounds coming through your speakers, try a Mini Moke!

The Mini Moke is a fun car, perfect if you arrive during the summer and love the feel of wind on your face. Take the top down and enjoy the fresh air, the wonderful scenery and let all your cares and worries get blown away. Mini Moke storage space is limited, therefore, leave large backpacks at your hotel room and pack only the necessities for the day.

rent a mini moke in barbados

source: Google

The moke is small and practical. It’s a popular choice among honeymooners and doesn’t guzzle petrol!

 

What you need to know before renting a car in Barbados

Every country has its own rules and regulations. When it comes to car rental, you will find that requirements differ as well. 

We compiled a list of requirements that teach you all about car hire. Make sure you meet all of them as vehicle hire in Barbados opens up the whole beautiful island for you to explore, and will also give you the independence to enjoy your time here.

In Barbados, you can easily recognize a hire car, they all have an  ‘H’ on their license plating.

How old should you be to hire a car in Barbados?

The minimum age at which you can hire a car in Barbados is 21 years. If you are 25 or younger, your automobile insurance will be more expensive.

On the other hand, if you want to rent a vehicle in Barbados but are 70 years of age or older, you must first obtain a medical certificate issued by a doctor based in Barbados.

how old to hire a car in barbados

Driving Age Restrictions

At Drive Barbados, we offer reliable car rental services to both senior drivers and young motorist. We don’t think age should be a limitation on renting cars, although we do abide by the minimum 21 years requirement and have an 80 years rental age cap. Whether you are over 70 or under 25, we would be happy to help you hire a car in Barbados.

The Barbados Licensing Authority requires all motorists to be over the age of 21 years and you must have held your license for at least 1 year.  

Hiring a car in Barbados if you are 25 years or younger

The younger you are and the less driving experience you have, the more you’ll have to pay on insurance policy. The collision damage waiver (CDW) will be quite high, easily surpassing $1,000, and the collision excess deposit will also increase.

Also, keep in mind that you need a driving experience of at least 2 years to rent a car and that some companies require 5 years.

Hiring a car In Barbados if you are 70+ years old

If you are 70+ years old and want to obtain a visitors driver’s permit in Barbados, bring a valid driver’s license issued in your country and contact your car rental company. They should be able to help you obtain your medical certificate by putting you in touch with a qualified local doctor.

The cost of the examination varies depending on the doctor, but you can expect to pay around $40. The medical examination is straightforward and takes only a short time to complete. Your eyesight will be checked, as well as your heart and blood pressure. Your capacity to drive may also be assessed, using simple tests in the consulting room.

 

What documents do you need to drive in Barbados?

In order to rent a vehicle in Barbados, you’ll need to have a valid driver’s license from your country of origin and a valid credit or debit card under your name. This is a general requirement at most rental companies. However, some might still ask you to make a cash deposit instead of using your card.

You may not have been aware, but it is mandatory to have a locally issued driving permit to be able to legally drive in Barbados if you are not a permanent resident.

However, there is no need to panic, you can obtain a driver’s permit from an approved Barbados car hire agency or from the Barbados Licensing Authority Offices.The cost is $5.00 for two months or $50.00 for a full year.

Fees for a Driving Permit in Barbados

The permits are not expensive, especially if you are just staying for a few weeks. Your driving license must be valid during your travel period.

  • Visitor’s Driving Permit – $5 fee for a visitor’s driving permit valid for two months
  • Visitor’s Driving Permit – $50 fee for a visitor’s driver’s license valid for up to one year.
  • Visitor’s Driving Permit – $10.00 BDS for less than two months.
  • Visitor’s Driving Permit – $100.00 BDS for a maximum of one year.

how to get a permit in Barbados?

You may already be on our island looking for offices for driver licensing authority in Barbados, or, you may be on your way to Barbados and want to find out how to obtain driver license permit for your next holiday.

where to get Barbados drivers permit

The Barbados Licensing Authority has offices at:

  • The Pine, St. Michael – Tel: 4364920
  • Oistins, Christ Church – Tel: 4282960
  • Speightstown, St. Peter – Tel: 4320119

The offices are open Monday to Friday from 8.30 am to 3.00 pm. For the whole list of Licensing Authority Offices at many different locations, read more here.

 

Rental car costs in Barbados

Renting a car in Barbados can get quite expensive for new holidaymakers to the island, but, you can also find very affordable ways to hire a vehicle while you are holidaying in Barbados.

Here’s what to consider before signing any leasing documents.

How much doest it cost to rent from a local company in Barbados

Hiring a car in Barbados can be a costly experience if you don’t do your homework properly. However, you can make sure you get the most affordable deal possible if you do some checking around and understand why prices vary so much around here.

The Base Price and Mandatory Taxes

Renting companies always list the basic rate in their price breakdown, but not many are aware that it’s a price you don’t actually pay in the end. The base amount doesn’t contain any hiring options, fees or taxes and appears with the sole purpose of showcasing how much the company actually takes.

The base rate is followed by taxes and additional charges, which are subsequently included to the invoice. These are the fees which cannot be avoided and which you are obliged to pay.

How do car hire prices vary in Barbados

Seasonal Factors

Because it lies so close to the Equator, Barbados does not have four seasons like many other countries. Instead, it has the ‘dry season’ which lasts from December to May, and the ‘rainy season’ from June to November. December to May is known as winter, and June to December as summer, and unlike many other countries, the winter is the holiday season when the climate is at its most favorable.

Rates are based on the following dates:

  • High Rate 15th December – 15th April
  • High Rate 15th July – 15th August for the Crop Over Festival
  • Low Rate 16th April – 14th December excluding Crop Over Festival Dates

So while at home, you might find car rental costs lower in the winter period.

A car hired in the winter season (which includes rental costs, CDW coverage, and taxes) can be as low of as:

  • Economy hatchback cars (Suzuki swift, Toyota Yaris or similar) – between $400 – $500 per week
  • For a mid-size sedan car – (Toyota Yaris sedan or similar) – between $500 – $600 per week

A car hired in the summer time (drivers may be able to negotiate a better deal)

  • A discount of between 10 and 20 percent off the usual winter seasonal rate per week.
car hire prices variations in barbados

source: Google

Tip: Daily rentals can be very expensive.

  • as much as $70 – $100 per day for an economy car instead of $400 to $500 per week in the peak winter periods

Type of rental car

The cost of car hire will depend on the size of vehicle and model you want. Bigger and more luxurious ones will cost significantly more than their regular counterparts. Economy hatchback and mini moke rentals are very popular in Barbados.

As a general rule of thumb, the smaller the vehicle the lower the rental price.

Sizes are usually graded along the following lines.

Rental Duration

The duration of your lease will also influence the price. Depending on the holiday period, monthly car rental rates can be reduced by up to 20 – 30%.

Promotional Discounts

While most companies will increase their prices during the peak season. However, some car rental companies like Drive Barbados, offer discounts throughout the year, such as free Barbados driving license, ¼ of petrol at NO cost and an international calling card worth US $5.

Pre-paid car rentals

Certain companies may offer discounts for pre-paid auto rental. However, these are non-refundable. If you cancel your trip, find a better deal or change your mind about the vehicle, you will be stuck with the charges.

 

Rental car taxes: additional features

There are many charges that may affect your costs. The secret to saving money on car rental is to buy the basic package and read extra charges as extra features. Educating yourself on the top extra charges that Barbados vehicle hire companies charge will be in your advantage.

The key to a happy transaction is to figure out what extra expenditure you are likely to come across, and how you can still have a great rental experience without paying for them.

car rental additional featured

source: Google

Be aware of the following extra cost:

  • Compulsory Barbados Visitors Driver’s Permit – cost US $5.00 per hirer
  • Additional drivers – $20 – $25 per week per driver
  • Pickup at airport – $5 or as much as $30
  • GPS satellite navigation – $25 – $35 per week
  • Child seat or stroller – $30 – $40 per week for
  • Gasoline charges – average of $25 – $35
  • CDW Insurance Coverage 
  • Taxes (VAT etc.) – Government taxes also add to the cost of renting a car in Barbados. Unlike the rental fees, taxes tend not to change very often, however, they do affect the final price.

 

How to save money on your rental 

If you come in prepared, you can still enjoy the convenience of having a rental car, without racking up unexpected fees. Simply following the rules and knowing what the extra charges can be will protect you from them.

  • Hire a car in advance, to enjoy early booking discounts.
  • Keep in mind that long-term is cheaper than 1-day rentals pro rata. 
  • If you choose to cancel your rental on the same day of leasing, you will be charged $100.00!
  • Save a few dollars by bringing your own travel accessories and by using the free map which is provided upon arrival. For the extra items in your rental package (such as GPS navigation and baby seats), you’ll need to pay 17.5% on Government VAT charges.
  • Return your car on time or risk late return fees. An additional fee of $15.00 must be paid if the car will be returned before 8.30 AM and after 4:00 PM. In case of a late restitution bear in mind that an hourly fee of $13.00 will be applied!
  • Remember the airport parking cost on return/drop off
  • One way rental can be charged more. Check with the rental car company! 
  • Be aware of the unexpected charges in the form of payments for supposed damage, speeding tickets, parking fines, etc. Note and photograph any scratch or damage and make sure it won’t show up on your bill afterward. 

How to avoid paying extras on Barbados car rental

It gets hot in Barbados! You’ll most likely want to soak up all of the rays they can, but this could lead to sunburn and heatstroke. If you are visiting from a country with a cooler climate, make sure that your vehicle has working air conditioning. If you opt for a convertible Mini Moke, avoid the temptation of leaving the roof down when the sun is at its hottest.

 

Car rental insurance in Barbados

Insurance can be a major area of confusion for travelers. Before signing on the dotted line of any vehicle insurance form, you have to examine the affordable options available. To hire and benefit of insurance in Barbados, you need a credit or debit card.

Keep in mind that select credit card companies, such as American Express provide a form of car hire insurance, so make sure you know exactly what it covers before the rental company charges you extra.

Rental Protection and Insurance

Leased cars are widely insured with the rate of hire. However, in case of an accident or damage caused to the vehicle, up to $2,000.00 can be deducted.

To avoid this preposterous fee, one can optionally purchase an additional Excess Waiver, also known as Extra Protection, which can reduce the deductible fee to $125.00.

In case of an accident, the Excess Waiver will be completely discharged and must be reacquired for the rest of the rental.

CDW Insurance and Excess Amounts

CDW is also known as Collision Damage Waiver and represents the amount of money the driver must pay in case of an accident. The CDW allows drivers a measure of insurance that the rental company will not charge over a certain amount in the event of an accident.

The deductible amount for this insurance ranges between $1,000 and $1,750. This is not the same as automobile insurance. Rather, it allows the driver to use the car rental company’s auto insurance as if it were their own transportation.

Security Deposit Fee

Another possible scenario is paying a $600.00 Security Deposit upon hiring, which will be returned to the renter if everything is in order and no damage done to the vehicle.

This supplement does not include damage to the tires, rims or the interior of the car. Although flat tires are fixed for free, those beyond repair will be charged for.

Don’t forget to read your policy and credit card member agreement thoroughly, to know beforehand what you already have covered and what extra additions you need to buy.

Since many local companies fail to state insurance clauses clearly, I highly recommend you ask all your questions regarding the rental terms and conditions before signing on the dotted line.

How to avoid rental insurance pitfalls

Read the small print! That may sound like something you don’t have time to do when hiring a car, but that’s truly important, especially when car rental insurance is concerned.

Why? Because the small print tells you the truth, not just the bits that make everything sound like a good deal.

Remember, if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Read the small lines and discover the pitfalls. This way, you will know how to avoid the traps and safely ensure you have the right vehicle rental insurance cover for the right price. Here is a small list of things you should double check while reading the small lines:

  • You may have offers of free insurance from your bank or other financial institutes. More often than not, you will find that you have some form of holiday insurance cover, but it won’t cover you for vehicle hire.
  • It is possible that your credit card company or bank have already offered you CDW insurance, or collision damage waiver insurance that will cover you for this first US$1,750. Double check if you are covered for Barbados.
  • You may have automobile insurance which covers you for driving any vehicle at home. However, experience tells us that that kind of insurance will not cover for driving a rental car abroad.
  • You may have taken out a very comprehensive holiday insurance policy to cover everything when traveling in a foreign country. However, holiday insurance, even for injury while in a vehicle, will not cover you for driving a hire car.

 

How does credit card rental insurance work In Barbados

When you agree to hire a car in Barbados, you are required to provide all your credit card details, so that the Barbados hire car company will be able to receive payment for the renting of the vehicle. However, providing your details allows the hire company to take additional payments in the event you have been involved in an accident.

However, providing your details allows the hire company to take additional payments in the event you have been involved in an accident.

credit card car rental insurance

In that unfortunate event, the hire company has the right to use your credit card to make good any balance between the amount of insurance cover you have on your car for lease and the actual cost of repairs.

Anyways, the rental company cannot simply decide how much you have to pay and help themselves, it has to be a legally justified amount. In addition, your credit card can be used to make payment in instances where you have not informed the rental company of your actions

Here are some instances where the car company has the right to take payments using your credit card:

  • Exceeding the agreed mileage allowance
  • Payment for parking fines acquired while the vehicle was in your possession
  • Payment of fines relating to traffic infringements (speeding, etc.)
  • Undisclosed damage to the car – including the interior
  • Damage to tires (not wear and tear but damage caused by hitting a curb, etc.)
  • Late return of vehicle

 

Driving Rules and Regulations in Barbados

When hiring a car in Barbados, it’s important to know the road rules and regulations, as they will most likely be different to those that you are used to. Visitors are encouraged to purchase a copy of the Highway Code Booklet to familiarize themselves with the rules of driving in Barbados. This can be obtained from any of The Barbados Licensing Authority locations.

Most of the roads are in very good condition but watch out for potholes when you get out into the countryside.

How is driving around Barbados?

Barbados provides you with some of the best and most scenic and serene parts of a Caribbean island. It is not mountainous, so you can go around Barbados in one day in your hire car.

how is driving in barbados

source: Google

Follow our advice and you’ll drive hassle-free in the city:

  • Drive on the left-hand side of the road.
  • Always give way to the motor vehicles approaching from the right of you, on a roundabout.
  • Wear the seat belts. It’s mandatory for both driver and passengers.
  • Children under 5 years old must be seated in a suitable child seat.  Seats for children can be rented when you hire a car from some car rental companies.
  • Don’t use your mobile phone when driving unless it is of the hands-free variety.
  • Use headlamps between 18:30 hrs. – 05:00 hrs from January to April, 19:00 hrs. – 05:00 hrs. From May to August and between 18:00 hrs. – 05:00 hrs. From September to December.
  • If a driver flashes his headlights at you at an intersection this means that you can go ahead.
  • If a driver of a car honks their horn it is usually to say “hi” or a polite form of “thank you” for giving way.

Speed limit regulations

Speed limits vary on different roadways, so make sure you check that you are following the correct speed limit.  

Speed limits are signed in kilometers per hour and never in miles per hour. The usual speed limits for motor vehicles are:

  • 80 km/hr. on main highways
  • 40 km/hr. in City/Bridgetown
  • 60 km/hr. in rural areas

Safety camera warning devices have limited usage as there are no fixed speed cameras and you’ll rarely discover any mobile speed traps.

Drink driving laws in Barbados

This will most likely surprise you, but there is no legal alcohol limit for driving. However, it is highly advisable that you do not drink and drive.

Driving while under the influence of alcohol is strictly discouraged by our experience as a car hire company. Just as you wouldn’t drink and drive in your home country, Barbados should be no exception.

Parking in Barbados

There are plenty designated parking areas (look for the “P” parking sign) that are well lit and maintained, so would be the safest place to park your vehicle.

Make sure you don’t park your car in a “No Parking” zone, as you will be fined. There are many parking locations such as outdoor parking lots and indoor parking garages in Bridgetown, where a minimal fee will be charged.

On-street parking is not recommended as the parking spots are usually very small and the parking laws are enforced.

If you consider airport parking, you should note that rental companies based at GAIA Airport are, on average, 30% more expensive than local firms due to the high costs of operating out of the airport.

Airport parking fee

The minimum stay fee is $0.50 for half an hour, and $0.50 per half hour thereafter. However, here is a capped limit of $6.00 per day.

The airport parking facilities have 24-hour security which greatly eliminates the risk of theft and/or damage to your vehicle, whether is a rental car or your own personal transportation.

Parking options

King George Memorial Park

– A 10 minutes’ drive from the airport, is a refreshing alternative. There is free parking for visitors, so if you’re quite early for your departure it’s a beautiful spot to relax before your flight.

– Location: Jezreel, Work Hall,

– Positioned in St. Philip Parish, 1.9 miles north of Diamond Valley

Fines in Barbados

Driving rules are kinda lax in Barbados. Unless you are doing something extremely dangerous, it’s unlikely to be stopped. On the rare occasion when that happens though, a ticket will be issued and you need to pay it at the nearest police station.

 

Fuel options & costs

There are three possibilities when it comes to the fuel options of rental cars in Barbados.

  • You can purchase a full tank at the time of delivery and return it empty
  • If you don’t deliver the automobile with a full tank, you’ll have to pay for its complete refill, along with a $12.50 fee administration charge
  • You can pay a fixed price of $30.00 upon delivery for a quarter tank of gas and return the rental empty

The price of 95 octane unleaded petrol is $1.48. You’ll find many petrol stations, especially as the island is only 21 miles long.

The option you choose is up to you and the rental company’s policy, so make sure to talk it through with them!

 

Is it safe to rent a car in Barbados?

One of the best things about planning your vacation in Barbados is the safe scenic place with sightseeing opportunities for both young and old visitors, with friendly locals and clean ocean breeze that’s is always near. Follow our tips and tricks and make sure you stay safe while visiting.

The most pressing danger is night driving. Many roads do not have pavements, so pedestrians usually walk on the side of the road where they’re difficult to see. Roads are generally quite narrow and buses and vans go much closer and faster than you might expect.

is it safe driving in barbados

source: Google

Because of the potential for car theft, you should never leave valuables in an unattended vehicle and always park in well-lit areas. You are advised to never pick up hitchhikers.

Avoid driving your vehicle during the peak rush hours, from 6:30 to 8:30 am and from 4:30 to 5:30 pm during weekdays.

What should you do in case of an accident in Barbados

If you have an accident while driving, stay safe by calling the rental car company right away and do not accept responsibility for the accident, even if you are clearly at fault.

These are the telephone numbers you should keep close while traveling in Barbados:

  • Police – 211
  • Ambulance – 511
  • Fire Service – 311

Some people leave everything until the last minute. Some do it because they are forgetful, some do it because they think they will get a better deal by just turning up on the day.

Whatever might be your reasons, this is an easy way to start your vacation badly. Make sure you book in advance, follow our advice and have fun and safe trip while you get to know the beautiful Barbados!

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