Renting an RV with your family or friends can make for a truly memorable summer vacation. But what does the law say about who can drive an RV? And will you need a special license?
These questions are worth paying attention to before you make your RV reservation, especially if you’re a young driver and/or if you’re looking to rent a particularly large RV. College students and those in their early 20s may need to recruit an older friend for the trip, while travelers interested in larger models may need to obtain proper licensing.
No matter what your situation is, though, it’s always in your best interest to carefully read the terms and conditions of an RV rental agreement before you sign on the dotted line. It never hurts to be prepared, and if worse comes to worse with a maintenance problem or fender bender, it’s in your best interest to have followed all of the companies’ rules and regulations.
By proactively searching for information, you’ve already empowered yourself to make the best rental decision. Read on to learn more about RV rental requirements, from age requirements to license requirements to insurance.
How Old Do You Have to be to Drive an RV?
In most cases, RV rental companies require drivers to be at least 21 years old in order to drive their RVs. There’s good reason for that: Driving a motorhome can be difficult for even the most experienced drivers, and it’s best left to a responsible adult with several years of practice under his or her belt. In some areas, certain dealerships require that drivers be even older, setting a 25-and-up rule.
But don’t be discouraged if you’re trying to figure out how to rent an RV under 25 — it might cost a little more, but in most parts of the country, it’s totally doable. Your best bet is to call different RV rental companies in your area to ask for their policy regarding age. Local companies may be more flexible than the larger dealerships, but their requirements often aren’t spelled out online, so it’s best to ask directly. If it’s not already in your contract, make sure to get the agreement in writing before you hit the road.
RV Rental Age Requirement
To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of age requirements from several RV dealerships and companies across the continental U.S. By the time you read this, these requirements may have changed, so always double check before making a reservation. That said, here are a few tidbits to get you started:
Best Time RV: Best Time requires all drivers to be 25 years or older. Those under 21 will have to look elsewhere.
Cruise America: Cruise America typically rents only to those 25 years of age and older, but authorized drivers who are between 21 and 24 can also rent an RV for an extra $25 per day. You’ll need to call ahead to see if you qualify for the exception.
El Monte RV Rentals: El Monte is one dealership that generally allows for RV rental under 25, though drivers must be at least 21 years old. The policy applies to most, but not all, locations — in some areas, there is a 25-and-up provision.
Escape Campervans: Escape has a minimum age requirement of just 21 years old, and no extra fees apply for drivers under 25.
General RV Center: General rents only to drivers 25 years or older, so those between 21 and 24 should find another option.
Jucy USA: Jucy rents to drivers starting at age 21, although some locations may require renters to be older. Call ahead to double check before making a reservation.
Road Bear RV: Road Bear typically requires drivers to be at least 25, but the company does make exceptions for some drivers between 21 and 24 years old. Prior authorization is required, so you’ll need to call ahead to negotiate directly with the dealership. Road Bear also stipulates a maximum age of 79, so retirees and senior drivers will need to make other accommodations.
RVShare: In most cases, drivers must be 25 years or older to rent from this peer-to-peer rental site. But because the model allows RV owners to rent directly to consumers, it’s possible there may be some wiggle room, so if you see a listing you like, check with the owner for more information.
RV Rental License Requirements
Onto the license requirements: Do you need a CDL to drive a RV? In almost all instances, you don’t need a commercial drivers license or any other special license, for that matter. But if you’re looking to rent a motorhome that will be over 26,000 pounds (like a larger Class A RV) you may need to obtain a special license in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Washington D.C., and Wyoming. Indiana and Wisconsin require a commercial drivers license for RVs over 45,000 pounds. These rules and regulations tend to change over the years, so be sure to double check with your state’s department of motor vehicles or your local RV rental company before you book your trip.
Non U.S. residents can also rent an RV from most rental companies, provided they bring their foreign drivers license and passport. It might also help to apply for an international drivers permit, which essentially honors your home country’s drivers license in more than 175 countries across the world.
RV Insurance Requirements
Before you leave on your trip, you should also start thinking about RV rental insurance requirements. In most cases, you can check with your regular car insurance company to either obtain special coverage or to verify if your policy already covers an RV rental. Some RV rental companies can also get you set up with special insurance for the duration of your trip. Whichever option you choose, make sure that you have coverage. A premium is a small price to pay for peace of mind while you’re out on the road.
You may also want to ask if there are any requirements or fees associated with having an extra driver. If you’ll be traveling great distances, you might find that it’s worth the extra cost.
As a rule of thumb, RV rental requirements vary widely from state to state and dealership to dealership. When in doubt, call ahead — it’s always smart to figure it out before you start planning.