How to Get a Handicapped Rental Car

Three Parts:Select the Car you NeedCall Car Rental CompaniesUse a Wheelchair Van Rental Agency

Handicapped accessible travel arrangements must be made well in advance. People who need to rent a car with hand controls or wheelchair access should determine the type of vehicle they need before calling rental car companies. Find out how to get a handicapped rental car.

Part 1
Select the Car you Need

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    Determine what type of car is necessary for the needs of the handicapped person who will be using the car. For example, some cars have hand controls but no wheelchair access for passengers.
    • Decide if the disabled person will be driving or requiring a surrogate driver. If you need a rental car without wheelchair access or a swivel seat and there is a surrogate driver, the rental car company is likely to rent you a regular car and waive any driver fees by special arrangement.
    • Determine if you need wheelchair access. People with wheelchairs may need a transfer board and an easy access bus. Vans and mini-buses are generally the only vehicles that come with wheelchair access, and there is very limited availability at major rental car companies.
    • If the handicapped person is trained in driving with hand controls, rental car companies usually carry a limited number of vehicles that use left or right hand controls. You should also ask about a panoramic mirror for easier views and a spinner knob that helps the driver to control the wheel with a single knob.
    • Determine if any handicapped drivers or passengers need a swivel seat to get in and out of the vehicle. These are often removable and available by request.

Part 2
Call Car Rental Companies

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    Look up the airport or location where you will be arriving. Most airport websites have a list of the car rental companies that are available to its patrons.
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    Call rental car companies, like Avis, Hertz and Enterprise at least 48 hours before you arrive. You will need to call the company directly, instead of using travel aggregate sites like Expedia, Travelocity or Hotwire.
    • In busy airports and during vacation or high-season travel times you should call 1 to 3 months in advance to reserve your handicapped rental car or van.
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    Tell the customer service agent what equipment you will require in your rental vehicle.
    • You do not need to explain all the details of the person's disability, merely what you will need in order to rent from the company.
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    Ask what proof of disability is required upon check in. Most rental car agencies will require you to bring the driver's license as proof of age and the ability to drive.
    • A disabled person who is over the age of 25 can rent a car with a surrogate driver without a driver's license. The surrogate driver will need to be over the age of 25 with a valid driver's license.
    • Ask if your car or van may has a handicapped accessible license plate. If not, you may need to bring your dashboard disability sticker.
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    Call additional rental car agencies in the area if you are unable to find a van or car for the dates you are traveling.
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    Ask what services the rental car agency will provide for pick up and drop off at an airport. Before you book, it is important to ensure they will be able to transport you to and from the rental car location in a handicapped accessible shuttle or van.

Part 3
Use a Wheelchair Van Rental Agency

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    Decide if a rental car company will provide what you need in a wheelchair accessible vehicle. If not, you can call a wheelchair accessible van rental agency.
    • Accessible Vans of America, Wheelchair Getaways, Wheelchair Vans and Wheelers rent handicapped accessible vans exclusively from their websites. Specify your location and travel dates to see what availability they have.
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    Call to speak to a customer service representative if you have any questions. You should be clear about what services will be provided, such as a shuttle, before you place the reservations.
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    Reserve your wheelchair accessible van or car with a credit card. Few rental car companies will charge you in advance; however, they will require a credit card in case of a late cancellation.


  • Call a Centers for Independent Living in your travel destination, if you are having trouble finding a handicapped rental car. They can direct you to other services that are available to disabled out of town visitors.
  • If the area where you are traveling does not have any rental car options for handicapped travelers, you may need to inquire about using a handicapped airport shuttle. Many hotels provide this service, or you can book a handicapped accessible cab or shuttle bus.

Things You'll Need

  • Phone
  • Driver's license
  • Credit card
  • Handicap sticker or placard
  • Surrogate driver

Article Info

Categories: Driving Basics