How to Rent a Vehicle in Jamaica
If you are visiting Jamaica and want to explore the island at your own pace, you will need to learn how to rent a vehicle in Jamaica.
It’s pretty easy to rent a reliable vehicle and driving on your own in Jamaica, isn’t as daunting as you may think.
The infrastructure is getter better and better. With the main hotspots of the island getting ‘connected’ with modern highways, motorways and toll roads. So traversing the island is faster and more convenient. Plus, you will see some awesome scenery on these motorways!
With GPS mapping systems, such as Google Maps, you never need to get lost again. So it is easier and safer to confidently go it alone and start exploring the island on your own agenda.
Requirements for Renting a Vehicle in Jamaica
To be eligible to rent a vehicle in Jamaica you need to meet certain criteria.
Most rental companies have similar stipulations, but it is always best to check the individual companies policies before you turn up.
- Driving licence: You must of held a full driving licence, for at least 1 year – up to 3 years for some companies. You MUST have the (original) driving licence with you.
- Age Limit: 23 – 75 years old (some companies allow drivers aged 21+; expect higher premiums).
- Payment: Usually payment is required by credit card. Expect an additional cover charge / deposit to be ‘held’ on the card, in case of incidents of damage and so on.
- Time Limit: A minimum of 24 hours rental is usual. Although, you can return the vehicle prior to this is you wish (do not expect a partial refund!)
- Insurance: Unless your credit card covers you for vehicle rentals in Jamaica, you will need to pay an additional fee for insurance coverage.
Vehicle Rental Companies Operating in Jamaica
There is a good selection of both local and international vehicle rental companies operating in Jamaica.
Many of which have offices conveniently located at Jamaica’s two main airports, Norman Manley International Airport (Kingston) and Donald Sangster International Airport (Montego Bay).
If you are located somewhere else on the island, some companies will be willing to deliver and collect a vehicle for you, depending on where you are based; this will attract an additional fee.
Most of the vehicle companies have online booking facilities, where you can reserve your vehicle in advance and collect it straight after landing in Jamaica.
This is a great way to ensure the type of vehicle you require is available and ready and waiting for your arrival.
You will find local and international vehicle rental companies operating in Jamaica, such as:
- Island Car Rental ( 100% Jamaican owned ~ operating since 1973 )
- Avis (has a branch in Ocho Rios, as well as Montego Bay / Kingston)
PLEASE NOTE: During busy periods, such as holidays and whilst big events are taking place (Dream Weekend, BRT Weekend, concerts / shows) vehicle rental companies get booked up fast.
To avoid disappointment, Book Ahead of Time!
The Cost of Renting a Vehicle in Jamaica
The cost of renting a vehicle in Jamaica varies, depending on the type of vehicle, the length of the rental and whether you need additional add-ons.
Most vehicle rental companies offer discounts for longer rental periods, such a week, or month.
There is a wide selection of rental vehicles available in Jamaica, from small compact cars, to SUV’s, mini-buses and luxury vehicles. If you intend to do a lot of driving in rural areas, you may be more comfortable in a 4×4 type vehicle.
Every vehicle rental company in Jamaica offers a different selection of vehicles, so check the individual companies fleet.
Example of available vehicles and rates for renting in Jamaica (source: Island Rentals, February 2019):
- Suzuki Swift Dzire: US$32.00 daily, US$195.00 weekly
- Toyota Yaris: US$33.00 daily, US$200.00 weekly
- Toyota Corolla: US$38.00 daily, US$230.00 weekly
- Suzuki Grand Vitara: US$58.00 daily, US$350.00 weekly
- Hyundai H1: US$77.00 daily, US$465.00 weekly
- Toyota Camry / Honda Accord: US$82.00 daily, US$495.00 weekly
- Toyota Hiace: US$84.00 daily, US$505.00 weekly
- Mitsubishi Outlander: US$88.00 daily, US$530.00 weekly
- Toyota Fortuna / Mitsubishi Pajero: US$122.00 daily, US$730.00 weekly
PLEASE NOTE: As with most vehicle rental (websites) companies in Jamaica, these rates are NOT the final rate you will pay for the vehicle each day.
These rates do NOT include the insurance coverage fees for the vehicle and other add-ons, such as, requesting a child / baby carrier and GPS. Which attract additional costs.
Informally Renting a Vehicle in Jamaica
There are persons in Jamaica who rent vehicles on an informal basis for around JA$5,000 a day, usually on a ‘referral’ basis. Although it may be tempting to pursue a cheaper price for vehicle rental, it is a gamble to do so!
First and foremost, it is unlikely that the owner of the vehicle has declared the vehicle as a rental car to their insurance company. Therefore, if an accident occurred and it was discovered that the car was rented, the insurance policy will be null and void.
Meaning you will have to deal with the consequences directly with the owner of the vehicle.
Secondly, informal rental vehicles come in MANY different states of repair and road worthiness. Yes you may get a beautiful shiny vehicle to drive.
But don’t be surprised if you drive off only to discover sometime later on your journey that, the horn doesn’t work, the battery doesn’t charge properly, not all the windows / doors open, the tyres / tires need air, the gas / petrol tank is on empty and so on…
In conclusion, I would recommend renting a vehicle from a registered Car Rental company. As not only will the vehicle be fully licenced and insured for rental purposes, it is also likely the vehicle will be in tip top condition and will not leave you stranded somewhere when it develops a fault.
If someone you know lends you a vehicle to use, please note that the Insurance document does NOT have to have your name on it for it to be legal for you to drive. A (photo)copy of the vehicle documents is acceptable for showing to the police if asked.
Road Traffic Act Jamaica 2018
Please be aware that the Jamaican Road Traffic Act was revised and updated in 2018. Overall the new Act is much stricter and includes much heavier penalties and fines for infringements.
Although there are not many ‘new’ rules per se, some have been updated and are worth taking note of.
- you must carry your driving licence with you at all times when driving
- it is the responsibility of the driver to ensure that ALL persons travelling in the vehicle must have seatbelts on
- it is an offence to drive whilst operating a handheld device, such as a mobile phone
- motorcycle riders must be wearing the appropriate headgear
Read the full Jamaican Road Traffic Act 2018
Gas Stations and Vehicle Fuel in Jamaica
Let’s get down to the basics first… (especially for my UK readers!)
Despite Jamaica being a former British colony and driving on the left (same as the UK). There are a lot of Americanism used when talking about and describing vehicles.
For example, in Jamaica, vehicles have a hood and trunk ~ not a bonnet and a boot.
In Jamaica, ‘Petrol’ is called ‘Gas’. Whilst ‘Diesel’ is called, Diesel (lol). Some people refer to diesel as ‘Gas Oil’.
So when you want to refuel your vehicle, you are looking for a ‘Gas Station’ and not a ‘Petrol Station’. Plus, you are putting the fuel in your ‘Gas tank’ not a ‘Petrol tank’.
The Gas (petrol) in Jamaica comes in two varieties, known as ’87’ which is a standard unleaded fuel. Whilst ’90’ which is a premium unleaded fuel, that the majority of newer and high powered vehicles use. Check which gas your vehicle uses, as cross contamination can cause the vehicle to break down!
The Diesel in Jamaica, is also generally offered in standard diesel, and a ‘low sulphur’ variety.
Jamaican Pump Attendants
The Gas Stations in Jamaica usually have a pump attendant, that will dispense your gas for you. So you don’t even have to leave your vehicle!
Just pull up to the appropriate pump, open your gas tank cover (there is usually a lever somewhere), ask for the type and amount (in money) of fuel you require and pay them once you are satisfied the meter reading is the same as the amount of gas you requested.
The pump attendants in Jamaica will even wipe your windscreen if you ask them and can assist you with putting in oil and water and so on.
Yello (Jamaica’s online Yellow Pages) – Gas Stations Operating in Jamaica
Google Maps – Gas Stations in Jamaica
Rental Vehicles and Fuel in Jamaica
Ok, so now we have gone over the basics of Gas Stations and Fuel in Jamaica, you may be wondering what the deal is when you rent a vehicle?
It is usual for the rental vehicle to have at least half a tank of (usually a full tank) gas / petrol on collection. So you can safely set off on an adventure without having to worry about running out!
The amount of gas in the tank will be noted, and the rental company will expect you to refill it to the same level on returning the vehicle. If it isn’t refilled, you will be charged an additional fee for the amount of gas that you have used.
TOP TIP! Before you drive off be sure to ask the vehicle rental company:
- What type of fuel (’87’, ’90’, or diesel) the vehicle uses?
- Which side of the vehicle is the gas tank located?
- Where is the lever located to open the gas tank?
The Jamaica Rent-A-Car Association (JRACA)
If you want further peace of mind, you can check your Jamaican vehicle rental company is registered with the JRACA.
Content copied from the JRACA website: The Jamaica Rent-A-Car Association (JRACA) was incorporated in October 1965, commencing with Fifteen (15) Rent-A-Car operators who saw the need to institutionalize the business.
Since its inception, JRACA has had the support of the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) in the shaping of the Rent-A-Car industry. Being part of a wider tourism product, JRACA is seen as “The Wheels That Drive Tourism” within the sector.
List of JRACA Members: U-Drive Jamaica Rent A Car Association
Ready to do Road?
Need More Assistance with Driving in Jamaica?
Our sister company ‘Live In Jamaica’, offers assistance to returning residents, expats and anyone else that wants to enjoy Jamaica.
Want to explore the open road in Jamaica, but still not convinced about driving yourself?
We will arrange a reliable driver for you. Whether that be for airport transfers, collecting items from the wharf, the odd day trip, or for the duration of your vacation!
Contact ‘Live in Jamaica’ today! – Assistance with moving, living, shipping, construction, relocations, project management and more!
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