A guide to renting a van in the UK

Renting a Van

At one point or another, many of us will require a van rental, it may be for moving to a new house, moving children to university or exploring new places in a campervan.

So, what do you need to consider before renting a van?  Whether you’re moving your heavy furniture to a new house, planning a road trip or setting up a new venture, Budget are here to help, read our top tips for renting a van.

Compare deals

Don’t settle with the first website you come across. There’s more variation in van rental prices than you would expect. Each supplier has their unique bundles and policies, so always check what’s included in the supplier’s deal, since it could be completely different from one company to the next.

Check your driving license

European rules are strict about what van size you can drive. If you passed your test before January 1st, 1997 and are under 70 you can drive a motorhome up to 7500kg on your B+C1 license.

If you passed your test after this date you’ll need to pass a C1 test to drive vans that weight over 3500kg.

Renting a van for leisure

Campervan adventures are a fun and cost-effective way to travel. You get a more hands-on experience of the country you’re visiting and have the freedom to drive anywhere you want without the worry of steering too far from accommodation.

While campervans can be costly to rent, the included accommodation and catering facilities more than make up for it, making it a much better value than a hotel. Although bear in mind you will potentially need to pay for campsites and you’ll be paying much more for fuel costs (some of the bigger motorhomes can only manage around 12mpg!).

Be aware that motorhome rentals often only include the bear minimum and with many companies you’ll have to purchase either separately or through add-ons these items in the rental package. This includes things like bedding, linen, cooking kits, toilet chemicals, outdoor chairs and tables, which can all add up to a large proportion of the final quote.

Additionally, ensure seats are equipped to facilitate car seats if you are traveling with children under 12 or 1.35m (or 1.5m in Germany, Portugal, Ireland and Italy).

Renting a van for removals

If you’re looking to move to transport or remove items, then there’s several sizes you could go for. If you’re unsure about what size you need, a handy tool you could try is a volume calculator (available on leading van-rental websites) which works out how much space you’ll need based on the furniture and boxes you’re moving.

Van Size Guide

Medium wheelbase

Used for small moves, they can typically fit 30 – 40 medium moving boxes or a single piece of large furniture with a loading capacity of around 10 cubic metres.

Long wheelbase

With a loading capacity of around 12 cubic metres, LWB vans are ideal for moving more than one person, they can fit several pieces of large furniture in them.

3.5 tonne Luton Body Van

This is the best option if you’re moving two or more people and with a loading capacity of 15.1 cubic metres, they can fit multiple pieces of furniture as well as 40 moving boxes.

Weight limits

When it comes to removals, it’s tempting to just go for the biggest van possible and putting as much in there as you can fit, but this could easily take the van over the ‘gross vehicle weight’ which is the maximum a loaded vehicle can weigh, including the van, fuel, passengers and load. You can find this in the Van’s VIN plate and van rental companies will usually provide information regarding the vehicle’s max payload so you know exactly how much you can pack without going over.

Overloading is a serious issue that’s been largely ignored, in 2015 the DVSA stopped over 10,800 vans and a staggering 89% of them were overloaded. The consequences of overloading are potentially dangerous, leading to steering difficulties, increased stopping distances and a higher risk of the van toppling over.

The result of being caught driving an overloaded van are a £100 – £300 fine, potentially invalidating your insurance and in extreme cases you could be taken to court. To ensure you’re not over your limit, you can use a weighbridge, click here to find the closest one to you.

Watch weight disruption

Another big safety risk is incorrectly packing the van. If you pack too heavy on one side the van can become unstable and even topple if the weight distribution is too uneven. Use securing nets and straps to secure your cargo, and ensure that nothing gets damaged.

Van rental in cities

If you’re city bound and you only need a van for a very small trip, such as moving down the road or picking up some furniture, then there are convenient options out there that charge you by the hour, making it ideal for those short trips that don’t require an overnight rental.

There’s no need to pick up keys, you can complete the process online, download the app, find where the vehicle is parked and unlock it via the app using Bluetooth.  It’s a growing service with more and more car-sharing companies offering it.

Mileage policies

Beware of mileage policies, if in doubt and you know you’re going to be traveling a lot, go for unlimited. It may seem like a better deal to go for a set number of miles upfront, but this can really limit you. Even if you’ve planned your trips out with pinpoint precision, things happen and you may find yourself going over and having to pay expensive fees for the surplus.

What insurance do I need when renting a commercial van?

Your rental company will most likely package in van insurance including theft protection and collision damage waiver into your deal, and there is usually a van insurance excess that varies on the size of the vehicle and your driving history.

What is collision damage waiver (CDW)?

If your hire van is stolen or damaged, a CDW can help reduce your liability for the full costs involved, it’s usually compulsory with vehicle hire. However, companies will often require you to still pay an excess fee should an incident happen instead, which can be costly. To protect against this excess, many rental companies will offer an extended or ‘super’ version of CDW.

What is Goods in Transit insurance?

This insurance covers the cost of goods while they are being transported or are in storage, while this is not a legal requirement, it’s a good precaution if you are transporting a lot of expensive items.

Choosing the right van

Whatever van you do choose whether you’re doing a spot of home renovation, exploring another country or moving to a new house ensure it’s the right one for your needs. Shop around and be savvy when it comes to bundles offered by van rental companies, it’s easy to get caught out!

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