What to Do When You Return a Rental Car

People are always asking us here at self-drive Uganda what they should do when returning their car, and yet the truth is that when you take a car rental in Uganda, the company gives you all the information you need. However, we know that some companies bury the returning procedure under reams of small print, so here is a general idea of what you should do when you return your car.

Plan your Route

Before you return your rental car, you should first plan on how you are going to get it back in time. Check what time the car is due back. Check how long it will take to get to the rental car shop because most rental companies will charge you if you bring the car back late. If you are not sure about where you need to drop off the car, you can always contact the company or send them an email.

Don’t forget to fill up

The main reasons you should make sure the tank is full is to make sure you don’t break down and end up being late getting the car back. Also, the rental place may have a ‘full to full’ policy, which means because you picked up the car with a full tank, so you should make sure to refill it before you return it. If you decide to not refill it, the company may charge you extra for this.

Double check the terms and conditions for when you rent a car with them because you may not have to bring the car back with a full tank, this is especially true if the T&Cs or the confirmation email says ‘pre-purchase’.

Taking Photos

Before you take the car from the rental place, take a photo of the car’s sides, front and the rear of the car. Once you have done that, don’t forget to take a photo of the mileage and fuel indicator. This will help you will any added fees you have received for any missing fuel, additional damage, or mileage.

Clean the interior of the car

On the final day of your rental, ensure you remove any rubbish from the car interior. The car needs to be returned in a reasonable state of cleanliness. If there is significant material within the car you will need to give it a vacuum before dropping it off. You will not be expected to wash the car exterior, as this will be done by the rental company.

Double check by taking out all of your Belongings

Before you had the keys over to the rental company, make sure you check the car for any of your things. Look under the car seats, in the boot, check the music player, and any other places you might store your things while you used the car. By checking for your stuff, you are also checking for damage, and unexpected things, and it is a good habit to get into when you make a car rental in Uganda.

If there’s an agent in the car park

Hopefully they will check the car with you, give you the end-of-rental paperwork (often called ‘check-in form’) and take the car key. Once they are sure everything is fine, they will unblock or refund your security deposit (although this can take up to two weeks to come through).

Pack all of your belongings into luggage

It’s a good idea to pack your bags fully on the final day or the night before. This removes the stress of trying to fit everything in at the drop-off location on short notice. When you depart for the airport or your drop-off location, it’s nice to have a clean car interior.

Put all of the key items in a backpack so that you can easily check that you haven’t forgotten anything. This takes the pressure off when dropping the car off.

Refuel the car before dropping it off

Most rental policies involve a full-to-full agreement. This means you are given the car with a full tank and must fill the tank up before returning it. In order to avoid overpaying for gas, look to fill the tank at a cheap gas station nearby to the drop-off location. Avoid going to airport gas stations.

Look for signage on your approach to the drop-off location

Often times using an app such as Google Maps will be sufficient to guide you directly to the correct location. You may find it easy if you are dropping off at the same place you picked up from.

If you are unsure of the location, look for signage while nearby. If you are dropping off at a new location we suggest allocating an extra 15 minutes into your plan to account for struggling to find it.

Arrive at the drop-off location and look for an agent

When you arrive at the drop-off location look for a representative of the rental car company. They will usually do an inspection of the vehicle. Ask for a copy of the inspection sheet with a signature to prove that you have returned the rental car in the correct condition. This is the key evidence you need in case of any unexpected charges or difficulty retrieving your deposit.

If there is no agent then look for a key drop box

Many rental car companies have a key drop box to allow you to leave the rental vehicle without interacting with an agent. These are usually located near the office of the company.

Before dropping the keys in the box, make sure you have fully checked that you have all your belongings from the car and that it is locked.

Your rental car will be checked for additional damage

When you return the rental car, make sure you take all of your personal belongings with you. A representative will check the vehicle for any additional damage that has been incurred. If you have purchased Loss Damage Waiver, and you have not broken the terms and conditions of your rental, you will not be responsible for the cost of any damage. If not, your credit card will be charged for the repair costs.

Check your account statement in future

It’s important to check your credit card statement in the future to make sure there are no unexpected charges on there. You will likely have paid a deposit when renting the vehicle so it’s key to check that they have not added and charges you weren’t aware of.

Late Returns

Quoted daily rates cover up to 24 hours, calculated from the time the vehicle was booked for collection. Late returns will be charged at 1/5 daily rate per hour up to 4 hours after which full daily rate will apply. Quoted rates are based on a continuous rental basis, with no deductions for weekends, public holidays, servicing downtime etc.


This post details the simple steps you need to follow when returning a rental car. These tips and advice will help you save time and avoid any unexpected charges.






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