Renting a car in Oman is the best way to explore this magnificent country.
Below is my complete guide on how to rent a car in Oman, covering:
- which type of car is best,
- rental companies, reviews,
- tips on reducing costs,
- insurance recommendations,
- essentials to avoid any scam,
- rules and regulations,
I have tried listing everything you may need to know to enjoy a worry-free car hire experience.
It’s being priceless in planing my trip.
Alexandra about zigzag
In this article, no ads, no sponsored posts. Just some affiliate links.
If you purchase through them, I get a commission at no extra cost to you (Disclosure).
Renting a car in Oman - Summary
Do you need a car in Oman?
Absolutely, renting a car is the best way to explore Oman.
There is much to see and it is spread out.
What you can see from Mascate on day trips is limited. Although still possible. Check out my article.
Public transportation is limited.
You could hire a private driver and his/her car but it is expensive and renting your own car will give you a lot more freedom.
Car rental essential tips - from my personal experiences
If you don't want to read the entire article with the step-by-step to renting a car in Oman, here is a short summary of my top tips:
- 4WD is not mandatory to explore Oman. It depends on what you want to see see detailed section on how to decide further down.
- The offering is still limited - Book early to get the best prices and the choice of cars
- Always check the car upon arrival and take pictures of anything you see (don't forget the roof and under the bumper)
- If you are planning on crossing the border to the UAE, make sure you contract allows for it
- Driving in overall easy - don't worry!
- There are speed cameras everywhere. Even when renting, you are responsible for paying the fines!
The booking platform I personally use
You will see a lot of mentions of Discovercars.com throughout this article.
This is the platform I personally use and one of the best customer-rated comparison sites on the market.
As soon as I decide on a destination and dates, I go check their deals and car types.
I have found some really good deals many times.
Plus, they have a practical coverage option at great price that will cover you in case of damage to the outside of the car.
Is it difficult to drive in Oman? Is it safe?
Overall driving in Oman is very easy and safe.
You just have a few crazy people driving way too fast.
But otherwise, motorways and roads in the North are in good conditions.
Some roads to off the beaten path locations can be less maintained but manageable.
Most drivers are chilled and navigation is easy.
#1 to 3 - How to rent a car in Oman - required elements
Tip 1 - License to rent a car in Oman
It is always better to have you International Driving Permit anywhere you travel out of the country.
This way you never wonder.
However, know that to be allowed to drive in Oman (for a short stay), you can use a standard International driver’s license for up to 2 months. It means a license that has:
- a licence number,
- a photograph,
- a valid date,
- and is in Latin or arabic writing,
A valid US license works.
A valid Canadian License works.
A valid UK License works.
Here is the Royal Police Source that does not required International Driving Permit (sentence at the bottom of Drive License section).
Tip 2 - Extra age requirements / years of driving
Official driving age in Oman is 18.
However, most car rental companies in Oman:
- will require you to be 25
- will require you to have held a license in your home country for a year or more,
- may accept you under 25, but with extra cost
- may add charges, if you are over a certain age.
It’s best to make sure to read all the fine print.
On the platform Discovercars.com you can enter your age, to see any limitation in rental cars available and any additional fee.
Tip 3 - A credit card that can handle the hold charge
Remember that unless you have decided to purchase a full coverage insurance directly with the rental company, you will be asked for your credit card to hold a deposit. This amount is blocked on your account via your credit card (until you bring the car back without damages).
As it is on top of the payment, you may be hitting the limit of your credit card daily/weekly or monthly protection limit.
So be prepared! Your options are:
- Use a different credit card for the hold charge,
- Contact your bank prior to traveling to change your limits,
- Purchase a full coverage insurance with a 0 excess charge.
#4 & 5 - When and where to hire a car in Oman
Tip 4 - Best period
Tourism is not as developed in other places.
The car rental offering is limited.
So, if you want the choice of your vehicle types and good prices, it is better to book your car as early as possible.
Tip 5 - When and where
Often in country, I recommend renting after or before visiting the capital city.
But not in Oman.
The sights of Muscat are spread out and driving in Muscat is not difficult (except from the jams around the old town).
So you can rent as soon as you arrive at the airport in Muscat.
And it you are traveling in the South, you can also rent directly upon landing in Salalah.
Same for the Musandam peninsula.
The largest car rental hubs in Oman are:
#6 to 10 - What type of car to choose - 4WD in Oman or not?
Tip 6 - Recommendations for size of car / power - does size matters?
I know it depends on how many people are traveling and how much luggage you are traveling with.
But here are a few things to keep in mind when traveling in Oman:
- Most roads are quite large so any size of vehicle will be find
- There are some steep roads in the mountains, I recommend not taking the lower motor size, but take at least a medium car.
Tip 7 - Do I need a 4WD to travel in Oman?
A lot of the sights in Oman are accessible without 4WD.
With a standard car you can see: all of Muscat, the many castles, Nizwa, the turtle reserves, many wadis such as Wadi Shab, the Bimmah Sinkhole... and so much more.
In the North, you need a 4WD if you want to get to:
- the sand dunes of Wahiba Sands
- the mountains of Jebel Akdhar (mandatory) - paved road but very steep
- the mountains of Jebel Shams (not mandatory but recommended) - steep and few miles unpaved
- the Salmah plateau - true 4WD experience
- Some river beds such as Wadi Nakhr
- small villages in hidden valleys
In Salalah, again 4WD is not essential.
If you drive from Muscat to Salalah, it could allow you to go see some sights that could require 4WD.
So, do do you need it of not?
You can manage without it.
You can do most of your travels on your own.
And then get a driver to take you to the famous locations that are 4WD only. For example at Wahiba Sands, you can park at a town nearby and get the desert camp to drive you.
At Jebel Akdhar, you can park at the bottom, before the gate, and get a guide/driver to visit.
Tip 8 - Transmission type - Manual vs Automatic
Most cars to rent in Oman have an automatic transmission.
Tip 9 - Fuel choice - Diesel, Gas or electric
- unleaded is MOCas 95 or MOGAS91
- Diesel is available
- Gas stations are called Oil service stations
- Fuel is inexpensive in Oman
- See the concentration of electric car charging stations, where you are going in Oman on this website. So far there are only a few.
Tip 10 - Consider vehicles with sleeping options
Another idea is to rent a vehicle in which you can sleep.
Overall, this could save you money compared to booking extra accommodations.
- Wild camping is allowed as long as it is not private property or cultivated land and not too close to inhabited buildings.
- There are only a couple of camp sites.
But vehicles with sleeping roof tent are hard to find.
You could rent a car and get some camping equipment.
All my favorite locations are included (with GPS coordinates, map and tips) in my travel guide eBook that helps you easily plan your xx road trip:
Be overwhelmed by the beauty, not the planning!
#11 to 16 - Best rental car companies in Oman
Tip 11 - Cost of car rental in Oman
To give you an idea, based on data from Discovercars.com, prices are around:
- There are big variations throughout the year - The average prices vary from 36 to 70 USD per day
- There is not clear period when rentals are cheaper. They are more expensive in June and August.
It is very easy to compare prices online on a single platform - but if comparing between sites, remember to check all hidden fees.
Tip 12 - Things to consider when choosing your car rental company
- First, of course, the company must have the type of car your needs
- Then, check out the cancellation fees
- Authorized milage - depending on what you are planning, have a look at unlimited or defined daily milage allowance
- The pickup location - some require a shuttle to the get to the rental area
Tip 13 - Best rated car rental companies in Muscat
When reading reviews, don't forget that on Tripadvisor or Google for example, anyone can write a review even if they have not used the company.
Plus, only the people who had issues write comments, most of the people without issues, don't take the time to write that it went smoothly.
The car rental offering is still limited in Oman. There is no one standout.
Learn to read the reviews:
- Remember that most people don't write a review when things go well, so the proportion of bad reviews is very high.
- Sort by the latest
- Make sure you check those of the company + location. Not the overall comments about a brand. Customer service can vary greatly between offices.
- Don't worry about complaints on the fact that they are a security deposit (you will read this article, so you will know - see answer 7)
- Don't worry about complaints on the fact that they are trying to sell insurance (it is their job get over it)
- Know that some companies require a credit card and do not accept a debit card
- Focus on the potential big problems: any car problems or if they are trying to charge for damages in a scammy way (and the complaint is recurrent).
On the platform Discovercars.com, each rental company has a mark on 10 points. This is an average of the marks given by actual customers.
On the search page, you have a filter to select only the best rated ones:
Tip 14 - How to save money - cheap car rental in Oman
If keeping the cost down is your main concern, you should:
- Book very early
- Return the car where you picked it up
- Book a smaller car
- Pay attention to pick-up and drop-off times - Car hire is typically charged per 24-hour period
- Choose a rental without cancellation or with limited cancellation
- If renting for 6 days, check the price for 7 days - sometimes companies have a discount for 1 week rentals.
- Book with limited milage
If you plan on driving all the way to Salalah, driving back may be cheaper that flying back. But it will take a lot longer.
Tip 15 - Check opening hours if picking a company not at an airport
If you are picking up your car at the airport, the companies are normally open as long as flights are arriving.
However, if you are renting a car from a town, especially a smaller one, they will have shorter opening hours (especially on weekends). This may mean that you have to rent for an extra day if you can't drop off the car.
Tip 16 - Car rental scams in Oman
There is no specific scam in Oman, that I am aware of.
As in most country, if the price is very very low, then there must be conditions and tricks behind it.
Always take pictures of any damage already on the car at pick up.
#17 to 18 - Understanding Insurances
Tip 17 - Choose the types of insurance you need + requirements in Oman
Many levels of insurances are available. And their wording is often not very clear.
Here is a high-level overview of the different types of insurances - which are not really insurances, but waivers to limit your liability:
- Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) - It limits the customer’s responsibility during the rental period and sets the maximum amount of money the customer will have to pay in case of damages -
- Theft Protection (TP) - this waiver limits your liability up to the vehicle’s deductible/excess amount in the event the car is stolen (proof required are a police report and the car keys). TP is frequently included in the car rental price.
- Third Party Liability (TPL) - also known as Supplemental Liability Insurance, Extended protection, liability protection... - it covers personal and material damages caused to other people’s cars, property and even medical expenses. They have different limits.
- and many others...
The mandatory insurance in Oman are:
- Third party liability
Tip 18 - 4 ways to purchase insurance
- Option no extra insurance - apart from the mandatory one, you don't have to take extras. Just know that in case something happen, you can be liable for your entire deposit.
- Option 1 - Use your credit card insurance/ or your own car insurance
Many credit cards have some kind of coverage for rental cars. They all differ.
Similarly, your home car insurance can be covering you as well when renting a car.
You need to read all the fine prints to clearly understand what is covered or not.
- Option 2 - Purchase upon booking your rental car
When you book your rental car, you normally have the option to select the insurances you want. The deals are most of the time better than at the counter (I have seen 3 times less, once).
On direct websites, you get the dealer's insurance, but on platforms, you get a special insurance created by the platform.
For example, on Discovercars.com, they have their own Full Coverage Waiver Insurance Option
Personally, this is what I used. I know I may already be covered by my credit card and all, but this just seems the easier route, more straightforward in case of an issue. Personal feeling.
- Option 3 - At car rental
This is the more expensive option, but if you have not done it before, you could purchase it as you are paying.
- Option 4 - Travel Insurance
Get a travel insurance that include comprehensive car rental insurance with one of the classic insurance companies.
#19 to 23 - Extras
I recommend you compare prices with the same extras. Prices of extras can vary greatly.
Tip 19 - Do I need GPS?
To navigate, a GPS can make your experience smoother. So that you can focus on the driving.
- Option 1 - Bring your own GPS
This is my favorite options. I know well how it works, plus I can pre-enter all my destinations which saves me a lot of time.
On my travel guide eBook you get the GPS coordinates of the carparks of all my favorite locations
- Option 2 - Use your phone
If you have a phone, don't forget that the roaming charges abroad can be very expensive.
You can pick up a local sim card.
Or you can download a map beforehand, when you are connected to wifi, so that you can navigate without spending money.
Don't forget the charger and your phone holder so that it is comfortable!
- Option 3 - Take the GPS extra
I don't recommend it. I think this is a last resort if you don't have your own or a good phone. I always find it very expensive.
Tip 20 - Additional driver charges
Decide beforehand whether or not you will need more than one driver.
If so, take this into account when comparing rental deals between companies.
Some companies have deals that has a free extra driver.
On the platform Discovercars.com, if there are any, it can be selected on the filters:
Tip 21 - Child safety seats rules in Oman
A law was passed in 2018, and children under 4 years of age must travel in a special car seat.
Tip 22 - Crossing border
You may want to combine your travels in Oman with a visit to the UAE visiting Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
However, that implies crossing a border.
This is not allowed by all rental companies. And for others, there are fees included.
If renting with Discovercars.com, once you selected a car you can click on "Rental conditions" and then again "Rental conditions" or "Additional conditions" to find the "geographical restrictions".
Or it may be listed in the extras (open them all to se).
If it is not documented, you can add the question for customer support to answer.
Tip 23 - Tolls
Tolls are being set up on some Oman roads.
Rentals may include a toll fee system.
#24 to 31 - How to collect and return the car to avoid issues
Tip 24 - Check your vehicle at pick-up
For a worry-free exchange with the rental car company, I recommend you do a thorough check of the car before leaving the carpark.
Sometimes it is done with an agent. Sometimes they just give you a form with the state of the car before renting. Sometimes they tell you nothing...
Make sure all dents and scratches are noted, if not, make sure they add it.
Plus, for peace of mind, you can take pictures before leaving (like in every country).
Things to look for:
- Check all the exterior of the car for dent and scratches
- Don't forget to check the roof!!!! It is often forgotten, but they might check it when you return
- Don't forget under the bumper
- And don't forget the back of the mirrors
- Check the interior for any damage
- Check the state of the tires
- Check the state of the fender (mud wing above the wheels)
- Make sure the spare tire is in place and in good condition
- Check that gas level and milage match the record
Tip 25 - Check the mandatory equipment is in the car
I have not found information that in Oman, pieces of equipment must be available in the car (e.g. triangle, reflective vest...).
Tip 26 - Ask about the management of tolls
If you have not thought about the option when renting car, make sure you ask at the front desk how it works.
Yes, you will have to pay for toll roads just as you would if you were driving your own car.
At the counter, check with the rental companies how it is managed.
Tip 27 - What to do in case of fine or tickets (speed / parking)
You are responsible for any parking tickets or driving fines that you receive during the rental period.
If you are aware of it right away, you can go and pay at the police station or online, as indicated.
But know that it can take up to 3 months for a fine to be reported to the car owner (the rental company). In that case, they will send you proof and charge you for it and maybe add an administrative fee for managing the fine.
Tip 28 - What if there is a problem with the car
Don't lose your rental agreement.
On it, you will find the steps to take if you have a problem with your car.
Most use a breakdown assistance service and the number will be listed on the agreement.
Then you can contact the rental company to see how to car can be replaced.
Tip 29 - Don't forget to manage your tank
More and more company now have a system where you must bring back the car with the same level of fuel (not full to full tank but same to same).
This is very annoying, but it is easier for them to manage.
Therefore, you need to understand how much the car consumes and how many kilometers / miles you still have to do, if you don't want to waste money.
Tip 30 - Drop off
For peace of mind, try dropping off the car during opening hours so that the car checks can all be made and validated.
If not possible, take pictures of the car before leaving it.
It is true that you can read horror stories on the Internet about renting cars.
However, keep in mind that the thousands and thousands of people who have no problem don't write that all went well with their rentals...
So don't be stressed. If you have taken a reputable company, are respecting the rules, it should go very smoothly.
Tip 31 - What if you damaged the car
If your rental car gets damaged, the first thing to do is to contact the car rental agency.
- If your rental has only basic insurance, you will have to cover the damages up to your deductible amount.
- If you have purchased a full coverage with the rental company, check with them and it should be covered
- If you have purchased with Discovercars.com, contact them and provide all info (within 28 days of dropping off the car). They with refund you for charges and costs related to the damage, if warranted
- If you are using your own insurance, contact them and provide all info. They with refund you for charges and costs related to the damage, if warranted.
#32 to 36 - Get ready to drive in Oman
Below is a snapshot with the main things to know.
You can learn more on my article about driving in Oman.
Tip 32 - Understand the rules
Tip 33 - Watch videos
To get familiar with the driving you can watch videos of people road tripping in Oman.
Below is my short video to give you an idea of what it looks like:
Tip 34 - Know the potential dangers
Driving in Oman is relatively safe.
The main dangers on the road of Oman are:
- animals on the road (goats, camels...)
- long straight lines (don't doze off)
- flash floods - always check the weather forecast before entering a wadi.
Tip 35 - Plan your itinerary
It can be fun to go an adventure.
But if you want to see many locations on your road trip, better to plan ahead to balance your days and book accommodations.
Find all my favorite locations and tips in my travel guide eBook:
Be overwhelmed by the beauty, not the planning!
Where to stay in Oman?
- Muscat - capital city - see best rated accommodations
- Nizwa - to explore the forts and hinterlands - see best rated accommodations
- Sur - for the turtles, beaches, wadis... - see best rated accommodations
- Wahiba Sands - for the experience of sleeping in the desert - see best rated accommodations
- Salalah - the explore the Southern lands - see best rated accommodations
- Khasab - to explore the Musandam Peninsula - see best rated accommodations
Tip 36 - What to do in case of accident
In case there are people hurt or there is a conflict, the emergency number in Oman is 9999 or 112:
The best order of actions is:
- contact emergency services
- contact the police
- contact your rental provider
Want to see more of Oman?
- Best Things to do in Oman - read article
- Best of photos from Oman - Landscapes - read article
- Best forts in Oman - read article
- Where to stay in Oman - read article
- Planning a road trip in Oman - read article
- Best Things to do in Muscat - read article
- The impressive Wadi Shab - read article
- The Bimmah Sinkhole - read article
- The desert of Wahiba Sands - read article
- The Ras Al Jinz turtle reserves - read article
And keep track of your own trip!
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