Abu Dhabi International Airport
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

What You Need to Know About Renting a Car From Avis at Abu Dhabi International Airport

f you are renting a car from Avis at Abu Dhabi International Airport, here is what you need to know about the process.

After exiting the airplane upon arrival in Abu Dhabi International Airport, going through passport control and customs — which could take as much as two hours, so be forewarned — I simply followed the signs for rental cars, which is typically the norm…

…but a bad move when renting from Avis. When I arrived at the rental car counters, I wound up at the Skypark Plaza area of the airport and saw companies such as Europcar, Budget and Hertz — but no Avis.

Even a directory right across from the rental car counters did not acknowledge the existence of Avis.

Perhaps I reserved a rental car from Avis at a different destination? I thought to myself. Did I dream that I rented a car from Avis at all?!? One of the cars which I reserved was a part of this promotion where I could receive 1,000 bonus Hyatt Gold Passport points on vehicle rentals of three days or longer; plus save up to 25 percent on the time and mileage charges of the rental while receiving an upgrade of one class of vehicle.

Perplexed as I wondered if I was slipping into a form of dementia of some type and knowing that Budget and Avis are subsidiaries of the same company, I asked an agent at the Budget counter about where Avis is located.

“The Avis counter is only located at Terminal 2. You will have to take a taxi to get to it.”

Take a taxi? Within the airport?!?

She then requested that I wait a moment; placed a telephone call; informed me that someone from Avis will arrive shortly; and told me to wait at a seat opposite the rental car counters. After I thanked her, a man waiting in line said that he had a similar experience.

Between five and ten minutes later, a man shows up with a worn placard with two names — one of them mine. “Are you the person with the Avis rental?” he asked.

After acknowledging in the affirmative, he brought me to a running car, packed my belongings in the hatchback, and I was being driven to the Avis rental facility.

I was told that I was to have looked for someone holding a placard with my name on it upon exiting the secure area of the airport. I have never had to do that in all of the years in which I have been renting cars all over the world; but apparently there is a first time for everything.

The driver of the car brought me to this building in some dark area of the airport known as Abu Dhabi Aviation — it was nighttime — which was located at the southeastern part of the airport past Terminal 2; and I was informed to return the car at this building and not follow the signs at the airport for where rental cars are supposed to be returned. I followed the man into this desolate and dimly-lit building.

Although I handed the agent behind the counter my credit card which contained a chip, he wanted a credit card with embossed numbers in case of an emergency. I did not understand that at all; but fortunately I had one which met that criterion.

After photocopying my driver’s license, passport and both credit cards — he actually took a pencil and shaded a piece of paper with my credit card with the embossed numbers underneath as part of the process, which stunned me — he finally handed me my documents for the rental of the car; and I followed another man to the car which brought me to this facility, as that was to be my rental car. He checked for dents and scratches with a bright lantern flashlight, to which I acknowledged before finally taking over the car to drive.

If I experienced a more bizarre process to renting a car in my travels, I could not think of it at the moment.


Look for a person with a placard with both the Avis logo and your name on it upon exiting the secure area of the airport. He will take you to the Avis rental counter. Do not follow the signs for rental cars within Abu Dhabi International Airport.

Ensure that you have a credit card with embossed numbers on it. You can still charge your rental to a credit card with printed numbers instead of embossed numbers; but ensure that the cost of the rental is correctly charged on the credit card of your choice.

When returning the rental car to Avis, do not follow the signs to return the rental cars. Instead, follow the traffic signs within the airport to Abu Dhabi Aviation; and you will return the car at curbside.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

  1. I’ve rented vehicles on 6 continents. If I’m returning the vehicle to the same airport from which I picked up, I will always wait until my travel, handheld, GPS is locked in so I have the waypoint of the rental garage/location saved.

    It has helped me many times, including, coincidentally enough, in Abu Dhabi a few months ago when there was a lot of road construction by the airport with several signs pointing to the rental car area being removed or blocked by equipment.

    Returning to an unknown airport in a foreign country can be very daunting. I had a nightmare returning to Enterprise at Izmir in Turkey. Apparently you’re supposed to have a key card to get into the rental garage, except I picked up the car in Denizli. The parking attendant wanted me to drive out of the garage, pay the 5 Euro with the paper ticket, and then reenter with their key card.

  2. thanks for the info. Don’t think I’m ever going to be in Abu Dhabi, but just in case, I now have this little bit of info tucked away.

  3. I have had the same experience erience collecting an Avis car at Abu Dhabi. I was told to return the car to curbside outside terminal 3. When I tried to do this there was no Avis rep present. I too had collected the car in the dark, so did not know how to find the Avis office.
    I parked in the Skypark, went to Budget and asked them to call Avis, which they did. Eventually someone from Avis arrived, and demanded I give him cash ticket to get the car out of the Skypark.
    Absolute shambles.
    Moral – like someone already commented, do NOT rent from Avis at Abu Dhabi airport. Use Budget, Hertz, anyone else!

    1. My experience was different in that I did not have to park a car nor pay to get the car out of the Skypark, Mark D.

      Did you report your experience to Avis?

      1. No Brian. I didn’t have any cash on me, the Avis guy didn’t have any equipment to receive electronic payment, and by that stage I was late for my flight. So I told him to add the carpark charge to my bill, and I caught my flight.
        In the end the extra carpark charge never made it to my bill!

  4. Hi. I just got back from Abu Dhabi, and the Avis rental counter is now located smack dab in the middle of the main cluster of car rental companies in the Skypark. I read this post before I went and looked for an Avis guy with a sign, but the location has changed, and Avis has joined the rest of the pack, so to speak. Note that the Avis logo is actually not on the signs pointing towards the Rental Cars–I guess that particular piece slipped between the cracks–but the main problem you describe in your post no longer exists.

    1. Thank you for reporting that, Ed.

      Hopefully, someone from Avis at the airport in Abu Dhabi will put up a sign and end the unnecessary inconvenience one and for all…

  5. If you are visiting Dubai and wish to rent a car, you should obtain an International Drivers License before coming to UAE. Until recently an IDL was not required but seems to be lately. I would not recommend driving in Dubai. It is an extremely congested city with very uneven driving habits. You will find anything from local boys doing over 200kph to people who will barely do 60kph on the highways. There is also a lot of truck traffic. If you are going to get a residence visa, you can exchange your US drivers license for a UAE license. But maybe you’ll have to pass a ‘outside’ driving test. If you want to rent a car in dubai then you can visit our website

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