What is the legal age to lease a car? Most states and countries use a guideline called the age of majority. Or, in other words, the age when someone is considered an adult and capable of signing a legal contract for goods and services, like a car lease.

The specific age is determined by individual states or countries and may vary from location to location. Let’s examine the laws of the United States, Canada and the European Union to see what their age requirements are for leasing a car.

Are You Old Enough to Lease a Car?
Credit: Thomas doerfer, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mercedes-Benz_W246_IAA_2011.JPG

United States Age of Majority

f you’re hoping 18 is the magic age for adulthood in the United States, you would be mostly right because 40 of the states consider 18-year olds to be adults of legal age to lease a car. In Missouri, however, individuals must be 21.

In Utah, Ohio, Wisconsin and Nevada, you must be eighteen or be a high school graduate, whichever happens first. In Virginia and Tennessee, the legal age is eighteen or the individual must be a high school graduate, whichever happens last. Alabama, Delaware, and Nebraska set the age of majority at 19.

In addition to being of legal age, most car dealerships or car lessors require individuals to have a legal driver’s license—not a permit—and they may have other prerequisites like a good driving record or a clean credit history. Each dealership or leasing company has their own set of qualifications that must be met.

To complicate things further, many states consider minors that are emancipated, married, or in the military to be at the age of majority. Checking the specific laws for the state of your residency is always the wisest choice.

Canada: Leasing Age Guide

The legal age to lease a car in Canada is 18, except for individuals that live in:

  • British Colombia
  • Newfoundland
  • Labrador
  • Northwest Territory
  • Nova Scotia
  • Nunavut
  • Yukon

These guidelines are simply for the country as dealers and leasing companies set their own qualifications. Because of the range of guidelines, it is only possible to cover broad generalities here.

Car Leasing Age Guidelines: European Union

Some European Union (EU) car companies such as Peugeot or Renault offer short-term car leasing. These leases typically cover 17 to 175 days and are designed for visitors, tourists, students, teachers and so forth. At the time of this writing, this type of car lease is available in 30 EU countries. Let’s look at the guidelines to see what is required.

  • 18 years old
  • Be a current licensed driver, with a license issued in the state of residence, for one year
  • Maintain a residence outside the EU

In addition to these prerequisites, the lessee may need an International driver’s permit (IDP), passport or visa. Leasing companies and dealerships may have an additional set of qualifications, and many require individuals to have been licensed drivers for at least five years to be eligible for a short-term car lease.

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Other Car Leasing Requirements

What are some other possible requirements for leasing a car? A few of the common prerequisites and possible expenses are:

  • The first month's payment in advance
  • Paying a security deposit, a down payment, or both
  • Taxes, registration and dealer fees

Remember, these are general guidelines because individual businesses set their own rules and regulations. 

Other Helpful Car Leasing Tips

As we’ve discovered in this brief overview, there is no short answer to the question: “What is the legal age to lease a car?” There are many other factors to consider like specific state or country laws, and individual car dealership and leasing company's rules and regulations.

Remember that you don't own the car; the leasing company does. If the car is damaged or if you wreck the car, you may be liable unless you have taken out GAP insurance.

If you think car leasing is for you, but you’re not sure you qualify, talk to the sales staff at local car dealerships and ask them for advice on their guidelines as well as information on pertinent state laws.