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Car Rental in Bellingham

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Car Rental in Bellingham: a relaxed and livable City in Washington

For a visit to the beautiful and temperate west coast of the United States without the intense bustle of Seattle or Portland, head to Bellingham, once an industrial port town and now a very relaxed, quirky, and livable city. Located an hour and a half north of Seattle and an hour south of Vancouver, Bellingham is an excellent base from which to explore the temperate rainforest of Washington state and British Columbia, the islands that speckle the western coast of the northern United States and southern Canada, or to hike through North Cascades National Park. Automobile hire is the best way to explore this region in depth, particularly as transnational and mountain-bound public transportation is limited at best.

Summer weather is the most comfortable time of year in Bellingham, with occasional rainstorms breaking up sunny days. From November through January, almost consistent rainfall is typical for the Bellingham area.

The de facto national language of the United States is English. The currency is the US dollar. Currency exchange is highly available at airports and popular tourist destinations, and credit cards are accepted at the vast majority of businesses.

Located along Interstate 5, which travels parallel to the western coast of the United States, Bellingham is primarily accessed by car. However, you can also fly into the Bellingham International Airport. With service from numerous Canadian and American cities, the Bellingham Airport is a convenient place to pick up your rental car, located just five miles northwest of the city. Car rental services are also available in Bellingham directly, particularly along N State/Iowa Street.

Alternatively, fly into Sea-Tac, the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where you can rent a car and make the scenic 100-mile drive north. Or fly into the Vancouver International Airport, located 50 miles north of Bellingham. If you plan to drive a Canadian rental car to Bellingham, be sure to ask your rental car agency which documents you’ll need to bring with you to cross the border quickly and efficiently.

While there’s a great deal to explore in Bellingham, make it a point to head east into the mountains or west to the islands. You can take car or passenger ferries from nearby cities to the San Juan Islands in the US and to Vancouver Island in Canada; just be sure to double-check your visa regulations for entering Canada and especially for re-entering the United States before you cross the border!

Visa Regulations

38 nationalities can enter the United States as tourists without applying for a visa, though if you are among these nationalities, you are still required to fill out the ESTA in advance. Visit for more information. Everyone who enters the United States will be fingerprinted and biometrically photographed upon entry. If your nationality is not included on the visa-waiver program list, you will be required to apply for a B-1 or B-2 visa in advance of your arrival.

Driving in Bellingham

Featuring a small-town feel no longer present in the biggest west coast cities, driving in Bellingham is truly a comfortable way to explore the city and its surroundings. Downtown Bellingham is something of a maze, with numerous one-way streets, so having a map or navigation system on hand is recommended! Make the most of your visit to this unique – and most northern – American city by booking your car today.

Right-Hand Driving

  • Traffic proceeds on the right-hand side of the road throughout the United States.

Typical Speed Limits

  • In municipal and residential areas: 25-50 miles per hour, except in school zones, which are typically 15 miles per hour
  • On rural freeways: 70 miles per hour
  • On urban freeways: 60 miles per hour
  • Expect traffic congestion in the hours around 8 am and 5 pm.

Other Regulations

  1. Street parking and parking garages are abundant throughout Bellingham. Street parking in the city center is regulated by time and fees, typically costing around 75 cents an hour. Parking may be more difficult in residential areas, so booking a hotel with complementary off-street parking is recommended.
  2. You can drive on your domestic driver’s license as a tourist throughout Washington State, though accompanying your license with an international driver’s permit is recommended.
  3. An international driver’s permit is also required to drive in Canada, in addition to your valid domestic driver’s license.
  4. There are no toll roads in the direct vicinity of Bellingham, though there are a number of tolled bridges and express lanes in and around Vancouver, Seattle and Tacoma. While Washingtonians and British Columbians can be issued a provisional driver’s license as young as 16, you will have to be at least 21 years of age to rent a car in Washington and Canada. Drivers under 25 are likely to be charged extra, if they are permitted to rent at all.

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