Best Car Insurance for Foreign Drivers

Even with a non-US license, you can still drive from sea to shining sea.

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How do you drive in the US with a foreign license?

Getting all the essentials together in order to drive legally in the US is a hassle — regardless of where you’re from. If you’re a foreign-born driver, this is especially true. In order to drive legally in the US as a foreign driver, you’ll need a couple of things. First, you gotta have insurance. Second, you need a license — both in your country of origin as well as what’s known as an International Driving Permit. To get all of these things takes some thoughtful planning. So, let’s get to it and explore driving in the US as a non-citizen.

Here are our talking points:

  1. What’s an International Driving Permit?
  2. Where can I get an IDP?
  3. Where can I get insurance?

What’s an IDP?

As a foreign driver, it helps to have what is known as an International Driving Permit. An IDP serves as proof that you are licensed to drive in your home country. However, you should know that an IDP is NOTa valid driver's license. It simply serves as a translation for your foreign license and should always accompany the license of your native country. You will have to pass all of your home country's legal driving requirements first and be in possession of a legal license from your country of origin. Together, these two documents show proof of driving ability. You will not be required to take a sequential driving test here in the U.S if you have a foreign license AND an IDP. 

Where to find an IDP?

Before you can get an IDP, you have to be eligible. Basic requirements for an IDP are as follows:

  • You must be at least 18-years-old
  • Have a valid driving license in your native country

Depending on your country, the exact location of getting your IDP might vary. You should consult your country’s transportation and regulation department. Remember, you cannot apply for an IDP in the U.S as it must be done BEFORE arriving in the U.S. Moreover, you are required to get your IDP issued from the same country where your license is issued. 

How to get insurance in the US

There’s a couple of ways to get insurance in the US as a foreigner: you can get it from a rental company or from an actual insurance company.

If you're using a foreign car just for a vacation, your best bet is to get it from a rental company. Getting insurance from an insurance company is for more long-term residents who will generally also purchase a vehicle.

Bare in mind, it's difficult and expensive for a foreign driver to get insurance. In the U.S, some insurance company will only sell you insurance if you have a U.S license. This is because, as you don't have a driving record or credit history here, it's hard for an insurance company to determine what kind of risk you will pose to them — and thus how much to charge you for their services.

Because of this, your best bet is to not only shop around for car insurance with as many different companies but consult with an independent agent. An independent agent, like the ones employed here at The Zebra, aren’t bound to one company so they are able to find the one that suits your needs specifically. Get started today.

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Recent Questions:

Best Car Insurance for Foreign Drivers

If I'm a new driver in the US, how will that impact my rate?

The length of driving experience that insurance companies use to determine your rate is based on US driving. Your previous experience may slightly improve your rate, but the length of time you have been licensed in the US will matter the most.

Can I sell my used car to someone with no insurance?

He can purchase the vehicle from you without insurance, but technically the car has to be insured before can legally drive it on public roads. If not, he could be ticketed for driving uninsured.

I am visiting my daughter for two weeks and am looking for short term insurance

Your best option would be to have your daughter contact her insurance company about possibly adding you as a driver to her policy for the 2 week timeframe. They may not even require that you be listed since you will only be driving temporarily, but she will need to check with her company on the specifics of covering you.

How can I get auto insurance as a foreign driver?

You can use our insurance calculator here in order to find insurance. Your status as a foreign driver does not impact this as long as you have your license.