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Even with a non-US license, you can still drive from sea to shining sea.
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 short-term visitor (aka, in the US for vacation), your best bet for car insurance is to purchase it via your rental company. If you're moving here or will be living here long-term, it can make sure sense to buy insurance from an American company. To drive legally in the US as a foreign driver, you need insurance and a license — from your country of origin and sometimes an International Driving Permit. Let's explore.
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 NOT a 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.
If you're over 18 and have a valid license, you can apply for an international driver's permit. 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.
Insurance in the US is regulated at the state level but priced by zip code. With some exceptions, most drivers are required to carry Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability Coverage. There are a handful of at-fault states in the US in which you're required to carry Personal Injury Protection instead of bodily injury. If you're leasing or financing your vehicle, you will also be required to carry Collision and Comprehensive coverage. Below are brief explanations of what these coverages do.
There’s a couple of ways to get insurance in the US as a non-citizen: you can get it from a car rental company or from car insurance companies. If you're in the US on vacation, we recommend purchasing the insurance coverage via your rental car agency. This will be cheaper and less time consuming for you.
If you're going to be in the United States on a long-term basis, you will have to purchase insurance from a US-based insurance company. This can be difficult for a few reasons. Some insurance companies will not issue insurance policies to drivers without valid US licenses. Without a US drivers' license, insurance companies have a difficult time seeing your driving history or credit score and thus the risk you present as a driver. Thus, they do not know how to price your auto insurance policy.
Still, there are insurance companies that do issue policies for foreign drivers. However, their insurance rates can be higher. We work with insurance companies across the US to find foreign and US drivers' car insurance. Enter your US zip code below or call us at 888-444-9728 and a licensed insurance agent will help get you insured!
A: It's unlikely your driving history from your home country will transfer to the US. However, you should see a decrease in your premium based on your driving experience after 6-months of clean driving in the US.
A: Studies by the Federal Trade Commission show that drivers with poor credit not only file more claims than drivers with excellent credit, but their claims also tend to be more costly. Thus, drivers with a poor credit history tend to be more expensive clients. California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts are the only states that do not use credit scores as a rating factor.
A: If you're going to live in the US permanently or at least for a long period of time, we recommend applying for a US drivers' license. The requirements vary by state. This will allow you to shop with different insurance providers and help lower your auto insurance quotes.
A: Yes. It will be similar to only having a foreign license. Give us a call at 888-444-9728 and one of our insurance agents can get you covered.