How to buy a car in the usa as a foreigner

The USA is an ideal country for cars. Highway junctions, lack of sidewalks, affordable gas prices, and sometimes a terrible public transportation system push us to have two or three cars.

You can get into the romance of American travel only by car – when a cozy car with an automatic transmission rolls along a flat road, the driver relaxedly holds the steering wheel with one hand, and the other adjusts the volume of the radio station. Stunning scenery flashes outside the window. Exactly stunning – it feels like North America has collected some of the most beautiful places on the planet in a wild concentration.

If your trip to the United States takes two to three weeks, then the best way is to rent a car, but if you plan to spend a couple of months or longer in the United States, then it is cheaper and easier to buy a car. In the end, their own car is often given names, rather quickly it turns from a means of transportation into a house on wheels, in which you can sleep, dine, drive fellow travelers, smoke, and not worry about every scratch.

The laws in each state of the United States may differ. You won’t be able to register a purchased car in any state. As a rule, the catch lies either in the SSN – the social security number through which Americans pay taxes (you cannot get it on a tourist visa), or in the fact that in order to register you need to provide proof of residence at an address in the United States, or, in our understanding, residence permit, according to which, if anything, a person can be found. Only if our residence permit is stamped into a passport, in the United States, the proof can be an electricity or telephone bill, a letter from a government agency in your name, or an American bank card statement indicating your data.

California is the easiest and most convenient state for a car purchase. To register the car you only need a Title, or Pink Slip, – a document for a car and a smog-check – like our technical inspection. You can try your luck in other states by first checking the information on the Department of Motor Vehicle ( DMV ) website in each state.

How to purchase a car as a foreigner?

You can buy a new car at any car dealership – camper, minivan, or family – sometimes there are more car dealerships than supermarket parking. It is safe but quite expensive.

You can buy a used car from a dealer, which sometimes includes registration, but cars from dealers are, of course, more expensive, and then you can hardly sell it for the same price. Although the process itself is simpler – you come to one place, look at the place of the car and, if anything, you know where to look for a dealer.

It is cheaper to buy a car from the owner’s hands, but you will not have any guarantees that it will not fall apart in a week. Moreover, the process of buying and selling a car in California is designed in such a way that you give the owner the money and register the car yourself, and if there is something unclean with the documents, all the problems fall on your shoulders.

Vehicle registration

The process of registering a car itself takes 10 minutes if you arrive in the morning and do not get into a long queue. This must be done within 10 days from the date of the transaction. The price for the car can be indicated below, as tax will be deducted from this amount.

You will be given a registration letter with an end date, and the new Title will arrive in a couple of weeks at the California address you provided. It will only come in handy when you are looking to sell a car.

It’s a good idea to change the oil first. In Walmart department stores you can buy oil and an oil filter (they have access to a system where the name and series of the filter are issued by the car brand), in a car service they will take 15-20 dollars for work, or you can change everything for $ 20 straight to Walmart, and the price will include both oil and a filter, but the queues are sometimes too big.

How to sell a car in the U.S.?

Monitor the market in advance and compare prices.

  • Evaluate the situation with maximum realism: how attractive your car is to buyers, how much time you have to sell it, how much you are willing to give up to the buyer in the event of a transaction, what defects can be played in a favorable light.
  • Put your car in order – go to a self-service car wash, where you can wash and vacuum the car yourself. Eliminate unpleasant odors in the cabin, check the glove compartment and door pockets. Our car had stickers from Boomstarter sponsors, and we barely had time to remove them from the doors before the buyer arrived.
  • In a couple of weeks, place a test ad with the desired price and see how many calls there will be – this will help to adjust the ad and raise or lower the price level.
  • Set up a meeting place and time for the buyer, take the original Title (Pink Slip), registration application with you.
  • Fill in Pink Slip for the new owner, and enter your details in the “seller” field. You keep the Pink Slip spine as proof of the deal. Within two weeks, the buyer must register the car in the DMV, and you, in turn, can enter the sales data directly on the website to relieve yourself of tax liabilities.
  • Do not accept payment by check – at least you will be charged a commission for cashing at the bank, since you are not a resident, at most a buyer can issue a stop check, and you will be left with nothing. It is better to immediately indicate in the ad that you accept payment in cash. You can also sell your car for cash online without hidden fees, extra costs, or unexpected surprises.
  • Take a farewell look at your car. You’ve probably been tied by tens of thousands of miles and hundreds of stories about your unique journey along the roads of North America.

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Table of Contents

Process for buying a car in Florida as a Tourist/Foreigner?

I assume you already have your passport and visa papers in order because most passports only let you stay 90 days.

I don’t know the laws about driving in a foreign country. I assume if you have some sort of International drivers license you can drive in the USA.

But as far as the car is concerned if you are paying cash all you need is the title, a Bill of Sale to document the transaction and a valid emission certificate (inspection) if the state you buy the car in requires one (not all do). The state takes 30 days to process the paperwork and they will mail you the title. So you need to establish some sort of mailing address which is easy to do at most Post Offices and Shipping stores like the UPS store.

Sell the car when you are done with it. Leaving it sit for an extended period of time will just create deterioration problems

what is the minimum age to own a car in Florida?

A minor cannot technically own any property in his/her own name. Anything “owned” by the minor is actually the property of the legal guardian until the child reaches 18. You can put the car in the minor’s name (if they let you), but he/she wouldn’t actually own it until age 18.

How can I register my car in my name without a drivers license?

There are people with lots and lots of money. They hire a chauffeur to drive them around. The car is registered and insured in their name, but they might not have a driver’s license. I really don’t know.

However, the insurance will be an issue for you. I don’t know of any insurance company that will insure you depending upon why you don’t have a license.. You’ll have to check with them. But no insurance = no registration.

Registration and insurance allows the car to be on the road. A driver’s license allows you, the driver to drive that car on the road. They are really not related. They just use your driver’s license as an ID for registration purposes.

But check with the DMV. I could be way off base.

Can you legally register a car in Florida with a Guam driver’s license?

Here is what you need to bring to the examiner:

As soon as you have a lease or proof of utility hook up, you’re good to go. The rest of the stuff you should already have. You cannot register a car here without proof of insurance, which will probably suffice for proof of residency if the insurance policy has your FL address on it. Welcome to The Sunshine State, home of Florida Man!

Rent a car for a few days when you get here.

how much would it cost to register a vehicle in florida?

Not a clue try this

register a car in florida?

You do not need to be a resident of Florida to buy, own and register a car there. However, for specific rules concerning your situation, contact the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles. Also, the seller dealer should be able to help you with this. If you plan to take the car back to MA, it would be better to register it in that state. You can still buy a car in Florida and register it in your home state. You can do this without returning to your home state, too. The car dealer can help you with that.

How to register the car for Florida corporation if I currently live in Maryland and buying vehicle here?

I dont know laws, But just a guess here….

Your corporation can buy the car, and own it, it doesnt matter where the car gets registered. Thats just like you can personally Call up a car Dealership in Virginia and order a car, while you live in MD, there is nothing stopping you for from doing that. There is no law that states you must buy a car from the state you live in.

So Since you live in MD, you will just have to register the car in MD, get it inspected there. They still physically own it, But since the car will be stored in MD you will need to get it registered there. I do know alot of states have laws about that. When you register it in MD, you will just have to pay the Taxes to MD and such.

Most states have a law that requires you to register vehicles if you are going to be in that state longer than 6 months (which would be more than half a year therefore giving that state the credit for the registration and taxes etc). Insurance purposes might also make it difficult to have a car registered in Florida, But garaged in Maryland. Just a thought.

How do I register a car in Florida?

FAQs on Registration of Motor Vehicles

What is a registration?

A registration is evidence of having paid the registration tax and fees on a motor vehicle. It consists of a metal license plate, a validation decal, and a registration certificate.

Why must I register my motor vehicle?

In the state of Florida, a motor vehicle is required by law to be registered within ten days of the owner either becoming employed, placing children in public school, or establishing residency. Registering your motor vehicle goes hand in hand with the titling process.

How do I register a vehicle if I am out of state?

If registering a vehicle from out of state, refer to the rate sheet (you will need Acrobat reader) and complete the application for certificate for title. Mail the completed form to the individual’s local county tax collector or license plate agency in Florida.

How do I register a vehicle if I am in Florida?

If registering a vehicle in person, submit the original title, proof of Florida insurance to the local county tax collector or license plate agency.

I want to register my car in Florida(I am USCG) but the title is my moms in CA, is this possible?

Sorry, you can’t have it both ways.

The car is either your mom’s, registered in California where she lives, or yours, registered in Florida where you live. Title and registration have to match.

Adding your name to the title in addition to hers will only make it worse. It’ll probably cause the insurance to go up, and it won’t help you for military tax purposes. Typically, to qualify for any military tax exemptions, the car has to be solely owned by the military member. I’m a married Coast Guard officer, my wife has not “owned” any of our two family cars since we’ve been married. Cars are always titled in my name only for this reason.

My advice – transfer the car into your own name. You’re an adult now, time to start living on your own. Yeah, it’ll make the insurance go up in the short term, but it gets cheaper the longer you have it in your name with no accidents. There will also be some savings in taxes (you won’t pay any property tax on the car in FL as a military member). Finally, check out USAA – if you weren’t already a military dependent, your mom wouldn’t be eligible for it, it’ll probably be cheaper than the $260 you’d be paying through you mom’s insurance company.

For tourists coming to the US, getting a car is a great way to get around, especially if you want to see the national parks. Rental, especially for younger drivers, can be very expensive, so buying a car is a good alternative. The process for buying and registering a car is aimed at US citizens and not tourists, so it is a little hard to find all the information.

How can a tourist buy a car in the US to take on a road trip, and what steps must they take?

3 Answers 3

First off, don’t let anyone tell you it’s not worth it: you can find cheap cars that are very likely to keep running for a the duration of your trip. They won’t be in the best shape, but that’s true of buying second hand cars in general. If you are under 25 years of age, car rental will be very expensive and buying is (in my opinion) the better option.

When buying a cheap car, consider the total value as lost: anything you get back when you sell it is nice, but don’t be too disappointed if you can’t get your expected money back.

1) Check out the DMV (department of motor vehicles) regulations for the state you want to buy your car in. The requirements are different in every state. Florida and Georgia, for example require that you have a drivers license from that state. You may be eligible for one, but a drivers test or additional information may be required. All requirements per state are listed on (not a government website but accurate). I personally flew to Virginia as they do not require a local drivers license. As the state is on the East Coast, I’d say it’s a great start for a road trip!

2) Find an address. This is where you’ll register the car. I asked my Airbnb host whether I could use hers. There is no risk for the address owner, but you need consent, partly because there will be mail going to this address.

3) Get proof of address. For example, Google “rental agreement example” and fill it out for your name and the address you’ve arranged. You need this proof for the DMV.

4) Get a means of payment. If you want to pay for your car in cash, you’ll need to withdraw that. I personally opened a local bank account, wired in money, then withdrew it. Just walk into any bank, and use your new US address as the mailing address when signing up. Opening a bank account takes about ten minutes. Note: the bank will not let you withdraw your wire transfer in the first week after receiving it, as the foreign bank is still able to withdraw it. Allow for a week’s margin there (this bit me!).

5) Find a car! You can go to any car dealer that you think is trustworthy enough. Try to get someone to refer you to a good one that they’ve dealt with before. The dealer will give you the title to the car. This is the proof of ownership for the car, not the registration with the state.

6) The dealership may give you temporary registration, good for 30 days, or if it’s a small dealer, they may not be able to. If they do, the DMV system will ask them for the number of your drivers license (which you may or may not have). The application will go true just fine if you just have them put in your name.

7) Insure your car before you drive anywhere. This is a legal requirement! I called an insurance broker that charges a fee to find you the cheapest insurance option (adding the name as requested: “Right Answer Insurance”. They speak English and Spanish, you can sign all paperwork electronically and they know not to connect you to insurance companies that won’t insure foreigners). Through this party (or by directly calling an insurance agency) you can arrange your insurance over the phone. You’ll be emailed a “proof of insurance”: with that, you can legally drive. Note that as you don’t have a driving history in the US, insurance might be more expensive than it is at home. Expect upward of $150/month if you are under 25 (still way cheaper than what a rental company would charge).

8) Register your car at a DMV location. Any major city will have multiple. Get in line, tell them you want to register a car, and wait for your turn. In Virginia, you’ll be asked for a social security number or Virginia drivers license, but if you don’t have either, that’s fine. The dealership has given you the title when you bought the car. The DMV will take it and issue you a new one in your name. You’ll also pay sales tax (varies per state) of a couple percent of the sales value (4% in Virginia).

9) You’ll receive the new title, two license plates and a proof of registration from the DMV. With that, your drivers license and the proof insurance, you can go on your road trip!

As requested, how to sell your car:

1) First, make sure your car can be legally sold in the state you are in. There are state by state differences. For example, if you sell to a private person in California, your car must be smog-tested.

2) The new title you’ve received from the DMV must be filled out (by you) when you sell it. Make sure you complete all the fields and the buyer signs it. People that intent to resell the car might try to have you skip fields so they can have the next buyer sign the title (with the intent of skipping sales tax). Don’t be a part of that, it’s not legal. The buyer takes the title, you take your money. If you don’t feel comfortable selling to a private person, try to sell to a dealer. If you’re about to leave the country and need to sell your car at the last minute, you can go to a CarMax (I don’t mean to advertise but this is a practical tip, and they are nation wide): they’ll make you an offer on the car and you can sell it there and then.

3) You must remove the license plates off of your car. These identify you as the owner, which you no longer are after you’ve sold it. You don’t want someone driving around pretending to be you.

4) Call your insurance company and cancel your insurance.

5) Call the DMV in the state where you bought and registered your car to tell them you’ve sold it. If you are (back) in that state, you can go hand in your plates and get a minor refund (all though I’d keep them as a souvenir!).

When to do this:

A bank account is not the only way to get a larger sum of cash. You could get the cash before flying to the US at your local bank, or use a service like Western Union. Neither of those would take for than 30 minutes. Going to a car dealer, checking out and test driving a car took me about two hours. Getting insurance took me 40 minutes on the phone. The DMV wasn’t busy, I spend approximately 20 minutes in there. If you start in the morning, the whole thing can easily be done in a day.

As for minimum trip length, I’d compare to the price of a rental car, including the fees for dropping of in a different location. Consider the budget for the car, the sales tax, and the insurance. I wouldn’t go through the trouble for a two week trip, but if you’re visiting for a month it’s worth it, in my opinion.

Kristin Wilson – Orbis Relocation

Ivan Castillo – Secure Title Riviera Maya

How to buy a car in the usa as a foreignerThe cost to buy a car in Mexico would depend on the brand of the car, how old it is, and so on. You can find decent used cars that can cost you around US $5,000 to $6,000

The most important thing relative to cars in Mexico is that in Mexico you pay import taxes, which are already injected in the purchase price of the vehicle. Here’s an example. A new Jeep Wrangler, in Mexico, would probably cost you about $25,000. I believe in the US you can find it a little bit.

How to buy a car in the usa as a foreignerThe cost to buy a car in Mexico would depend on the brand of the car, how old it is, and so on. You can find decent used cars that can cost you around US $5,000 to $6,000

The most important thing relative to cars in Mexico is that in Mexico you pay import taxes, which are already injected in the purchase price of the vehicle. Here’s an example. A new Jeep Wrangler, in Mexico, would probably cost you about $25,000. I believe in the US you can find it a little bit cheaper, so the cost for a new car in Mexico is a bit more than in the US.

You can’t go across the border to the US, buy a car, and bring it back in order to save money, because there are regulations against that. As a Mexican, you can’t import a vehicle. As a foreigner, you can bring your vehicle here to Mexico, but you would need special authorization.

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Contributed by Savvy Finance, 08 March, 2016

Australia is similar to many countries such as the UK and USA – you will need a car to get to most places. So the logical step is to buy a car. Australia has to import most of its cars (after 2017, all of their automobiles will be manufactured off shore) and as such, relative prices are higher than equivalents in the USA, UK and even Japan. Here is a guide to finding the best deal, dealing with regulations, buying insurance and finding competitive finance.

Finding a deal on a car

The two major routes to finding a great deal on a car is buying from two major sources – private sellers and dealers.

You can find privately sold cars in abundance on the internet at a variety of used car classifieds sites such as and You can pick up a used car for much cheaper via a private seller, if you are prepared to haggle on the price. Be wary though; the private market is unregulated and there’s little recourse if things go wrong.

Dealers are licenced by the government and provide after-sales services and statutory or extended warranties. You too can haggle with a dealer, but it’s unlikely you’ll find as good a deal compared with buying privately.

Finding finance

Many financiers and brokers such as Savvy Finance will assist expats in finding equitable deals on finance or leases, even if you are not a permanent resident. This option may entail higher interest rates due to your risk profile and lack of Australian credit history.

Another popular option is to take a novated lease. This is an agreement struck between you, your employer and financier. A novated lease means your employer sacrifices some of your pre-tax pay towards the loan. It also allows you to pay for the operation and maintenance of the car. It reduces your taxable income and is a cost-effective alternative to providing you with a company car. Once the novated lease is up, the employee retains all lease obligations, such as paying off a residual (balloon payment) or starting a new lease.

Regulatory documents and registration

Registration, also known colloquially as “rego” is a mandatory process street legalising your car in all states and territories. You will need:

  • A receipt of sale
  • Roadworthiness certificate (also known as RWC)
  • A driver’s licence (local or international drivers’ licence)
  • Identification (your passport or other documents)
  • Permanent address – though some hostels and temporary accommodation can help you with this process.

RWC is a pivotal part of buying a car. If your car does not have one, it is not worth the trouble of obtaining one after the fact. Your car may need thousands of dollars of repairs to make roadworthy.

Most states, registration also covers compulsory third party insurance (CTP) which covers property and personal damage to other vehicles if you have an accident. This is not the same as third party property or comprehensive car insurance, which you must purchase separately.


Insurance premiums typically cost between $600 to $1,100AUD for comprehensive car insurance (covers damage to your car and others’ property.) You can lower your premium by agreeing to a higher deductible, known as an excess, or getting rid of other features such as roadside assistance. If you enter into a finance agreement, comprehensive insurance is often compulsory.

How to buy a car in chile!

One of the best ways to explore South America is by car. Having your own vehicle has many advantages ( you can read more about that here ). Throughout this post we’ll go over getting a RUT number, transferring the title and options for paying toll roads to get you on your way as quick, easy and straight forward as possible. We’ll cover everything that you need to know as a foreigner to be able to purchase your own vehicle.

If you want to buy a car in South America, you have two options to consider first:

Buy a Chilean plated car in Chile

Buying a local car in any country apart from Chile is not an option we have listed. It is either more complicated or expensive and most of the time it’s impossible for foreigners to leave the country with the vehicle. However it is still possible for foreigners to purchase cars in Brazil and Colombia.

buy a foreign plated car in any country

Buying a foreign plated car in South America is done using a poder (power of attorney) giving the new ‘owners’ permission to drive the vehicle but not ownership. Unless you can gain legal possession back in the Country where the car was originally registered the new ‘owners’ will never officially own the vehicle or have the title in their name. With all the potential problems this may cause we would not recommend this. Overland Title and Vehicle Services is a company based in the United States that will help transfer US vehicle titles to travellers legally.

For us the most logical option was to buy a Car in Chile and we can recommend this process. We never had any trouble at a single border crossing.

When you buy a Chilean car the only option you have to sell it out of the country is to use the services of Suzi Santiago.

Kristin Wilson – Orbis Relocation

Ivan Castillo – Secure Title Riviera Maya

How to buy a car in the usa as a foreignerThe cost to buy a car in Mexico would depend on the brand of the car, how old it is, and so on. You can find decent used cars that can cost you around US $5,000 to $6,000

The most important thing relative to cars in Mexico is that in Mexico you pay import taxes, which are already injected in the purchase price of the vehicle. Here’s an example. A new Jeep Wrangler, in Mexico, would probably cost you about $25,000. I believe in the US you can find it a little bit.

How to buy a car in the usa as a foreignerThe cost to buy a car in Mexico would depend on the brand of the car, how old it is, and so on. You can find decent used cars that can cost you around US $5,000 to $6,000

The most important thing relative to cars in Mexico is that in Mexico you pay import taxes, which are already injected in the purchase price of the vehicle. Here’s an example. A new Jeep Wrangler, in Mexico, would probably cost you about $25,000. I believe in the US you can find it a little bit cheaper, so the cost for a new car in Mexico is a bit more than in the US.

You can’t go across the border to the US, buy a car, and bring it back in order to save money, because there are regulations against that. As a Mexican, you can’t import a vehicle. As a foreigner, you can bring your vehicle here to Mexico, but you would need special authorization.

Buying a home in the U.S. as a non-U.S. citizen can be tricky, at least on the surface. If you’re wondering whether a citizen of another country can buy property in the U.S., the short answer is yes, though it’s easiest if you’re buying the property in cash. If you’re seeking financing from a financial institution in the U.S. to purchase real estate., as a non-citizen getting a mortgage is the most challenging part. However, if you are prepared to purchase property in the U.S., but you’re not a U.S. citizen, here is essential information to know.

Buying a House as a Non-U.S. Citizen

Anyone may buy and own property in the United States, regardless of citizenship. There are no laws or restrictions that prevent an individual of any foreign citizenship from owning or buying a home in the U.S.

In fact, many foreign nationals purchase vacation homes in the United States, and there are many wealthy foreign investors who purchase investment property such as multi-unit apartments or condos, single-family homes, and even business properties such as shopping malls. So whether you’re a new resident searching for a two-story home for you and your household, or an investor with interest in vacation property, there are several resources and options available to you.

Getting a Mortgage as a Non-U.S. Citizen

Buying a house in the U.S. as a non-U.S. citizen is simple if you plan to pay in cash (or have all the money saved to buy the home in one lump sum). If you’re not in the financial position to be able to purchase a home with cash, you’ll need to obtain a mortgage loan to purchase property. This is where the process can become more complex.

Your ability to get a mortgage as a non-U.S. citizen depends on your residency status. If you are planning to buy a home and have no intention of moving to the U.S., the only loan you may qualify for is a foreign national loan. Foreign national loans tend to have a higher down payment, higher interest rates, and you will need to have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (INTN).

If you are a permanent resident with a green card, a non-permanent resident with a valid work visa, or a refugee granted asylum, you can qualify for a mortgage. A lender will need to be able to verify the legal residency of the applicant, so foreign nationals whose primary residence is not in the U.S. may have a harder time getting a mortgage.

You may be wondering if you can buy a home with an FHA loan if you are not a U.S. citizen. In most cases, you can apply for an FHA loan as long as you provide proof of your permanent residency. However, in order to qualify for an FHA loan, the home you are looking to buy will need to be your permanent residence, not a second home or vacation residence.

Additionally, most U.S.-based mortgage lenders look at a borrower’s U.S. credit history to determine their eligibility for a mortgage loan. As a non-U.S. citizen, you may not have a U.S. credit report or your credit report may not have enough information for lenders to establish your creditworthiness. Therefore, it can make it difficult for lenders to analyze the risk of loaning you money to purchase a home. That means your lender will have to use another method for evaluating your risk as a borrower.

Due to the complexity of analyzing risk, many lenders simply opt to not lend money to foreign citizens. It may take you longer to find a lender who is willing to work with you, and it may take longer to get approval for your mortgage loan. You might also pay a higher interest rate. If you are concerned about securing a mortgage loan due to your credit, consider taking the time to improve your credit score before buying a home as a non-U.S. citizen.

Implications for Selling a U.S.-based Home as a Non-US Citizen

Eventually, you might decide to sell your U.S.-based property. Before you purchase new property in the U.S., it’s good to be aware of the rules and requirements should you decide to sell your property in the future. The IRS requires that buyers of property from non-U.S. citizens withhold 15% of the gross sale price to ensure foreign nationals do not evade U.S. income tax on their sold property. If the buyer does not withhold this amount, they may be responsible for additional taxes. The rules surrounding this are somewhat complex but are outlined in the IRS FIRPTA publication, and more information can be found in the International Tax Gap Series.

Working with an agent you trust, who won’t push you beyond what you’re comfortable offering or rush you into making a bad decision, is key. Work with a trustworthy real estate agent, so you know they have your best interest in mind.

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