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Buying a Car to Drive in the USA

Last post 04-19-2012 9:15 AM by nigelmark. 110 replies.
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  • 10-05-2009 3:48 AM In reply to

    Re: Buying a Car to Drive in the USA

    I believe it may be possible for you to use the address of your shipping company agent to register the car.  You must ask them if you can use their address.

    If you have an address in Charleston, you can register the car in South Carolina, you can buy insurance, and you can get license plates to drive the car in the USA,  Unfortunately, when you register the car; you must also pay the state tax:  This is usually 5 to 7 percent:   If you buy a car for export; normally you do not pay the sales tax.

    If you can buy a car in Charleston and have it delivered to the shipping agent; you do not need license plates or insurance.  Then, you will pay no sales tax  When the car arrives in Valencia, you must get insurance and license plates from Spain.

  • 10-06-2009 7:59 AM In reply to

    Re: Buying a Car to Drive in the USA

    WOW, really wish I had visited this forum much earlier...

    Anyhow, I'm a Canadian citizen looking to buy a new Toyota car from New York and bring it back to Canada to save a buck or two. Most of the dealers I have been in contact with said Toyota does not allow them to sell new cars to Canada. Well, to be more precisely, new cars will have to be first registered in the States. So my questions are:

    1. Can I use a friend's address in PA to register the car under my name? I believe this way I don't need to pay the NY taxes.

    2. I think the dealer can provide a 30 day temporary NY license plate so that I can drive the car away. So instead of going to PA, can I drive the car directly to US-CANADA boarder and start the exporting and importing process?

    3. If I cannot proceed with the regular export/import process, can I go ahead and register the car in PA and drive it in Canada? Are there any legal problems if I drive a US registered car in Canada?

    Thank you very much!

  • 10-07-2009 4:14 AM In reply to

    Re: Buying a Car to Drive in the USA

    If you purchase a car in New York and tell the dealer that you will export it out of the state, you should be able to claim exemption from the New York sales tax.  You can probably obtain a temporary license tag to drive the vehicle, but it would only be valid for 30 days or less.  Unfortunately, the dealer will require you to give him your home address.  If you give him a Canadian address, he will refuse to sell you the car, because he has instructions from the manufacturer to not sell cars to Canadians.

    If you give the dealer an address in Pennsylvania; the dealer might accept that, but you might be technically violating the New York laws by using a fraudulent address to obtain the temporary license.  If you actually register the car in Pennsylvania, you will be required to pay the Pennsylvania 6% sales tax;

    I do not know the Canadian laws regarding the importation of autos or the laws about driving a car without Canadian registration.  I believe there is a Canadian government web site that provides such information:

    If you buy a new car in the USA and import it into Canada, you might be violating the terms of purchase which could make all of the manufacurer's warranties invalid;  You should carefully research that before you proceed.

  • 10-15-2009 6:33 PM In reply to

    Re: Buying a Car to Drive in the USA

     Excellent point! I sure dont want to break any laws for the sake of several grand.

    What about I have my friend in the State buy the new car and then sell to me after say a month? Do you think this would work?

  • 10-16-2009 12:57 PM In reply to

    Re: Buying a Car to Drive in the USA

    I believe your friend would be required to pay the state sales tax on the car when purchased.  You would not be required to pay the sales tax when he sells it to you, because it would be for export.  Thus, there would be no double tax, but you may be out the initial tax.

  • 01-03-2010 6:47 PM In reply to

    • Jaxy
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on 01-03-2010
    • Posts 1

    Re: Buying a Car to Drive in the USA

     Hi,

    Thanks for all the helpful information in previous posts!

    I am also going to stay for 4-5 months in florida and would like to buy a car. I will have a student-visum (J) and will study at the University of Nothern Florida in Jacksonville. It would be very expensive to rent a car for more than 120 days, because I would have to pay "unter-25-years" surchage and many taxes and insurances, so a purchase may be a better option.

    With my campus or off-campus apartment I will have an permanent adress during my stay.  Would it be possible for me to buy any car to insure and register in the state of Florida?

     Thank you!

  • 01-04-2010 11:46 AM In reply to

    Re: Buying a Car to Drive in the USA

    If you want to buy a car in the USA and ship it to Europe, you can do it.

    If you buy the car in Charleston, you could ask the seller to deliver the car to the shipping agent at the port.  You would not need to register the car in South Carolina or to have license plates from South Carolina.  To export the car, you only need the papers saying that you own the car.  You do not need registration papers or license plates.  If the seller will not deliver the car to the port, you can pay a truck to haul the car to the port.

    If you buy the car in South Carolina, and wish to drive it to the port, you can purchase temporary license plates that allow you to drive the car for up to 30 days until the car will be exported out of the state.  To do this, you must find some insurance for the 30 days.

    You can easily ship the car to Valencia without US registration or US license plates.  In Spain, you would need to purchase some insurance and some EU license plates to drive it to your home.  I do not know the rules in Spain, but the automobile shipping agency should be able to assist you. 

  • 04-19-2010 4:31 AM In reply to

    • gustav
    • Top 50 Contributor
    • Joined on 07-16-2009
    • Posts 9

    Re: Buying a Car to Drive in the USA

    I just thought I would add a post-script to my original query eight months down the line. The marina address was not a problem as far as registering the car with the Florida Dept. of Motor Vehicles was concerned. All I had to do was produce my annual marina contract and show a couple of invoices addressed to me at the marina, as proof of the address. The problem was insurance. To register the vehicle, you need to produce evidence of insurance, as well as address. US insurance companies do not seem very keen to insure people who do not have US or Canadian driver's licenses. With my UK license I had several point blank refusals and some ridiculously high premium quotes. In the end I decided to take the Florida Driving Test. I had to take the driven part of the test, as well as the 'written'. Had I been from France or Germany I would not have had to take the driven part, presumably as those countries drive on the same side of the road as the US. The total cost was less than $50 and it was not difficult, although the burocracy involved took a little patience. What I had not foreseen was that the licence would only run as long as my visa was valid and so would have to be renewed either every three or six months, depending whether you have entered on the Visa Waiver Proramme, or have a 'full' visa. This is pretty tiresome and I will have to pay a late renewal fee if I am out of the US when it expires, as it cannot be renewed on-line due to the visa needing to be shown at renewal. State Farm Insurance were very helpful and quite reasonable for insurance cover, but if anyone out there knows of a US insurance company that will cover me driving on my (clean) UK license, at a reasonable cost, I would be interested to hear. Incidentally, be aware that it is not cheap to change title and register a vehicle, at least in Florida. The registration tags (number plates) are reasonable at around $80 per year to renew, but the whole process to register the change of title, including the tags charge, was just over $400. Also be aware that sales tax is due on the price you paid to buy the vehicle, so the cheaper the selling price shown on the original certificate of title when changing registration, the less sales tax payable, if you get my drift... Good luck!

  • 04-30-2010 4:18 PM In reply to

    • stefy
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on 04-30-2010
    • Posts 1

    Re: Buying a Car to Drive in the USA

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for your clear and complete information. I have another doubt you might be able to answer.

    As a tourist, I have a french driving license. Do I need an international driving license to drive an american car and if it is the case, where do I have to go to to get this paper?

    Thank you, Stephanie

  • 05-01-2010 8:20 AM In reply to

    • gustav
    • Top 50 Contributor
    • Joined on 07-16-2009
    • Posts 9

    Re: Buying a Car to Drive in the USA

    Hi Stephanie.

    You WILL require an International Drivers Permit (IDP) to drive in the USA with a French licence. To obtain an IDP in France you need to apply at your local Prefecture (some sous-Prefectures also offer this service). You will need to produce the following documents:

    Valid French Drivers Licence

    Valid photo ID (Passport or Carte de Sejour)

    2 recent photographs (Passport type)

    Proof of Address (justificat) such as water or electricity bills.

    That's it!  Best of luck.

  • 05-02-2010 3:19 PM In reply to

    • Dave
    • Top 500 Contributor
    • Joined on 04-26-2010
    • Posts 2

    Re: Buying a Car to Drive in the USA

    Mike,

    Great information about buying a car in the USA. However I haven't found any information on the Internet about my situation. I'll be arriving to the USA shortly as an exchange student. Can I register a car in my name with my student visa?

    Best,

    David

  • 05-04-2010 8:07 PM In reply to

    Re: Buying a Car to Drive in the USA

    First of all, I am not sure that you ever need an International Driver's license to drive in the USA.  Nearly all of the car rental agencies will accept any valid driver's license from another country.

    If you will be in the USA as an exchange student, you should have an address where you will live in a state.  With that address, and valid liability insurance, you should be able to register a car in that state.

  • 05-06-2010 5:01 AM In reply to

    • Dave
    • Top 500 Contributor
    • Joined on 04-26-2010
    • Posts 2

    Re: Buying a Car to Drive in the USA

    Mike,

    I have an address and there are insurance companies that allow exchange students to get insurance, so then it shouldn't be any problems.

    Thank you,

    David

  • 05-20-2010 8:06 AM In reply to

    • gustav
    • Top 50 Contributor
    • Joined on 07-16-2009
    • Posts 9

    Re: Buying a Car to Drive in the USA

    The rules are if you have a driver's licence from another country that is NOT PRINTED IN ENGLISH, you WILL require an International Driver's Permit (IDP). These are in effect just a translation of your existing Driver's License showing what classes of vehicle you are entitled to drive and what restrictions (if any) you may have on your license in the country of issue.

    That said, US car rental agencies generally do not seem to insist on this requirement, as Mike has stated. Problems can arise though if you are stopped by the Police/State Troopers/Sherriff's Dept. and asked to produce your license. If they cannot understand it because it is in a foreign language, you could find yourself in trouble. Also, if you intend to buy, register or insure a car to drive in the US, you will almost certainly need an IDP. 

     Bottom line: If your Driver's License is NOT in English, get an IDP, they are easy to obtain, inexpensive and could save you a lot of bother.  

  • 05-29-2010 12:01 AM In reply to

    Re: Buying a Car to Drive in the USA

    I have shipped several cars to friends living in Europe.  I sent the vehicles to Antwerp on roll-on-roll-off car shipping vessels.  I only sent the ownership papers with the car. There were no license plates.

    The people who received the cars in Europe, were able to obtain temporary license plates and temporary insurance before they picked up the cars in Antwerp.  I don't know how they did it.  I know nothing about the car regulations in any of the EU countries.

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