Buying a car is a big event and involves several steps, even for American citizens. There are actually few or no requirements for visitors or immigrants from other countries who want to buy a car in the US However, it is important that you educate yourself on all the requirements as it will make the process easier.. Throughout the process, you will have some resources that may be helpful to foreigners in the US.
Part 1 of 5: Planning Your Financing Options
Step 1. Buy a car that you can afford
Getting a car loan isn't impossible for newcomers to the U. S., but there are some additional pitfalls. Look for the cheapest prices first (maybe a used car). If you can pay in cash, you won't have to worry about financing.
Step 2. Find out about the credit requirements of the lenders
If you need a car loan, keep in mind that each bank or credit union has different requirements around prior credit history. You will have to compare prices and ask. You can get a loan as a foreigner. Just be prepared, as you may have to pay a slightly higher interest rate.
Step 3. Consider where the car will stay at a later time
The lender may establish cross-border shipping restrictions as long as you don't pay off the debt. Also, if you plan to take the car outside of the US, other countries may not have repair centers for the vehicle or may require modifications to the engine in order for you to drive it legally.
Step 4. Go to an expat finance company
Before you move to the US, start looking for "expatriate car finance and loan companies." You will find various companies, such as Expatride, International AutoSource and many others. They provide expatriate loan and financing rates at competitive local rates. If possible, contact a company before moving to the US to take advantage of special offers and discounts.
Step 5. Compare the banks 'rates with the sellers' loan rates
Many buyers may not know that banks are not the only lenders. Most new car dealers handle their own financing as well. In some cases, if you finance the car purchase through the seller, you may be able to get a better rate than a bank or other financing company. Research conventional lenders first, and then keep these numbers in mind when looking for a car.
Step 6. Consider renting as an alternative to buying
Check with the expat car service to better understand which of these options is best suited for the duration of your visa and the length of time you plan to stay in the country.
Part 2 of 5: Get Auto Insurance
Step 1. Make sure you can drive legally in the US
In order to drive in this country, you will need a type of accredited driver ID. If you have a foreign license written in English, you can use it as a visitor or for a time after you become a resident (the specific time will vary by state). However, if the license is in another language, you will need to obtain an International Driver's License (IDL) through your home country before visiting the US If you plan to immigrate, you will have to change your foreign license for a US license at a certain time. Residents of the following countries could easily do so through reciprocity agreements:
- South Korea
Step 2. Learn about obligation
In most of the US, you must have auto insurance in order to drive. In order to drive your new car outside of the dealership, you will need to show evidence that you have auto insurance.
New Hampshire is the only state that does not require this type of insurance, but they strongly recommend getting one
Step 3. Find out about the insurance requirements for your state
Generally, each state requires auto liability insurance, but the minimum requirements vary by state. Additionally, lenders often require comprehensive and collision insurance for new cars. You will need to identify the requirements for the state in which you plan to purchase and register the car.
Step 4. Get affordable auto insurance
Compare prices before you go to the US or after you arrive for the best rates. The expat car service can help you get insurance at an affordable rate.
Part 3 of 5: Getting and Buying a Car
Step 1. Consider your needs
When buying a car, you will need to consider things like size (how many members does your family have?), The distance you need to travel, and whether efficient gas mileage is important to you.
Step 2. Research your options
Spend some time researching and familiarizing yourself with the vehicles you can buy. Manufacturers available in the US may differ from those in your home country. You can inquire about available vehicles with the expatriate car service clerk.
Step 3. Negotiate the best possible price
Prices for most items are set by sellers in the US and are non-negotiable. However, the cars are different. Cars have a price tag on the window. However, most sellers expect you to make an offer that can be a few thousand dollars lower than the price on the label. In the case of a used car, you can usually even bargain for more. These are some key aspects to negotiate:
- Do your research on the car you want before you start negotiating. Once you find the car you want, do your research carefully. Using online resources like KellyBlueBook.com or Edmunds.com will help you find the value of both new and used cars. This will give you a starting point to negotiate.
- Have a target price in mind. Before starting the process, you should know how much you want to pay and identify a higher amount that you would be willing to accept.
- Use pressure to your advantage. When negotiating the price of a car, let the seller know that you are willing to go and buy someone else's car. If you know the sale could be lost, you may be willing to lower the price.
- Focus on the price of the car, not the monthly payments. Many car dealers will try to negotiate the price in monthly installments, rather than the full amount. If you agree, you run the risk of adding thousands of dollars to the price without realizing it. Keep the conversation focused on the total price.
Part 4 of 5: Registering a new or used car
Step 1. Let the seller handle if you are going to buy it from one
Almost all professional car dealerships (regardless of whether you're buying a new or used car) will take care of registering the vehicle and getting you a license plate.
Step 2. Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in the state where you live
Every state has one of these departments (which could also be called a Department of Transportation, Registry of Motor Vehicles, or something similar). If you are going to do the registration yourself, you will need to contact this office or check their website to find the specific requirements for car registration.
DMV.org is a helpful page with contact information for all 50 states
Step 3. Gather the information you will need to register the car
In most states, you will need to gather the information listed below to register a car:
- A registration application, which you can usually download from your state's DMV website.
- The title to the new car, which shows your name as the owner. The lien could appear on the title if it has been financed.
- Evidence of a satisfactory service of the vehicle. In most states, each car must pass a satisfactory service in order to be registered. Some states also require an emissions or pollution test. You will need to take the car to a certified mechanic or test center to have it checked.
If you haven't registered the car yet, you won't be able to drive it to the service center. If you are buying a used car, you will probably drive it to the service center with the dealer's license plate and then you can register it in your name
- Evidence of insurance.
- Payment of sales tax and other registration amounts. Check the DMV page in your state to determine what you should pay. This will vary by state.
Part 5 of 5: Ship it to another country
Step 1. Choose the type of transport
If you decide to return to your country with the car that you bought in the US, you will have 3 shipping options. These will vary based on time, cost, and security.
- Vehicle Boats: Vehicles are driven directly to a boat and tied securely. Travel time across the ocean (from the east coast to Europe or from the west coast to Asia) is around two weeks. The cost is reasonable, but there is a risk that the car will be damaged or stolen.
- Containerized Shipping: About 6 cars can be placed in a locked container, which will then be loaded onto a ship. This is a more expensive option, but provides more security than the previous method.
- Air Freight Transportation: This is the safest and fastest method of shipping the car, but it is also the most expensive.
Step 2. Get the car through US customs screening
As part of the shipping process. You will have to show the title you received when you bought it (with your name as the owner of the vehicle) in order to pass the customs review. If you bought the car at auction (mostly for sellers), you will need the auction clearance certificate and a DMV report showing that the title has been reviewed.
Step 3. Protect the car and your personal possessions for the trip
Many shipping companies recommend that you remove all personal possessions from inside the car before shipping. Many recommend that you protect the seats and the control panel with plastic sheeting. You should also send the car to the shipping company with as little gas in the tank as possible.
Step 4. Remove the license plates and personal documents from the car
Before shipping, please remove these items. Make sure you have the title and registration certificate, along with any private information or personal identification documents, before you drop off the car with the shipping company. Bring these materials with you when you pick up the car at its destination.
- Investigate. Remember to inquire about financial services, auto insurance, and long-term rental options before choosing a company. Choose an expat car company that offers all of these services at affordable rates.
- Find out if you need an international driver's license before leaving your country. Requirements vary by state and how long you will be in the US In most states, you can get a local driver's license and keep the original if you decide to be a resident of this country. If you are only staying temporarily, you could drive only with your country's license.