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Transport and Driving in the USA

Driving cars has a long history in the USA and it is THE way of getting around not only for fans of the American muscle car. But this doesn’t mean that those without a car are going to be stuck. Public transport ranges from local bus and subway systems to interstate train, coach, and flight connections.

In most US cities, you will usually find at least a local bus system you can use for getting around. Especially big metropolises such as New York and San Francisco offer additional tram or metro lines and can boast a dense public transportation network. In addition, you will also find taxi cabs there. However, due to the sheer size of the United States, getting around the country as opposed to around the city can be tricky. This is especially the case when you are living in a rural area; you will hardly find an alternative to driving a car then.

Owning a Car in the US

You can, of course, try to take your car from home with you to the United States. Be aware, though, that you will need to be able to prove that it complies with a number of US safety and emissions regulations. Add to this the effort and costs connected to shipping the car and it is hardly surprising that buying a car in the US is often the cheaper and easier option. Once your car has reached American soil, or the purchase has been finished, you will have to register it. Regulations and requirements for this registration are – as with most matters of transport – handled by the different states and can therefore vary. In some, you will need to have regular safety and emissions inspections. In others, you might not even be obliged to have an automobile insurance. Getting one is, however, something we always highly recommend!

Driving Licenses, Traffic Rules, and Public Transport

Driving with a foreign license is only possible for a limited amount of time. Sooner or later, most expats will need to get a US driving license. The majority of transportation issues are governed by the states, so procedures for getting a driver’s permit vary. In most cases, you will have to pass a practical, a written, and a vision test. However, nationals from countries that have reciprocity agreements with the US can simply exchange their foreign license for a US one. Just like regulations for driving licenses, traffic rules similarly vary from state to state, so make sure to properly inform yourself. However, if you are not living in the middle of nowhere, you do not necessarily need a car. Public transportation may not be able to cover every town in the country, but there are nevertheless options of getting around the US by bus, train, or plane.

InterNations Expat Magazine