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Owning a Car in the United States

Who hasn’t dreamed of driving across the United States and exploring the country while traveling down the legendary Route 66? On InterNations you’ll learn all about driving in the United States, including information on traffic, laws, driver’s licenses, and import restrictions.
Do you want to import your car to the US? There are some things you need to keep in mind!

Admin Issues: Vehicle Registration

As you may have already noticed, the Department of Motor Vehicles is very important in the United States when it comes to vehicles. Not only is the DMV responsible for administering driver’s licenses, but also for registering cars and issuing license plates. Again, the registration of your vehicle will differ based on the state where you register it, but usually you need to bring the following to the DMV:

  • a valid driver’s license
  • proof of purchase of the car (car title)
  • a registration fee (can be found on the state DMV website)

Your car is officially registered once you receive a license plate which you need to affix to the rear (in some states to the rear and front) bumper of your car. A sticker indicating when your registration expires (usually after one or two years) is placed on the license plate. Your registration can usually be renewed online. It is illegal to drive with expired license plates and you will be pulled over by a police officer if you are caught.

Importing Your Own Car and Finding the Right Insurance

If you are interested in importing your car to America, you must be aware of the customs regulations. First and foremost, imported cars must conform to both Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements. The EPA has an Automotive Imports Facts Manual, which gives information on regulations and standards for importing a vehicle legally. The DOT also has a good overview of requirements for importing vehicles into the States. Due to the high cost of conforming to these criteria, it may be easier to purchase a car in the United States if you are planning on staying longer.

Apropos purchasing a car, the Kelley Blue Book is a very good source for finding both new and used cars across the country. It is also a trustworthy resource for figuring out fair market value prices for new or used cars and features consumer reviews to help you compare different types of cars.

Car insurance is mandatory in America, and the car insurance industry is consequentially huge, making the selection process rather difficult. The best and easiest way to find out what type of car insurance would suit you is to get a free quote from one of the insurance giants online. State Farm, Allstate, and Progressive are three of the most popular car insurance companies and all provide free quotes. The cost of car insurance is affected by different factors, for instance by age. To give an example, males between the ages of 16 and 24 have the highest rate of car insurance due to the fact that they also have the highest rate of accidents. If you are planning on insuring a leased car, the fee increases even further.

As neither vehicle import nor car insurance are simple matters, we have covered them in more detail in two separate articles.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.


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