Birdwatching
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Question: Foreigner Owning Car In USA?

Fri Apr 09, 2010 11:38 am

I've traveled a lot to the USA these last years, specifically to the west. Sometimes alone sometimes with friends. I love to visit the national parks or just be on the road.
So I've been thinking, instead of rental cars, couldn't I just buy a car, park it somewhere and use it whenever I'm in the US?

So here is the plan:

I would buy and register the car somewhere out west where it is easy to get cheap flights into. All sings point to Las Vegas. I would rent a parking spot somewhere easily accessible from the airport. The DMV visits, inspections and paperwork would be done whenever I'm over there.

Now my question is: As a German, with a German passport and driver's license, how complicated is it for me to own a car in the US? What would the paperwork / formalities be like? Are there insurances specifically for occasional / low-mileage driving?

Thanks for any advice!

Soren   
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oly720man
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RE: Question: Foreigner Owning Car In USA?

Fri Apr 09, 2010 11:55 am

Not having a US address seems to be a potential problem, as does where the car will be parked up when not in use.

Discussed here....

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1772848
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ajd1992
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RE: Question: Foreigner Owning Car In USA?

Fri Apr 09, 2010 12:08 pm

You can do it - Top Gear did it for a roadtrip (from Florida to Louisiana) but how you would go about that, I don't know. But i'm 99% sure you can do it.
 
varigb707
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RE: Question: Foreigner Owning Car In USA?

Mon Apr 12, 2010 3:25 pm

You may consider leasing, instead of buying it. Just a thought.
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N328KF
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RE: Question: Foreigner Owning Car In USA?

Mon Apr 12, 2010 3:31 pm

Have you thought about services such as ZipCar?
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falstaff
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RE: Question: Foreigner Owning Car In USA?

Mon Apr 12, 2010 3:46 pm

Quoting Birdwatching (Thread starter):
So I've been thinking, instead of rental cars, couldn't I just buy a car, park it somewhere and use it whenever I'm in the US?

That depends on the state. Some states, like Michigan, do not require you to have a Michigan address to get Michigan plates. I have a friend who lives in another state, but has his car registered in Michigan, with his out of state address on his registraion and title. Since Michigan does not require any kind of inspection there is no hassle with getting your plates renewed yearly. You can renew through the mail. The only requirement to getting Michigan registration is to have Michigan insurance. You would need to do everything in person the first time, but everything else can be done through the mail.

People do it with boats all the time, because a boat should be registered in the state that it is used in the most, not the state its owner lives in. Michigan considers cars the same way.
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falstaff
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RE: Question: Foreigner Owning Car In USA?

Mon Apr 12, 2010 3:52 pm

Quoting Birdwatching (Thread starter):
Are there insurances specifically for occasional / low-mileage driving?

yes, but that would be difficult to get if you are only going to insure one car, because the company will see it has your primary vehicle. I am a single person with two cars so one is considered primary and the other is secondary and it has a different insurance rate. The company rightly assumes that I can only drive one car at a time. Back when I had three cars one was only used during nice weather and sat in my garage all winter. During the winter I had storage insurance, which meant that the car would be covered as long as it didn't leave my property. If a tree fell on it it would be covered if I drove it on the road it would not. When the warm weather came I called my insurer and had my regular insurance reinstated.
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kappel
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RE: Question: Foreigner Owning Car In USA?

Mon Apr 12, 2010 3:57 pm

Quoting ajd1992 (Reply 2):
Top Gear did it for a roadtrip (from Florida to Louisiana)

Loved that episode, especially when driving through Georgia.
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ajd1992
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RE: Question: Foreigner Owning Car In USA?

Mon Apr 12, 2010 4:43 pm

Quoting Kappel (Reply 7):

Loved that episode, especially when driving through Georgia.

They drove through Georgia?   I thought it was Florida - Alabama - Louisiana.

Any news on if you can register and insure a car yet?
 
Birdwatching
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RE: Question: Foreigner Owning Car In USA?

Mon Apr 12, 2010 4:53 pm

Quoting falstaff (Reply 5):
Some states, like Michigan, do not require you to have a Michigan address to get Michigan plates. I have a friend who lives in another state, but has his car registered in Michigan, with his out of state address on his registraion and title.

That sounds great. Is this for out-of-state US addresses only, or could it also be an international address?

Soren   
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Birdwatching
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RE: Question: Foreigner Owning Car In USA?

Mon Apr 12, 2010 4:56 pm

Quoting Birdwatching (Reply 9):
Is this for out-of-state US addresses only, or could it also be an international address?

Looks like somebody posted this exact question, who is a German like me:
http://www.carinsurance.com/kb/content12661.aspx

Seems like the problem is getting insurance WITHOUT a US driving license.

Soren   
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corocks
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RE: Question: Foreigner Owning Car In USA?

Mon Apr 12, 2010 5:12 pm

What is your reasoning in doing this? I cannot imagine any scenario where this would cheaper than renting. Plus you have to deal with dead batteries, warped tires, etc - depending on how often you drive it.......
 
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falstaff
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RE: Question: Foreigner Owning Car In USA?

Mon Apr 12, 2010 5:21 pm

Quoting Birdwatching (Reply 9):
That sounds great. Is this for out-of-state US addresses only, or could it also be an international address?

I don't know, but it is worth a shot.

Quoting Birdwatching (Reply 10):
Seems like the problem is getting insurance WITHOUT a US driving license

I would call an insurance company and find out. I would go with one of the shady insurance companies around Detroit, like LOOK Insurance, because they deal with questionable things all the time. They usually only ask about money. They deal with the crowd that only has insurance so they can register their car and don't have insurance the rest of the year. You do have to have insurance in Michigan, but 1 in 5 in Wayne county don't.
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RE: Question: Foreigner Owning Car In USA?

Mon Apr 12, 2010 6:15 pm

Quoting Birdwatching (Reply 10):
Seems like the problem is getting insurance WITHOUT a US driving license

Is there an insurance company that covers both Germany and the USA that you could use? Does your current insurance company partner with anyone in the USA?

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