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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Stratford Upon Avon - England

    Default Driving up the Coast.


    Myself and 3 friends of mine are all currently on gap years. We are looking
    into traveling around america and canada! We have looked and flights and
    have done research in to the trip but we still have a few questions which
    hopefully you can help us answer.

    The route we would take would be done over a 2 month period. We would fly to
    San diego, travel up the west coast, then go onwards into canada where we
    would then head east to Calgary Canada to fly home!

    Our means of travel would be to buy a car and insurence in san diego and
    drive the route ourselfs! We are all 18/19 and all hold full clean UK
    driving licences which we have all had for over 1 year. What are the laws on
    driving in america? Are we legally aloud to buy a car in america and drive
    with our English licences? If we are how would go about doing this, do we
    need an American address to register the car or could we use our english
    addresse's? How would we go about getting insurence on the car, would we
    have to wait untill we were out there to do so or can we get
    some sort of travel car insurence?

    Any help and information would be greatly appreciated.

    Many Thanks,

    Freddie McArdle

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default One Tough Nut

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The main problem with your proposal to buy a car and sell it at the end of the trip, is that you are starting and ending in different countries. Unlike the EU, the borders in North America have gotten tighter in recent years, further compounding your problems. You should check out the links in this post for companies that will guarantee to buy back a car that they sell you, but again doing this across the border is probably going to seriously complicate matters for you. Once you've bought the car, getting insurance is relatively easy. Just look in the Yellow Pages under Auto Insurance and start calling around to get rates. But be forewarned, your age is going to work seriously against you. Typically car insurance rates don't start to drop out of the stratosphere until you turn 24, regardless of your spotless driving record. 12 months, after all, doesn't mean much to an insurance company. Your other alternative, of course, is to rent. But I seriously doubt that you would find a company willing to rent a car to 4 18 year olds, who want to cover thousands of miles in two countries, for less than the worth of the contents of the Tower of London.

    The one good piece of news I have for you is that, assuming you can overcome your other problems, your English licenses will work just fine. You don't even need to get an International License, since all that does is provide a translation of your actual license, and we can, with difficulty, read the Queen's English.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Stratford Upon Avon - England


    Yeah, i did think that would complicate matters! I have family out in Canada so they could deal with selling the car on once i have flown back to England.
    Thats cool about the Licences, we did think we would have to do a small test in California to be able to drive.

    How easy is it to buy a car? Could we just get an Auto Trader find a car for sale somewhere in San diego, buy it then get insurance? Do you know what the whole process if registering the car is and how easy it is to do? Could we just use an address of a hotel or somthing in California, or do we need a home address somewhere in America?

    Thank you for your reply, its much appreciated.


  4. Default Homework or research time?

    Check out the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) web page..

    You might all search a bit on the internet -- I noted several California universities had web pages which gave tips to international students on buying or selling a car.

    It's not uncommon for cars to be sold in the San Diego area to non-US nationals, so I suspect a dealer won't have any problems with this. A major reputable dealer will probably have all this information at their fingertips as well, but private parties may not. Do your homework just to be sure.

    A couple of things to keep in mind..

    To register the car and drive in California you need to have a level of liability insurance. If you're buying the car, you'll probably want to bring a copy of your insurance policy as proof of insurance from the UK. You might want to give them a call and find out how extensive their coverage is in the US and make sure it's still good here. (Just to make sure). Having a letter from them as "Proof of Insurance" (most firms have this as a standard form) is pretty much the gold standard for this.

    To drive the car in California it has to pass a smog test. California has the most stringent anti-pollution statutes in the US (and in the world, I believe) and almost all cars have to pass a state test of their emissions level every 2 years. If you're buying a car, make sure this test is up to date. If you're buying the car from a reputable dealer they'll handle this if its needed -- if you're buying from a private party, I'm not sure what is needed. But you'll need to show evidence of an appropriate test when you register the car through the DMV. If the car doesn't pass the test then you get a "fix-it ticket" which means you have to go get the car put back in compliance before it can be registered -- go to a mechanics, do some work on the car, replace whatever needs to be fixed. Hence you want this to be resolved before you finish buying a car.

    Lastly, are you a member of the UK Auto Club? (There are several branches I recall). If you are, you might give them a call and see if they have a standard packet on this -- and for their driving in the US information packet. There are reciprocal agreements between the US Automobile Association and the UK Auto Club. This may allow you to get maps, roadside assistance, assistance in registering a car, low cost insurance if needed, etc in the US -- including if anything comes up along the way (towing, recommended mechanics, tour books, etc.)
    Last edited by AZBuck; 01-29-2007 at 02:08 PM. Reason: Preferred Link Format

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