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  1. #1

    Default buying and insuring a vehicle

    Hello all,
    I have just found this site and after reading though a few posts it looks to be fantastic!
    I will start with an introduction, my name is Jamie, my wife Hannah and I are from New Zealand, we are currently in France at the end of a 6 month, 25,000km trip through 16 countries in europe and UK in a tiny camper bought in London and fitted out on the cheap.

    We leave for New York on the 7th of october to start the America part of our trip.
    We would like to buy a Ford e-series conversion or similar vehicle for a roadtrip through california and some of its surrounding states, then on to mexico over approximatley a 6 month period leaving around the beginning of december.
    Hannah is an American citizen although she has never lived there and she has family in California.

    Any advice or opinions on the following would be really appreciated

    We are assuming it will be easier and cheaper for hannah to buy and Insure the van in her name as she is a citizen?

    will it be benificial for her to sit her American Drivers Licence?
    (we both have aa international driving permits, full NZ and Australian licences)

    Taking into account we have family and a base and an address in California is this the best, cheapest place to buy and insure a van?

    Any advice or links on Buying, licencing and insuring vehicles would be greatly appreciated

    Kind Regards
    Jamie

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Purchasing a car as a non-resident is extremely difficult, and actually not usually cost effective because most foreign visits are limited to 3 months - which isn't long enough to get back the costs of purchasing.

    If you're going to be here 6 months (you do have your visa lined up already, right?), and your wife is a U.S. citizen, then purchasing a vehicle should be much easier for you.

    I would recommend that she get a US Drivers License, which will make everything much easier. Having an address available to use in California could also make things easier, although California is state with high taxes and tough regulations, so that might not be the ideal place. California also wouldn't be real helpful if you are starting out in New York, because you'd have to fly to CA to start to get all the license and other paperwork sorted out. I would look at what rules NY and other northeastern states have to prove you live in the state, and see if you could qualify for a license in that part of the country.

    Once she has a US Drivers License, purchasing, registering, licensing, and insuring the vehicle should really be pretty easy, and there really shouldn't be any restrictions on buying whatever you want. Insurance may be a little more expensive, because she doesn't have a US driver record, but otherwise, purchasing the car should be a pretty straightforward experience.

  3. #3

    Default

    thanks heaps for the quick reply michael!
    we were expecting tofly or bus NY to chicago then to LA where the car hunt would begin
    we have looked into getting a licence there and have been told Hannah would need to do a theory and its up to the lady/man on the desk at the time weather she has to do a practical.
    certainly a bit harder than getting our Auzzi licences (show kiwi full -> get licence)
    but I Guess thats to be expected
    because I have been away from home for so long we were unable to sort my visa before we left so unfortunatly I will be on a 3 month
    we had planned to spend that 3 months exploring around california then drivie to mexico/central america for the next three.
    we have friends in mexico where we were planning on leaving the vehicle while we backpacked south america, then return with the hope i will be able to get a fresh 3 month visa.
    if not hannah will return to her family to sell the car and I will fly home

    none of it is as planned or orginised as I would like but this whole trip came about over the course of three weeks things fell into place so we jumped on a plane and left
    we have been planning on the fly
    stressful, exciting, spontanious its been a blast

    if it all turns to custard we will stick to backpacks hostels busses and cheap flights
    but we are determined to give it a go

    the freedom of a vehicle in europe has been expensive but we are very happy we pulled it off

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Won't Work!

    Quote Originally Posted by jammah View Post
    we had planned to spend that 3 months exploring around california then drivie to mexico/central america for the next three.
    we have friends in mexico where we were planning on leaving the vehicle while we backpacked south america, then return with the hope i will be able to get a fresh 3 month visa.
    i

    You need to be aware that when you enter the US on the VWP you have to have a valid ticket exiting the NORTH AMERICAN CONTINENT within 90 days. Going to Mexico will not be allowed. Going direct to South America will work. You should be able to get another 90 days on your re entry to the US from South America.

    Lifey
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 09-08-2014 at 01:16 PM.

  5. #5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    You need to be aware that when you enter the US on the VWP you have to have a valid ticket exiting the NORTH AMERICAN CONTINENT within 90 days
    Hi lifey! I have read through allot of your posts
    Your van looks amazing what a find! Hard work and reaserch payed off!

    We are aware of the visa rules I have a fully refundable air new Zealand flight back to NZ within my 90 days
    Which I will cancel when I'm in the country
    Cost three times the normal flight but fully refundable with no fees so no problem
    It was either that or tearing up a $100 spirit flight to Costa Rica

    I am hoping to find a similar van to you, probably not as nice. Though as I only have 5-6k to spend on it.

    I find the hunt just as much fun as the trip itself!

    Cheers
    Jamie

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jammah View Post
    I find the hunt just as much fun as the trip itself!

    Cheers
    Jamie
    And with the help from this wonderful community, I could never have done it. We have just clocked up 75000 miles together. She's going into storage tomorrow.

    Lifey

    p.s. I have never had an international licence.
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 09-08-2014 at 03:11 PM. Reason: add info

  7. #7

    Default

    Yep lifey google led me to that thread its how I found the forum!
    And the reason I signed up!
    75,000 miles is a hell of a lot
    Hats off to you :)

    Cheers
    Jamie

  8. #8

    Default

    So a bit more research and with the proof of address requirements we are thinking it will be best to get the drivers license in CA.
    Plan is to head into a social security office in new York and apply for Hannah's social security number, we read online it will take 7 days for them to post it so if we give her California address when we get to California she will have
    - us passport
    - social security number
    - something official addressed to her California address with her name on it (proof of address)

    That should be all she needs to get her California drivers license

    Here's hoping she doesn't have to sit a practical test! It does seem a bit silly, I mean if we are allowed to rent a car and drive on the roads with international licences then surely they are accepted as valid proof of competency so all that should be neccacary should be an admin fee and proof of identity.
    Should be but probably not

    My next question! :)
    With California license in hand can we buy a vehicle and change ownership in a different state?

    Thanks heaps

    Jamie

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    You can sell the vehicle in any state as long as you have the title (pink slip) in hand.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    According to the CA DMV website, she will need to take a behind-the-wheel test. It says that people with a license from another country will have to take the test. The test could be waived if the license was from another state. Since it looks like you need to make an appointment for that portion, so I'd just plan to do it.
    With California license in hand can we buy a vehicle and change ownership in a different state?
    Yes, but you'll probably have to get the car licensed and registered back in California when you buy it. Usually, you can get a temporary, transit permit to drive it for up to a month until you can get that taken care of. However, an additional note, California does have more strict rules for smog testing than most states. You'll have to look under the hood and look for a sticker saying it passes California or 50 state emmissions, and not just Federal Law. Most cars do have this these days, however, even with that, it will still have to pass a smog test before you'll get your license plates.

    Once you have the car registered, you can sell it in any state. You'll just need to make sure you have a copy of the title to transfer to the new owner.

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