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  1. #1

    Default An Englishman Abroad

    I'm trying to find out if I can buy a vehicle in the USA as an English guy on a uk passport? The plan was for my son and I to buy something on ebay or internet, fly across and collect, get temp tags, drive to Pennsylvania where we have an Uncle with an address. Re Tag car with PA plates. Then Son goes on Roadtrip for 90 days (visa limit) then I come back, takeover car and go on my roadtrip.

    Problem is PA DMV says I need to be a resident of PA to plate car in PA. Anyone got any ideas on this...I've looked all over the net but all I get is conflicting advice. I'm in my fifties and my son is 21. Insurance seems possible but registration seems different in every state. I only have a relative in PA. We could both get International Driving Licences if needed. It was a lot easier when I hitched round in '73.

    I'd appreciate any informed advice......Ed

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default very challenging

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    What you are trying to do is extremely difficult. You generally need to be able to prove that you are a resident of a state, and you can't really do that when you are traveling on a Visa Waiver. Having an international drivers license won't give you anything your standard UK license already provides, so that's not really relevant to the discussion.

    The key will be able to prove that you are "living" with your uncle, and I'm not sure what PA requires for that proof. Quite frankly the easiest way to do this is to see if your uncle will buy a car for you and put it in his name. There are some additional risks for him, and he'll likely have to put your names on his insurance (meaning higher rates especially with your 21 year old son.) If you can work out a deal with him, that's what I would recommend.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    Michael is of course, quite right. There are huge risks for the person who agrees to purchase in his name and put you on their insurance policy, in this litigeous society.

    For the last 4 months I have been driving such a vehicle. The friend who put me on her policy is aware of the possible implications, and I am constantly on edge to make sure she will never be sued for an accident which could be attributed to me. If you can live with the stress and are aware of the behaviour on the roads across the USA, all should be well. But I would think twice about allowing your son to be on the piolicy.

    Lifey who would love to buy her own car

  4. #4

    Default An Englishman Abroad

    Thank you both for such quick replies. Unfortunately you are confirming what I feared. I had thought that my Uncle could do as you suggest but I agree I wouldn't even want to ask him to take the risk for a 21 year old.
    I did find a chap in Nevada who has provided an address to travellers but having read the Nevada DMV site even that seems dubious. Maybe I should just emigrate....but then...would you want me?
    I'll leave this post and see if anyone else comes up with any other ideas.

    Thanks for advice so far.....Ed

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Toronto Ontario Canada

    Default An idea for you?

    I am by no means an expert in this field, but I'll share an experience with you. I live in Toronto Canada and a couple of years back I was touring Las Vegas and found a 1968 Charger I just had to have. I flew one way to Vegas, filled out the paperwork with my Canadian address, insured it with my Canadian carrier and drove it 2500 miles home on the temporary permit that the car dealer supplied (awesome trip!). I met a number of local law enforcement folks on the way home in several different states and they all seemed to think this was a "legal" way of doing it. If memory serves the permit was good for thirty days. The catch was that my insurance company had to be recognized in the USA which it was. The dealer that sold me the car did not seem overly concerned where I came from as long as I signed his bill of sale and paid in cash. Would this work for you?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default not the same

    Buying a car as a Canadian Visitor and as an English/European visitor is kind of an Apples and Oranges situation. US and Canadian licenses and insurance are valid on both sides of the border, so being a Canadian resident isn't all that much different than being a US resident in this case. The one extra hurdle there is Customs, which can make it a bit more complicated to purchase a car and then import it across the border, but otherwise the process isn't much different than buying a car in Nevada, and then driving it back to a different US state.

    The other aspect is that you were keeping the car. In many states you can get a transit or temporary plate to get to a different state, but once you get there, you have to register it (and pay taxes), before you can resell it again. The registration process is also where you'd retitle the car into your name, which is needed before you could sell it again (even to a junkyard).

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