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  1. Default 18 year old from the UK planning pacific coast highway trip. Help!

    Hi there,

    I'm an 17 year old student from Hertfordshire, England, planning a road trip for next summer, hoping to drive from California to Vancouver (by which time I will have a driving license). As I will only be 18, I do not plan on renting a car due to high premiums. However, I would be interested in buying a second hand car in California. Would it be possible for an 18 year old foreigner to buy temporary car insurance in the US?

    Any assistance would be much appreciated!

  2. Default

    You are going to struggle but I have some advice at hand and I wish you the best.

    I'm a 21 year old british student studying in the USA this year and I want to do something similar in the summer. From what I have learned so far, you will be able to buy a car and get the insurance although you need license plates and for which you need to be a US resident. Car rental is possible, even as an 18 year old although you will need to use some tricks to keep it affordable and it isn't easy at all. Will PM you some details.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Not going to be easy.

    Hi Luca, and Welcome to the The Great American RoadTrip Forum.

    Busying a car in the US as a non resident is virtually impossible. I have been trying to do this for around a decade. There are a few States which do not require residency, but they do require a local address, before you can register the vehicle. And you won't be able to insure it, until it is registered (licenced).

    My best advice to you is to contact Don. If he can't help you, be assured, no one can. BTW, I would call Don, rather than email. He is a little slow at responding to emails.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Please post it here.

    And Welcome to you too Jack, and thanks for chiming in with advice. However, may I request that you post here whatever information you offered to pm to Luca. It could be of great help to future visitors to this forum.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    There's just no good news or good advice to your questions that can realistically make your plans a reality.

    Its not completely impossible for an 18 year old to rent a car, but it is financially unrealistic for most trips, as it will include a minimum of a $50 per day underage charge. Its also generally impossible for one way trips, because (outside of NY) the only places that will do such rentals, with the surcharge, are typically small local, independent rental agencies.

    The other aspect is that it is practically impossible for you to buy a car as a foreign tourist. If you are here on a longer term student visa, then you generally qualify as a state resident which allows you to complete the paperwork needed to get license plates, insurance, etc.

    The reality is that traveling in the US by car as a non-resident under the age of 21 is extremely difficult to impossible. Even when it can be done, it is extremely expensive. For example, even in the rather unlikely event that you'll be able to buy a car, it would not be cheap. You'd need to plan to lose at least a few thousand dollars once you factor in all the expenses like taxes, license, insurance (which will be very expensive for someone who is 18 with no driving record/history), and the money you'll lose by buying retail and selling wholesale. You'd also need to have at least a few thousand dollars up front just to buy a roadworthy car.

    Sorry to be the bringer of bad news, but its just the sad reality of the situation.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Be careful.

    As you would have figured out by now, it won't be easy and it won't be cheap. Trying to find a shared ride might be a better option if you can find a fellow traveller[s] with a car looking for company and help with the gas. This comes up from time to time in the 'Share the Gas' forum where you could put out such a request, but you do lose your independence.

    Originally posted by..Jack Turnbull] Car rental is possible, even as an 18 year old although you will need to use some tricks to keep it affordable and it isn't easy at all. Will PM you some details.
    If you have some genuine ways for the younger generation to save money on rentals, it would be great to hear about it in the forums to help others in similar situations and would be much appreciated. Of course if any of the details to the insurers to secure a cheaper deal were incorrect, it would make the Insurance policy void if there was an incident and there could be huge consequences . Be careful and don't cut corners it's not worth it, particularly with US law.

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