Go Back  British Expats > Living & Moving Abroad > USA
Reload this Page >

Buying, Titling, Insuring and Driving a CAR in California

Buying, Titling, Insuring and Driving a CAR in California

Old Feb 26th 2007, 6:14 am
  #1  
Just Joined
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 22
Usky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud of
Default Buying, Titling, Insuring and Driving a CAR in California

All,

After having reading the situation that Loopylorns has arrived at, i thought I would like to get some advice from the regulars here that know about California state requirements.

My Situation:
L1 Visa sponsorship from my company.
Full UK Driver Licence.
Will buy a car with cash - hope to have funds sitting in a US bank with a relative prior to departure.

What will I need in addition to get me legally driving a vehicle I have purchased in CA?

Once I have a SSN, I will apply for a local licence at the DMV, I assume that I also need to get the vehicle registered ...

I know there is info on the websites ... but in many cases it assumes that you are a US citizen and hence may not state all the tings that you need.

Any advice from someone who have been through this curve for themselves in California would be most welcome.

tia,

Usky
Usky is offline  
Old Feb 26th 2007, 8:48 am
  #2  
Just Joined
 
Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 24
virginiadare is on a distinguished road
Default Re: Buying, Titling, Insuring and Driving a CAR in California

Hi,

I didn't go through it in California but I did go through it in Virginia which is probably not too different. I was able to buy a car in cash...turn up to the DMV and after looking at my USA visa and UK drivers licence they were able to issue me a US drivers licence right away (although I already had a social security number). I waited 15 minutes for it. I was also able then get insurance on the car I had bought (which you have to have when you register the vechile in VA) across the street at a GEICO office...at a much better rate as I now had a US drivers licence instead of a UK or international licence..run back to the DMV...register the car...get my plates and drive away!

My only tip would be get your US licence as soon as possible...as the insurance works out cheaper....and just check with your insurers that they will cover you if you are not a US citizen. I got it in writing from GEICO that this was the case...as when I previously lived in Austrailia I had car insurance and when crunch came to crunch they wouldn't cover me as I wasn't a citizen...there was a clause somewhere in the contract that I hadn't bothered to read...

Hope this helps
virginiadare is offline  
Old Feb 26th 2007, 1:18 pm
  #3  
Account Closed
 
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,245
cabritpop is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: Buying, Titling, Insuring and Driving a CAR in California

Originally Posted by Usky View Post
All,

After having reading the situation that Loopylorns has arrived at, i thought I would like to get some advice from the regulars here that know about California state requirements.

My Situation:
L1 Visa sponsorship from my company.
Full UK Driver Licence.
Will buy a car with cash - hope to have funds sitting in a US bank with a relative prior to departure.

What will I need in addition to get me legally driving a vehicle I have purchased in CA?

Once I have a SSN, I will apply for a local licence at the DMV, I assume that I also need to get the vehicle registered ...

I know there is info on the websites ... but in many cases it assumes that you are a US citizen and hence may not state all the tings that you need.

Any advice from someone who have been through this curve for themselves in California would be most welcome.

tia,

Usky
I lived in CA for about 10 yrs prior to Kansas.

I don't know how long you can drive on your UK license, I'm sure insurance is a bitch to sort out. If you are planning on staying here get your license sorted ASAP. I also have no idea if you can qualify for a CA DL on an L1 visa.

You mentioned a relative, you may need them to help you and provide a car for the test (has to pass an inspection) or call a driving school for a quote. If you want to use a driving school or practice first you will need a learners permit, about the same app process. You may be able to rent a car??

Here is the order for you I think:

You need to provide SSN to DMV for license, so SSN first
Also need papers/immigration + passport to apply.

Take written drivers test (get the driver handbook to read prior from DMV office or download)

Take Driving test (you will have to be insured on the vehicle you use) + vision test at some point.

Get insurance sorted for vehicle you wish to purchase.*

Purchase vehicle*

Take proof of insurance to DMV to register.

Your driving test needs an appointment to be made.
DMV tip: Stay away from the most populated areas if you can and NEVER go there on a Friday or Monday.
Go back to the website and see what forms you need.
Hope that helps.

*Don't even look at cars until you have your license sorted and you have insurance quotes as that car you had your eye on may have insurance through the roof. And anything classified as SUV forget it.

Last edited by cabritpop; Feb 26th 2007 at 1:31 pm.
cabritpop is offline  
Old Feb 26th 2007, 1:41 pm
  #4  
BE Enthusiast
 
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 557
loopylorns has a reputation beyond reputeloopylorns has a reputation beyond reputeloopylorns has a reputation beyond reputeloopylorns has a reputation beyond reputeloopylorns has a reputation beyond reputeloopylorns has a reputation beyond reputeloopylorns has a reputation beyond reputeloopylorns has a reputation beyond reputeloopylorns has a reputation beyond reputeloopylorns has a reputation beyond reputeloopylorns has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Buying, Titling, Insuring and Driving a CAR in California

Hello again!

just to say, we did not have to take a road test in NJ just a theory test so did not need a car but again might differ between states.
loopylorns is offline  
Old Feb 26th 2007, 4:04 pm
  #5  
Account Closed
 
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,245
cabritpop is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: Buying, Titling, Insuring and Driving a CAR in California

Originally Posted by loopylorns View Post
Hello again!

just to say, we did not have to take a road test in NJ just a theory test so did not need a car but again might differ between states.
You will have to take the road test in CA. I'll bet you $100.
cabritpop is offline  
Old Feb 26th 2007, 4:18 pm
  #6  
The OC
 
MancMan's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2006
Location: Yorba Linda, CA
Posts: 41
MancMan is just really niceMancMan is just really niceMancMan is just really niceMancMan is just really niceMancMan is just really niceMancMan is just really niceMancMan is just really niceMancMan is just really nice
Default Re: Buying, Titling, Insuring and Driving a CAR in California

In CA you can only drive on your UK license for 2 weeks after arrival. You will have to get a SSN then go to the DMV to take a written and driven test.

To take the driven part of the test you need to have proof of insurance for the vehicle you are driving. If it is a rental car, the person at the DMV may be a jobsworth and not accept the rental agreement as proof of insurance. This happen to my wife.

Once armed with License and a SSN, rush down to the local car dealer to buy your new wheels. I would finance all or some of the car, even if you have the cash, to build a credit history. This will pay dividends later. Lots of info on other threads about credit.

Take a look at www.carsdirect.com to get price info. Don’t go to the dealer unarmed!

The dealer won't let the car off the lot without proof of insurance. So arrange that before you collect the car. There was a triple A office at the dealer I bought from so I did it through them. The AAA counted my UK driving experience and gave me a good price. Others went by the issue day of my CA license and I was 17 all over again. Ouch!
MancMan is offline  
Old Feb 26th 2007, 5:02 pm
  #7  
Bob
BE Site Lead
 
Bob's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2004
Location: MA, USA
Posts: 91,723
Bob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Buying, Titling, Insuring and Driving a CAR in California

google is a wonderful tool....search for CA dmv and through this forum and all your questions would have been answered.

Welcome to BE though
Bob is offline  
Old Feb 26th 2007, 10:30 pm
  #8  
Just Joined
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 22
Usky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud of
Default Re: Buying, Titling, Insuring and Driving a CAR in California

WOW ... All this to get a car ... I went and lived in Germany a few years ago ... it was much easier to buy a car ... I will have to re-think the car thing ... After getting inspiration from Al Gore's film I have decided to buy a couple of hedgehogs and some speeds tabs ... Whats the odds that there is a hedgehog equivalent of the DMV ... probably called HMV ...

All this aggro to get some wheels ... and have been advised to stay away from the SUVs ... heck was looking forward to a V8 4.8i SUV ... better make to with a compact 1.6 to keep insurance costs down ...

Does anyone know if there is a Pogo-Stick dealer in downtown San Jose?
Usky is offline  
Old Feb 28th 2007, 12:02 am
  #9  
BE Enthusiast
 
Joined: Mar 2005
Location: Bay Area, from Plymouth UK
Posts: 306
kevntrace has a reputation beyond reputekevntrace has a reputation beyond reputekevntrace has a reputation beyond reputekevntrace has a reputation beyond reputekevntrace has a reputation beyond reputekevntrace has a reputation beyond reputekevntrace has a reputation beyond reputekevntrace has a reputation beyond reputekevntrace has a reputation beyond reputekevntrace has a reputation beyond reputekevntrace has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Buying, Titling, Insuring and Driving a CAR in California

You might want to consider a long term car rental for when you first arrive (a month ought to do it). You will be able to use your UK license and you can take the rental company's insurance.

This will give you the time to get your social security and driving license taken care of, then you can look at purchasing a vehicle and getting your own insurance.

Best of luck.
kevntrace is offline  
Old Feb 28th 2007, 12:11 am
  #10  
 
Poppy girl's Avatar
 
Joined: Oct 2006
Location: Reno Nevada
Posts: 15,917
Poppy girl has a reputation beyond reputePoppy girl has a reputation beyond reputePoppy girl has a reputation beyond reputePoppy girl has a reputation beyond reputePoppy girl has a reputation beyond reputePoppy girl has a reputation beyond reputePoppy girl has a reputation beyond reputePoppy girl has a reputation beyond reputePoppy girl has a reputation beyond reputePoppy girl has a reputation beyond reputePoppy girl has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Buying, Titling, Insuring and Driving a CAR in California

Don't forget the smog certificate it has to be valid if the car is a little older its illegal for a private seller to sell a car without a smog certificate after a certain age?
Poppy girl is offline  
Old Feb 28th 2007, 10:20 am
  #11  
Just Joined
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 22
Usky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud ofUsky has much to be proud of
Default Re: Buying, Titling, Insuring and Driving a CAR in California

Thanks, Kev - I think that it is best to hire for at least a month so we can drive with peace of mind ... thanks for all the replies from you folks on the board ... all this research before landing in the US will pay dividends!!!!
Usky is offline  
Old Mar 3rd 2007, 4:44 am
  #12  
Just Joined
 
Joined: May 2006
Posts: 21
MartinF is a glorious beacon of lightMartinF is a glorious beacon of lightMartinF is a glorious beacon of lightMartinF is a glorious beacon of lightMartinF is a glorious beacon of lightMartinF is a glorious beacon of lightMartinF is a glorious beacon of lightMartinF is a glorious beacon of lightMartinF is a glorious beacon of lightMartinF is a glorious beacon of lightMartinF is a glorious beacon of light
Default Re: Buying, Titling, Insuring and Driving a CAR in California

Originally Posted by Usky View Post
WOW ... All this to get a car ... I went and lived in Germany a few years ago ... it was much easier to buy a car
That's EU laws and regulations for you.
For some reason, the USA doesn't want to have similar ties to the UK. Something to do with a Boston tea party, I believe.

... I will have to re-think the car thing
If you are living and working in downtown San Francisco, it's possible to live without a car (by using public transport, or renting a car for the days you need ot). Otherwise, you will need a car to live in Califonia.

All this aggro to get some wheels
No. All this aggro to LEGALLY get some wheels.
There are lots of unlicensed drivers out there. And a lot of them are illegal immegrants too.

As someone else said... when you come over here, get yourself a long-term rental deal (something like 2 or 3 months) whilst you get it all sorted out. Even better, get your employer to pay for it (relocation expenses)!


and have been advised to stay away from the SUVs
by whom, and for what reasons?


... heck was looking forward to a V8 4.8i SUV... ah! one of the smaller engined ... better make to with a compact 1.6 to keep insurance costs down ...
for a full sized pick-up, 4.8l is only a "medium sized" engine. Check out the spec son the new full-size Toyota pickup!
(And yes, people here use pickups as personal transport)

You know you can get hybrid SUV's? check out www.edmunds.com

You probably won't find a car over here with a 1.6 engine... well, maybe one of those GEO metro things do, but driving a GEO metro on the roads over here is like driving a Sinclair C5 on the M25 back home.


BTW probably the biggest component of you insurance costs is not the engine size, but your lack of US driving history. When I first came over here, I found an insurance company that honored by UK driving record.


Does anyone know if there is a Pogo-Stick dealer in downtown San Jose?
a good idea for the winter months... but San Jose in summer can be very hot. Make sure you get a Pogo-stick with air-con.
MartinF is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.