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Is it legal to own a car in the US if i'm not american?

Is it legal to own a car in the US if i'm not american?

Old Sep 11th 2010, 12:22 am
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Default Is it legal to own a car in the US if i'm not american?

I live in Mexico in the northern city of Monterrey (2 hours from the US border). I have a Spanish passport and I travel to the US under the VWP. I recently went to Dallas and my aunt there, was selling her car and I'm interested in buying it. But in Mexico you can't import a US car permanently.

What I can do is to buy it, register it to my name, addressed to my aunt's address, drive it to Mexico and apply for a temporary importation permit (at the Mexican side border) which lasts for up to 6 months (and it would remain with the Texans license plates), and when it is near to expire, go to the border and apply for another. Only foreigners can do this, not Mexicans, so I can do this cuz I'm Spanish.

The big question is: Is it legal to own a US car, if I'm not American nor I live there?

I don't know if I'd have problems when crossing the border to the US with a Texan license plate, or if it could seem strange or bad to the CBP officers that a foreigner drives an American car with license plates from Texas.

I reside premanently in Mexico.

Thanks in advance.

Last edited by gotenks2; Sep 11th 2010 at 12:24 am.
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Old Sep 11th 2010, 1:08 am
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Default Re: Is it legal to own a car in the US if i'm not american?

Originally Posted by gotenks2 View Post
The big question is: Is it legal to own a US car, if I'm not American nor I live there?
I think that there are a lot of bigger and more complicated questions regarding what you are planning on doing, but that one is easy.

Yes, it is legal to own the car.

Whether you can register it in the US, whether you are insured to drive it, whether you will have trouble taking it into Mexico or back into the US are all things that would concern me. The legality of merely owning the vehicle does not.
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Old Sep 15th 2010, 11:32 pm
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Default Re: Is it legal to own a car in the US if i'm not american?

Originally Posted by md95065 View Post
I think that there are a lot of bigger and more complicated questions regarding what you are planning on doing, but that one is easy.

Yes, it is legal to own the car.

Whether you can register it in the US, whether you are insured to drive it, whether you will have trouble taking it into Mexico or back into the US are all things that would concern me. The legality of merely owning the vehicle does not.
Maybe possible to have you listed as "registered keeper" but not owner
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Old Sep 16th 2010, 2:36 am
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Default Re: Is it legal to own a car in the US if i'm not american?

Originally Posted by RickWG View Post
Maybe possible to have you listed as "registered keeper" but not owner
How would that help with any of the issues that I raised?
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Old Sep 21st 2010, 2:29 pm
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Default Re: Is it legal to own a car in the US if i'm not american?

Teaxs might be different but IMHO there is no such concept as a 'registered keeper' in the US. At least here in NV the DMV likes to see your NV license number on the title application, plus of course you need an address to register the vehicle to. Oh, and you need proof of insurance, too.

I don't think that's a feasible approach, although I am a little surprised by the OP's statement that he wouldn't be able to import the car into Mexico?
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Old Jan 22nd 2011, 4:31 am
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Default Re: Is it legal to own a car in the US if i'm not american?

Originally Posted by md95065 View Post
How would that help with any of the issues that I raised?
Originally Posted by TimNiceBut View Post
Teaxs might be different but IMHO there is no such concept as a 'registered keeper' in the US. At least here in NV the DMV likes to see your NV license number on the title application, plus of course you need an address to register the vehicle to. Oh, and you need proof of insurance, too.

I don't think that's a feasible approach, although I am a little surprised by the OP's statement that he wouldn't be able to import the car into Mexico?

I know it's an old thread but I want to continue with it because I already bought the car.

In fact I could register the car in Texas with my Mexican Driver's license with no problem. I had to get an insurance policy which was a little expensive for not having US driver's license, but I could register and title my car with no problems.

Also I could get the "Temporary import permit" at the Mexican consulate in Austin to drive and use the car in Mexico with the texans license plates.

But here's where I already have doubt.

Will I be able to enter to the US with this car with the texans License plates with no problems?

What should I do if the CBP officer at the POE ask me why do I have texans license plates or something like that ? (that I guess they will ask). I guess I'm not doing anything wrong but I somebody knows please tell me.

Thanks.
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Old Jan 22nd 2011, 5:28 am
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Default Re: Is it legal to own a car in the US if i'm not american?

Don't you need to have a Texas address to get Texas plates?
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Old Jan 22nd 2011, 6:20 am
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Default Re: Is it legal to own a car in the US if i'm not american?

Originally Posted by avanutria View Post
Don't you need to have a Texas address to get Texas plates?
Well, the car already had plates (the previous owner left them on the car), I just made the title transfer. And yes, you need to have a valid address to register a car.

My uncle lives in Dallas and I put that address, and they sent me the title there.

In that part I didn't have any problem.
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Old Jan 22nd 2011, 5:11 pm
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Default Re: Is it legal to own a car in the US if i'm not american?

Originally Posted by gotenks2 View Post
Well, the car already had plates (the previous owner left them on the car), I just made the title transfer. And yes, you need to have a valid address to register a car.

My uncle lives in Dallas and I put that address, and they sent me the title there.

In that part I didn't have any problem.
Check out the Texas DMV...weird that the plates stay on the car and are legal, most states don't do that, but if Texas does, that's at least one thing easier for you.
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Old Jan 23rd 2011, 3:24 am
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Default Re: Is it legal to own a car in the US if i'm not american?

Originally Posted by Bob View Post
Check out the Texas DMV...weird that the plates stay on the car and are legal, most states don't do that, but if Texas does, that's at least one thing easier for you.
Yes, in Texas is legal leaving the plates when you sell a car (private sellers).

It's optional to the seller to keep the plates or leave them on the car, but in Texas normally it's used leaving the plates on the car when you sell it to a private buyer, unless you have personalized plates.

Only when you sell a car through a dealer you must remove them from the car. So I don't have any problem with that... Thanks for your answer.
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Old Jan 23rd 2011, 9:44 am
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Default Re: Is it legal to own a car in the US if i'm not american?

I would expect you will have problems.

Presumably it is a money issue, people do take cars to Mexico from the US. From memory there is an age limit where it becomes affordable.

I would try posting on www.immigrate2us.net, lots of people there who have one foot in each country.
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Old Jan 24th 2011, 4:20 am
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Default Re: Is it legal to own a car in the US if i'm not american?

Originally Posted by Boiler View Post
I would expect you will have problems.

Presumably it is a money issue, people do take cars to Mexico from the US. From memory there is an age limit where it becomes affordable.

I would try posting on www.immigrate2us.net, lots of people there who have one foot in each country.
Thanks you... I'll do it.
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