Best States for Immigrant Auto Insurance (2021)

The best states for immigrant auto insurance are those that allow everyone to get a license, regardless of status. Without a U.S. license, the cost of immigrant auto insurance through temporary or non-standard policies can be very expensive, even with an International Driving Permit. The easiest states to get an immigrant driver's license and insurance are often those that also have sanctuary laws in place.

Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Joel ...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Apr 28, 2021

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Things to Remember

  • Not all states allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a license
  • You might be able to obtain insurance with an International Driver’s License
  • Auto insurance rates for immigrants will be higher because driving experience in other countries may not count, and you may be treated as a new driver

As an immigrant, there are a lot of things about adjusting to life in the U.S. that can be confusing. Auto insurance is just one of them, and it’s harder in some states than in others. The best states for immigrant auto insurance make things a little easier with relaxed rules and easy access to a driver’s license.

Whatever your current immigration status, you should avoid the risk of driving without insurance. That’s easier in some places than in others, thanks to laws in some states that allow you to get a license without proving your status. While you can get insurance with an international driver’s license, you will likely wind up with a non-standard company charging high rates.

Which states make it easier for newcomers to America to get auto insurance? Can you get car insurance if you are undocumented? We’ve checked the state laws and also provided average auto insurance rates to help you determine where it’s easier to start a new life.

The Easiest States for Immigrants to Get Auto Insurance

Can non-citizens get car insurance? While state laws requiring auto insurance are straightforward, the laws surrounding visitors and immigrants of varying status on the road are more complex. Auto insurance for immigrants varies depending on your status and your license.

Can a foreigner get car insurance in the United States if they’re just visiting or on a temporary visa? If you’re in the U.S. temporarily, you can likely buy temporary car insurance for non-residents, but you will need an international license.

Depending on which country you’re coming from, that may be a relatively simple process. With that license, getting car insurance for non-U.S. citizens is relatively simple, if somewhat expensive.

For immigrants who are making their home in the U.S., things are a bit more complex. If you were licensed in the country from which you immigrated, you might be able to get by for a short time by borrowing a car that is insured.

Driving someone else’s car with a non-U.S. license is risky, as the insurance company may have its own rules about covering drivers with a foreign license.

There are some countries with an equivalence agreement for licensing but if you have officially moved to the U.S., you will need to apply for a license in the state where you reside, in accordance with that state’s laws.

While some states will require that you have proof of legal status in the U.S. to apply for a license, others do not. What’s true across the board, however, is that you have to be licensed for an insurance company to offer you a policy as a driver.

Which states make it easiest for immigrants to get licensed and insured to drive? Let’s take a look.

The 10 Best States for Obtaining  Immigrant Auto Insurance

The states below have immigrant-friendly laws when it comes to driver licensing. We looked at whether the state will allow immigrants to get a driver’s license regardless of their immigration status, as well as whether they require drivers to have an International Driving Permit (IDP).

While we focused on the states that allow immigrants to drive with fewer restrictions, within that group of states we also looked at auto insurance rates.

All of the states in the top 10 allow drivers to get a license regardless of their immigration status.

From there, we looked at requirements for an IDP and rates. The number-one state is therefore the one with the cheapest rates among those states that have the least restrictive laws.

#10 – New Jersey

Average Monthly Auto Insurance Rate: $460
International Driving Permit Required: No, unless the license is not in English

Although auto insurance in New Jersey isn’t particularly cheap, the state’s laws do make it easier to get on the road legally. Immigrants here can apply for and get a New Jersey driver’s license regardless of their immigration status.

New Jersey is one of 11 states that have sanctuary laws for undocumented immigrants state-wide.

You won’t be required to get an IDP in New Jersey, either, unless your driver’s license is not in English. Of course, that applies to a large portion of the world, but if you’re planning to stay in New Jersey, getting a state driver’s license is the better approach anyway. 

#9 – Colorado

Average Monthly Auto Insurance Rate: $324
International Driving Permit Required: No, unless in the state more than 90 days

Colorado law will require foreign drivers to obtain an International Driving Permit if they’re in the state for more than 90 days. If you’re temporarily in the state for more than 90 days (as a student, for example), you’ll need to get that IDP.

If you’re making Colorado your new residence, however, you will want to apply for a driver’s license here. Fortunately, you can do that no matter what your current immigration status. Like New Jersey, Colorado is also a sanctuary state.

#8 – California

Average Monthly Auto Insurance Rate: $307
International Driving Permit Required: No, unless in the state more than 90 days

California is a popular destination for immigrants. According to the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), the state is home to about a quarter of the foreign-born population of the entire U.S.

Of those, it’s estimated that 22% are undocumented. Can illegal immigrants get car insurance in California? California does allow immigrants to apply for a special AB-60 driver’s license regardless of their status.

With that license, you can qualify for an auto insurance policy from a California company.

For those new to the state, there’s a 90-day grace period on driving without an IDP. If you’re staying longer but don’t plan to make California your home, the IDP will help you get insured. California joins the previous two states on our list with state-wide sanctuary laws.

#7 – Nevada

Average Monthly Auto Insurance Rate: $400
International Driving Permit Required: No

Whether you’re on a visa, in the process of a green card application, or any other status (even no status at all) in Nevada, you aren’t required to have an IDP. And you can also apply for a Nevada driver’s license no matter what your status.

Although not a sanctuary state, two Nevada counties have sanctuary laws: Clark and Washoe.

If you plan to live in Nevada, the latter is your best option. Many Nevada auto insurance companies may not be willing to insure a driver with a foreign license. Although there are some non-standard companies that might insure you, the rates will be much higher.

#6 – Maryland

Average Monthly Auto Insurance Rate: $382
International Driving Permit Required: No

Maryland law allows every resident to apply for and obtain a driver’s license regardless of their immigration status. Like most states, you are required to head to the DMV to get a Maryland license shortly after you move to the state. Three Maryland counties as well as the city of Baltimore have sanctuary laws.

If you’re in Maryland temporarily, you don’t need an International Driver’s Permit. Bear in mind that auto insurance in Maryland is required by law, and not all companies are willing to insure a driver with a foreign license.

#5 – New York

Average Monthly Auto Insurance Rate: $357
International Driving Permit Required: No

Once the landing place for waves of immigrants coming across the Atlantic, New York is still a welcoming place for new arrivals. The state allows all residents to apply for a driver’s license no matter what their immigration status might be. There’s also no requirement for an IDP here.

Can illegal immigrants get car insurance in New York? Yes, as long as you’re licensed. Bear in mind that newly licensed drivers tend to pay more for their insurance.

As we head into the second half of this list, the average cost of auto insurance goes down. New York auto insurance rates aren’t the cheapest compared to the entire country, but for states with immigrant-friendly licensing laws, they’re on the lower end. The entire state also has sanctuary laws for undocumented immigrants.

#4 – Utah

Average Monthly Auto Insurance Rate: $300
International Driving Permit Required: No

Like the other states on the back end of this list, Utah doesn’t require you to prove your immigration status in order to get a driver’s license. The state also has no requirement for an IDL.

Utah is one of the few states on our list where there are no sanctuary laws in any part of the state. However, the state laws regarding driver licensing and the low cost of Utah auto insurance still make it a good bet for getting licensed and insured as an immigrant.

#3 – New Mexico

Average Monthly Auto Insurance Rate: $289
International Driving Permit Required: No

With an average monthly insurance rate below the $300 mark, New Mexico lands in the top three states for immigrant auto insurance. Immigrants can get a driver’s license regardless of their status in the U.S., and an IDP is not required.

New Mexico is a sanctuary state, which is common to the rest of the top three states on our list as well. While this border state has a lot of controversy regarding immigration, the laws for drivers are immigrant-friendly.

Being a border state also means more access to non-standard auto insurance companies that offer bilingual services and can help drivers with a foreign license. That may include offering auto insurance for undocumented immigrants.

#2 – Oregon

Average Monthly Auto Insurance Rate: $288
International Driving Permit Required: No

Oregon is number two on our list as a full sanctuary state that also allows immigrants to get a driver’s license even if they are undocumented. The state has no requirement for an IDP either but may not have as many options for insurance on a foreign license as do states near the Mexican border.

What Oregon does have, however, is affordable auto insurance. That lands it a little higher on our list as a place where it’s both easy and budget-friendly for immigrants to live and drive.

#1 – Illinois

Average Monthly Auto Insurance Rate: $274
International Driving Permit Required: No

Landing at number one on the list of the best states for immigrants to get licensed and insured in is Illinois. Your immigration status doesn’t affect your ability to get an Illinois driver’s license, nor is an IDP required in the state for those with a foreign license.

Illinois is a sanctuary state, and the city of Chicago also has sanctuary laws of its own.

Illinois just beats out Oregon for the top spot on our list thanks to slightly lower average insurance rates. Of course, rates will vary based on a number of factors like your age, gender, and even ZIP code, so which state winds up having cheaper rates for you really depends on those personal factors.

All States Ranked for Immigrant Licensing and Auto Insurance

Below, you’ll find the licensing laws as well as the average cost of auto insurance for each state. Take a look at the map to see the data for each state.

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It’s notable that most of the friendliest states for immigrant drivers are found along the west and northeast coasts of the country. Also notable is that among states that border Mexico, only two allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license.

Rates are averages, so it’s important to remember that there’s a lot of variables involved. The best way to shop for auto insurance as an immigrant is to carefully compare your options.

Frequently Asked Questions: Laws on Insurance and Immigrants

If you have more questions regarding how auto insurance laws work in various states, take a look below for more answers.

#1 – What states have no auto insurance?

All states have auto insurance available, and most require it by law. There are two states, however, where you aren’t required to have car insurance. Both New Hampshire and Virginia do require you to be financially responsible if you’re at fault in an accident, but they don’t legally require you to have an insurance policy.

#2 – Can I be on my parents’ auto insurance if I live in a different state?

Most auto insurance companies will allow you to stay on your parents’ auto insurance policy if you’re away from home for school, even in another state. Once you’ve moved out on your own for good, however, you will have to insure your car at your own residence, regardless of state.

#3 – Can illegal immigrants buy a car?

Anyone can buy a car if they can afford to pay for it. Registering and insuring that car, on the other hand, will depend on the local laws.

Methodology: Finding the Best States for Immigrant Auto Insurance

To find the best states for immigrants to get insurance, we started with the states that allow licensing. Although there are companies that will insure a driver with a foreign license, that coverage is often very expensive and may be temporary. That data was sourced from the National Immigration Law Center (NILC).

Next, we looked at the IDP requirements in the state as a secondary licensing option for non-U.S. citizens who are licensed in another country. This data was found on the individual state DMV or equivalent website.

As a final rating factor, we took the average cost of auto insurance in each state, provided by Quadrant Data Solutions. 

Immigrant Driver’s License Laws and Auto Insurance Rates by State
Immigrant Driver’s License Laws and Auto Insurance Rates by State