Can you get US car insurance with a Canadian license?

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Things to remember...

  • One of the main requirements to get auto insurance in your name is that you have a valid U.S. driver’s license
  • Some carriers have more lenient restrictions and they will accept a foreign license to issue the policy
  • If they take your Canadian license, the insurer will ask you to present proof you got a U.S. one within 30 days
  • If you don’t get your license in 30 days, the insurer has the right to drop your policy before underwriting ends
  • Have an abstract of your Canadian record so that you can get credit for having driving experience out of the country

The United States and Canada have a lot of similarities but there are also a lot of differences. The two countries may border one another but they each use a different form of currency and have extremely different rules when it comes to citizenship, healthcare, and vehicle codes.

Once you relocate from Canada to the United States, you’ll quickly see how different it is to live like an American.

If you’re bringing a car over the Canadian border with you, you’ll have to worry about getting new tags and new insurance right away. Enter your zip code in our comparison tool above to find the best rate for insurance coverage.

If you’re going to buy a car in the states, you won’t insurance coverage immediately but at some point in the near future, you will. Having a Canadian driver’s license can make things a bit tricky. Here’s what you need to know:

Planning Before You Become a Resident is Crucial


If you’re immigrating to the U.S. under an Alien Relative visa, a student visa, or some other type of work visa, you need to be sure that you have all of your paperwork in order before you start settling into your new home.

The best way to have a seamless move is to get your ducks in a row before you go. Here are some tips to help you benefit from the experience of people who have already immigrated:

  • Apply For Your SSN – As soon as your U.S. visa is approved apply for a Social Security Number right away. It can take up to two to three weeks to get this and you need it for all of the other business you’ll conduct.
  • Apply For Your Work Visa – As soon as you get your Social Security Number, you can apply for your work visa. This can take as long as 90 days to process and you need it to get a job.
  • Import Your Car – You legally have one year to import your car when you drive it over the border but it’s much easier to do it right when you cross to avoid issues
  • Get Credit and a Bank Account – Open a U.S. bank account and then apply for a secured credit card to build credit in the U.S.
  • Go to the DMV – Each state has their own laws but you’ll have to switch your license over to your new state of residence within 10 to 30 days

How soon do you need to get a U.S. license?

It’s best to apply for your SSN early one so that you don’t experience delays with the DMV. In the U.S., every state has its own motor vehicle agency that sets rules pertaining to registration, licensing, and auto insurance.

You have to officially decide where you’re going to settle before you can find out how long you have to drive with a Canadian license.

Most of the time, you’ll be given only a limited amount of time to switch your license to the U.S. as soon as your a resident. Being a resident means that you have a primary address in the state.

You don’t have to be a U.S. citizen to get a license. By law, if you’re eligible to get a driver’s license in the U.S., you must get one within 10 to 30 days.

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Can you buy a car with a Canadian license?

Dealerships aren’t concerned with where your license was issued. If you have money to buy a car or you can get approved for credit, any salesman will sell you a car.

Unfortunately, they might not tell you that buying insurance with your Canadian license can be more challenging than you might expect.

You can’t buy Canadian auto insurance on the car because it will be registered in the U.S. Since you have tags in the states, your insurance needs to be issued from a company that sells insurance in the states.

If you don’t buy insurance from an in-state insurer, the DMV will penalize you for failing to comply with registration and insurance laws.

Can you get auto insurance while you’re preparing to get a U.S. license?


If you buy a car or you import your car while you still have a Canadian license, you’re going to have to shop around to find a carrier that will issue you a policy.

There are carriers that will with certain contingencies, but not all brands will accept an applicant who doesn’t already have a valid U.S. license.

What will the contingency be if you find insurance?

If you find a company that will insure with your Canadian license, expect the agent to tell you to apply for your U.S. license right away.

Most states give companies at least 30 days to assess risk and decline an application. The company will extend coverage to you during this time but you have to do what the carrier asks to keep your policy.

If you don’t apply for a U.S. license and pass your driving test within 30 days of buying your auto insurance, the carrier will drop your coverage.

You will get a notice in the mail saying that the policy is being canceled within the next 10 to 30 days because you don’t meet underwriting requirements regarding your driver’s license.

The short answer to the question about getting U.S. insurance with a Canadian license is you can. Unfortunately, you can’t keep the coverage long if you keep a Canadian license the whole time.

Be prepared to make a DMV appointment and study for your licensing exam right away by reviewing the driver’s handbook in your state. Get quotes online to see how much insurance will cost you as an American and budget accordingly. Enter your zip code below to begin.

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