Can you get car insurance for non-US residents?

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Getting car insurance can be a bit more challenging when you’re not a U.S. resident. While it is difficult, it’s not impossible if you follow the appropriate steps.

Since auto insurance is a requirement in most U.S. states, learning about compulsory auto insurance laws is a must before you get behind the wheel of any car.

Before you can be insured to drive in the U.S., you need to be licensed to drive. If you’re planning a short vacation or a longer stay for work or school, it’s important to familiarize yourself with rules and laws that apply to non-U.S. residents.

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Apply for Your International Driving Permit Before You Leave


If you have a valid driver’s license issued in your country of origin, you can’t use your foreign driver’s license to drive in the U.S.

Instead, you must apply for an International Driving Permit, which is an acceptable license that can be written in nine different languages and is accepted in most countries.

You can’t apply for your International Driving Permit in the U.S. after you’ve arrived.

You must apply for the permit before you leave your home country. Simply fill out an application through your local automobile association, pay the fee, and present your identification to get your permit.

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Insuring a Rental Car on Your Trip

If you’re only visiting the U.S. for a short time, the best option to get around is to rent a car.

Your International Driving Permit grants you permission to drive, and by renting a car, you will have access to your own transportation wherever you go.

Getting insurance when you’re renting is simple, even as a non-resident.

The best option for getting insurance on a rental car when you don’t have a U.S. driver’s license is to purchase the supplemental insurance that’s offered at the rental counter.

Many experts tell drivers to decline rental insurance, but that’s only suggested if you have coverage in the U.S.

If you don’t have your own coverage, you should carry some or all of the supplemental insurance options below:

  • Supplemental Liability Insurance provides you with one million dollars of third-party liability coverage that pays for medical bills and repairs
  • Collision Damage Waiver – pays for the repairs needed to restore a rental car after it’s damaged due to a covered loss
  • Personal Effects Coverage will pay to replace property if it’s stolen or damaged while it’s being transported in the car
  • Personal Accident Insurance pays for you and your family’s medical treatment if you suffer injuries in an auto accident

Before You Buy a Car, Familiarize Yourself with the Car Insurance Laws


If you are going to be staying in the U.S. for longer than a month, it may make the most financial sense to buy your own car.

You don’t have to be a resident to buy a car and register it in the state, but you do have to comply with the state compulsory insurance laws at all times when you’re the legal owner of the car.

Auto insurance is required in virtually every state.

While the limits and rules vary from state to state, most officials require drivers to carry Bodily Injury Liability and Property Damage Liability coverage.

These coverage options help compensate a third-party driver when you cause an accident. You may also have to carry Medical Payments and Uninsured Motorist Coverage to satisfy some state laws.

Can you get insurance on a car that you own without being a resident?

Every insurance company has its own underwriting requirements. An International Driving Permit grants you permission to drive temporarily in the United States, but having a permit doesn’t guarantee that you’ll qualify for traditional insurance.

You have to find a company with lenient rules that will accept your valid foreign license.

It’s more typical for a company to issue a standard policy to a driver with a foreign license if they can meet the U.S. licensing requirement after 45 to 60 days.

If you can’t satisfy the licensing requirements by the end of the 60-day period, the company will cancel your policy and you will receive a refund for unearned premiums.

Can you get a U.S. driver’s license without being a citizen?


It’s far easier to find auto insurance when you have a U.S. driver’s license. You don’t have to be a citizen to qualify for a driver’s license in most states. You do need to establish residency in the state.

Some acceptable ways to establish residency so that you can get a U.S. license include:

  • You engage in trade in the state
  • You accept an employment offer in the state
  • Your children are enrolled in public school
  • You have lived in the state for more than 30 days

If you can’t get traditional insurance, you have the option to buy a short-term specialty policy until you can. Make sure to have a copy of your abstract driving report to show how long you’ve been driving for credits.

Once you have everything that you need to shop around, use an online rate comparison tool to compare premiums for standard coverage and short-term coverage. With these instant quotes, you can find the most affordable option.

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