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back to index backGLOBALtalk July,  2014


A Global Mobility Manager's Guide: Obtaining expat vehicles in the U.S.A.

When relocating to the U.S., expats are generally unaware of the myriad of obstacles awaiting them when trying to obtain a vehicle. With most people needing transport to get to and from work, this can be a tricky process for those who do not have the facts.

Here are some of the most common obstacles when an Expat tries to finance, lease or purchase a vehicle in the U.S.A..

Lack of credit history

Expats will normally want to finance or lease their vehicle in the United States. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to obtain credit for an auto loan or lease without any type of U.S. credit history.

If they are able to gain credit in the United States without a U.S. credit history, the interest rate will be extremely high compared to those with a U.S. credit history.

Finding the right vehicle

Selecting the right vehicle is very important. This can be determined by asking your assignee a few simple questions:

- Where are they moving?

- How many people are in their family?

- Would they prefer to lease or finance a new or used vehicle?

- What is the single most important thing they will require from this vehicle?

Car insurance

After purchasing or leasing a vehicle auto insurance will need to be obtained. It is a requirement of their financial institution to have auto insurance in place if the expat has a loan or a lease on the vehicle. Auto insurance rates are determined by two factors;

1.      U.S. driving history

2.      U.S. credit history

Similar in difficulty to obtaining a loan, the criteria for obtaining auto insurance as an expat can be even harder!

Obtaining a U.S. driver's license

Obtaining a U.S. driver's license will be a requirement in some states to register and license a vehicle however; there are a handful of states that will only require you to have an overseas or international driver's license. It is suggested that your assignee obtains an overseas/international driver's license before arriving in the U.S. as this will help with the transition to a U.S. driver's license. In addition, they may be required to take a written test or road test depending on location.

Registration and licensing

The vehicle will have to be registered to a name before it is ready to drive. To register, it will be required to provide a driver's license as detailed above and proof of insurance. At the time of registration it will be required to pay the sales tax for the vehicle. Unfortunately, in the U.S., sales tax is not included in the original price and is paid at the time of delivery and registration. If leasing a vehicle, the sales tax will be included in the monthly investment.

If purchasing a vehicle through a private party, the following documents will need to be provided to the Department of Motor Vehicles;

- Title for the vehicle (provided by the seller)

- Bill of Sale or letter from the seller including the vehicle type (year, make and model), selling price and vehicle identification number (VIN)

- Proof of auto insurance

- U.S. driver's license or the specific state requirements for those without a U.S. driver's license

When obtaining a vehicle through or a local dealership or certain suppliers, the registration will be completed on behalf of the driver.

Upon registering the vehicle it will be required to pay the license plates and registration fees, as well as the sales tax on the value of the vehicle. A temporary registration will be issued that is typically valid for 30 days and the official registration sticker will arrive in the mail.

Source: The Forum for Expatriate Management - GAI




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