Car insurance foreign license
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How to get cheap car insurance with a foreign license

Car insurance is a requirement in California. As a non-resident, you’re required to purchase car insurance for a foreign license if you have your vehicle registered in the state. You must carry liability, motorist medical payments and personal injury protection (PIP) coverage while driving. If you don’t have insurance, not only will you face fines but also your vehicle may be impounded until the court case is settled.

What car insurance coverage do I need?

  • Liability insurance
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

California requires liability insurance, which covers damage you cause to other people and their property. Liability insurance is required in all 50 states, but the specifics of what coverage is required can vary by state. In California, minimum coverage includes $15,000/$30,000/$10,000 for injury or death to one person; $30,000/$60,000/$15,000 for injury or death to two or more persons; and $5,000 for property damage per accident.

As a non-resident, am I required to purchase car insurance with a foreign license?

If you drive in California and have a valid driver’s foreign license from another state or country, you may be required to purchase auto insurance. A driver’s license does not guarantee car registration, so it is important that nonresidents also have proof of financial responsibility.

purchase car insurance with a foreign license
purchase car insurance with a foreign license

A California driver’s license is an option for nonresidents who have a legal presence in the United States. You can apply for this at any Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office throughout the state. The process can take up to three weeks, depending on how soon DMV receives your foreign documents and how many other people are applying for licenses at the same time as you.

If you choose not to get a California driver’s license and instead register your car in another jurisdiction, such as your home country or state of residence, keep in mind that some states require all drivers on their roads to carry proof of financial responsibility when operating vehicles under their jurisdiction regardless where they reside or own property within those states’ borders.

How long can I drive my vehicle when visiting the U.S.?

If you’re visiting the United States for a short time, then it’s likely that you’ll have a temporary visa. In that case, you can drive in the U.S. for up to 90 days from when your visa was issued—but only if it’s written on your driver’s license or government-issued ID card.

Visiting the United States
Visiting the United States

Permanent residents of the U.S. who are not citizens (green card holders) will have been granted an “endorsement” on their permanent resident alien card (green card). This endorsement states that they may be able to use their international driver’s license for up to six months after entering the country before having to apply for an American driver’s license through their state DMV office or equivalent agency (if there is one).

Read also International travel insurance for classic cars

Do nonresidents need to show proof of insurance to register their vehicle as well as while driving?

As a non-resident, you must show proof of insurance before you can register your vehicle with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You also need to maintain that proof when driving in New York.

driving in New York

If you’re not sure what type of coverage to purchase and how much coverage is enough for you, talk with your agent about getting a car insurance quote from Progressive® Insurance. We’ll help guide you through the process so that you get exactly what you need at a price that fits into your budget.

Can I register my out-of-state vehicle in California?

Yes. If you are a nonresident of California, you can register your vehicle in California if you have a valid driver’s license from your home state and the following:

  • Proof of ownership (title or registration) for the vehicle.
  • Proof of insurance.
  • Proof of current registration from another state or province that is accepted by the DMV as evidence of legal operation within California.

Does the state need proof of insurance before registering my car?

Yes, you must have proof of insurance to register your vehicle. You can show proof of insurance when you register your vehicle or at any time during the registration period. If your registration is due in less than 15 days and you are unable to provide proof at that time, the DMV will mail you a temporary permit valid for 30 days.

You can show proof of insurance at any DMV office or authorized insurance agent.

Read also: can you register your car without insurance?

Is it OK if I drive an uninsured vehicle in California even though I’m not a resident?

Are you a nonresident of California and still need to drive?

Short answer: Yes, it is legal to drive an uninsured vehicle in California if the vehicle is registered in your home state.

Note that this does not apply to those who are living in California on a temporary basis, such as students or workers coming from another state. In these cases, you must maintain a valid out-of-state insurance policy or acquire one from one of the approved providers listed here.

Can a foreign driver who doesn’t have a U.S. Social Security number buy auto insurance in California?

You can buy car insurance in California if you do not have a U.S. Social Security number, but you must provide documentation of your non-resident status and identity. For example, if you are a permanent resident or have an extended stay visa that does not require employer sponsorship, then the DMV will issue a license for up to 5 years. As long as it is valid at the time of purchase, this should suffice for proof of residency and identity when applying for coverage from an insurance provider. This document must be presented in person with other required documents when applying for coverage through an agent or via phone or website submission forms.

Will it cost more to get auto insurance as a nonresident of California?

You will have to pay higher premiums. You are a non-resident of California, so you will be charged a premium that is higher than what California residents would pay. If you are able to find an insurer that charges the same rate as they do for their own clients, this could make it more difficult for them to turn a profit when they work with you. This means that there is likely going to be some sort of policy restriction or coverage limitation because of the higher risk involved in insuring someone who doesn’t live there full-time and has limited contact with the state

Nonresidents are required to follow the same auto insurance laws as residents

Nonresidents are required to follow the same auto insurance laws as residents. In other words, nonresidents must have the same minimum coverage as residents and must carry proof of insurance in case of an accident. If you’re going to be driving in another state, it’s a good idea to check that state’s requirements regarding auto insurance.

auto insurance laws

Nonresident drivers who take their vehicle out of state must also register it with their home state’s DMV and obtain a temporary registration card from that department if one is available. Then they should apply for an official out-of-state license plate or sticker at the local county clerk’s office or DMV office within 30 days (the exact period will vary by state).


Here at Car Insurance for Nonresidents, we are committed to helping you get the best coverage for your needs. We want to make sure that you understand the basic requirements and costs associated with driving in California as well as how to register your vehicle if necessary. We hope this guide has answered some of your questions and given you peace of mind when it comes time to apply for coverage.

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Written by Mr. Rashed

Mr. Rashed graduated from college with a BA in English. He is a legal writer with a focus on Automotive Industry. He is also a Digital Marketer. He has since worked as a Feature Writer in the Automotive industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. He has worked on Auto Insurance, Car Loans, and Driving Schools. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their auto insurance coverage, how to find savings, and all about the auto industry.

In his spare time, Jeffrey makes as much as he can from scratch, travels, and spends time with his enormous extended family.

Have a good day.... :)

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