Getting Car Insurance When Visiting the US on a Visa

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Reviewed byJoel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Jul 27, 2016

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Here's what you need to know...

  • When you come to the United States on a visa, you must follow the law carefully to receive certain privileges such as driving
  • Laws that regulate driving while on a visa vary from state to state, so make sure you contact the DMV of the state you will be living for specifics
  • You can take advantage of several options for auto insurance while visiting America on a visa including rental car insurance or insurance through your credit card
  • Always compare several insurance providers before choosing one

Whether coming to the United States on a work, student, or temporary visa, if you plan on driving, you will need to get car insurance.

Read on to learn all about visas and car insurance in America then enter a U.S. zip code to compare quotes from many different auto insurance companies!

What must you do to drive while in the United States on a visa?


Some of the laws that regulate driving while on a visa vary from state to state. You can contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in the city where you will be living for specific laws.

It is important to find out this information before moving to the United States, and much of this information can be found online or at the U.S. embassy in your home country.

Before you move, you also need to apply for and obtain an international driver’s license issued from the country where you live.

In most cases, you cannot register for an international driver’s license from America once you move, although there are some exceptions to this rule. You cannot get car insurance without an international driver’s license.

International driver’s licenses only last for one year. If you have a visa that will be longer than that, you need to apply for a license in the state in which you live. Again, different states have different laws that govern those on visa status, so do your due diligence.

If you do have an international driver’s license, it will automatically expire in one year or when your visa expires, whichever comes first. If you continue to drive, you will be driving illegally.

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United States Visa Car Insurance Options

There are many car insurance options available for those who are visiting the United States on a visa with an international driver’s license.

First, if you will be in the United States on a temporary visa for six months or less, the best option may be to rent a vehicle which comes with car insurance. With renter’s insurance, you will have to pay an additional fee.

Second, if you have family in the states, they can add you to an existing car insurance policy. They would add you as an international driver on their policy. Once added you would make payments to your family member for the cost.

Being added to an existing policy will be cheaper than setting up your own policy and can even serve as a temporary solution until you get settled. Of course, your family member has to authorize you as an addition to the policy.

Third, you can obtain car insurance through your credit card. If you rent a car using your credit card, you may already have car insurance coverage for no additional fee.

Check with your credit card company as well as with the car rental agency to make sure this option is available.

Comparing US Car Insurance Quotes Online


If you are going to drive with an international driver’s license, you must have car insurance. If you decide on traditional car insurance, you can research U.S. companies that offer car insurance for international drivers before you come to the United States.

Many of the large companies in the United States offer this kind of insurance but most of the smaller or family owned companies in the United States do not.

One of the best ways to study your options is with an online comparison tool. A comparison tool will help you see rates and quotes side by side. You can look at policy options and find the one that will fit best with your overseas travel plans.

Having this information ready when you apply for your insurance will be helpful. Coming to the United States already prepared will make your transition a lot simpler.

You can get rate quotes on car insurance right now! Just enter your ZIP code below.

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