Driving requirements for foreigners in the USA are pretty straightforward. You have to understand the USA is a country that has some laws which apply to all states; Federal Laws, and then some which each State has its own laws on. Driving laws falls under each state to regulate, which means you need to first know where in the USA are you travelling to?
There are 4 things to look out for. These are the driving requirements for foreigners in each state:
1. What driver’s license is required by the state?
The law for a driving license is simple, “People who drive in the U.S. must have a valid driver’s license.” A valid driver license normally means one with a photo, the license type, your details and validity of the license. This license can be from any state, or foreign country.
2. Do you need an International Driving Permit?
The IDP is not a driver license on its own. It’s just a translation of your driving license into normally English. Most states do not require it. Having said that, if your driving license is not understandable pretty straight forward due to the language, it’s recommended to get an IDP to help you out. If you are going to rent a car, it depends on the company you choose.
3. How long can I drive with my foreign license?
If you are on a Student Visa, or any justified long term visa, you can use your driver’s license as long as it remains valid. You only need to get a local driving license when you plan to be a resident. For tourists and visitors, it varies by state, but mostly ranges from 3 months to 1 year.
4. What about insurance for foreign licenses ?
You insure the driver in the USA, not the vehicle. All states have a minimum required cover called liability cover. If you get into an accident, this cover pays for damages of the other car. The amount is what varies by state. If you’re staying for a long period as a non-resident, student etc., and you plan to drive someone’s car or rent a car, you can get a 6/12 month non-owner’s insurance. When you rent a car, Liability cover is the only required cover by law, the rest are optional. Car insurance companies can cover you when you are travelling abroad, contact your current insurance company to check if your protection extends in the USA and take that with you.
Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is the organization that regulates the laws by each state. Find the DMV for your state.
Find out more from USA.Gov Website.
That’s pretty much it! So most of you are pretty much ready to drive in the USA. Have a look at some weird things that are allowed while driving in the USA.