How To Buy a Car in USA For Non USA Citizens

We had a great question come from user James that I wanted to share with our readers:

I am from the UK, and therefore I believe i will struggle to buy a car in the US, however my sister lives in Denver and is a US citizens.  My sister is not travelling but she could buy the car for us and I could put myself on her insurance.  She is married and has a different surname, will I have difficulties crossing boarders etc… if a different name is on the vehicle registration to our passport?

I’ve never done this but I think I might have found a way forward.

I did my research based on California because that is where I am and what I know, most states should be similar.

First of all the main issue is getting your name on the title, not the insurance.

To get the title of a car in California you would need to fill out the title transfer when buying th car and possess a unique identification issued by the DMV. You either need a California Drivers license or a California ID.

Getting the ID is much easier and can be obtained using a foreign passport (

Get your ID (you’d have to come to US for this) and establish a US address through friend, family or rent a PO Box.

Once you have a California ID any car transfer is easy, the Department of Motor Vehicles simply needs you in the system to transfer the vehicle to you.

Once you have your ID you can co-own and co-sign a title with your sister and both of you could be put on the title, therefore if she found a vehicle for you she could send you the form to UK for signature to make the legal transfer.

It takes time to get the title, sometimes a month thus you need to plan accordingly.

Adding you to your sister’s insurance is less of an issue and once you take the car across the border you can drop the US insurance because it is not valid south of the border.

Another approach is to create an LLC and registar the vehicle in the name of the LLC but I don’t have any information on this.


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