How to Buy a Car from Dealers in the USA as a Foreigner

December 9, 2019

Getting a car is a big thing and followed by several steps, even for American citizens. There are actually some more requirements for visitors who belongs to other countries and wish to buy a car in the U.S. Nevertheless, understanding all the requirements is important and will make the process easier. Along the way, there are some resources that may be helpful to foreigners in the U.S.

Planning Financing Options:

(a) Shop for a car you can afford. Getting a car loan is not impossible as a newcomer to the U.S., but there are some additional difficulties. First of all, set your mind to purchase a car according to the pocket. If you can afford to pay cash, then you won’t need to worry about financing.

(b) Research the lenders’ credit requirements. If you need a car loan, understand that different banks or credit unions have different requirements regarding prior credit history. You will want to shop around and ask. It is possible to get a loan as a foreigner. Just be prepared that you may need to pay a bit higher interest rate.

(c) Try an expat-specific financing company. Before you move to the United States, begin researching “expat car leasing and financing companies.” You will find a variety of companies, like Expatride, International AutoSource, and many others. These financing companies provide finance  and leasing rates to expats at competitive local prices. If possible, contact a company before you move to the US to take advantage of special offers and savings.

(e) Compare bank rates with dealer lending rates. Many buyers may not realize that banks are not the only lenders. Most of the new car dealers will also manage the financing. In some cases, if you finance your car purchase through the dealer, you may be able to get a better rate than you could get at a bank or other finance company. Research the conventional lenders first, and then keep these numbers in mind when you are shopping for cars.

Getting Car Insurance:

(a) Make sure you can legally drive in the U.S. To drive in the United States, you will must have driver’s identification. You can also show your countries licence but should be written in English language, you can use this license as a visitor or for a time after you become a resident (the specific time varies by state). However, if your license is in another language, you will have to get an International Driving License (IDL) from your home country before you visit the U.S. If you plan to immigrate, you will need to exchange your foreign license for a U.S. one within a certain amount of time. Residents of the following countries may do so easily through reciprocity agreements:

  1. Canada.
  2. France.
  3. Germany.
  4. South Korea.

Finding and Buying a Car

(a) Consider your needs. When buying a car, you will want to consider such things as the size (how many people are in your family?), the distance you will need to travel, and whether good gas mileage is important to you.

(b) Research your options. Take the time to research and become familiar with your vehicle options. Available manufacturers in the U.S. may differ from your home country.

(c) Negotiate the best price you can. In the U.S., prices for most items are set by the merchant and are not negotiable. Cars are different. Cars prices are mentioned by a “sticker price” (that is the price on the sticker posted in the car’s window). Most dealers, however, expect that you will make an offer that may be a few thousand dollars less than the sticker price. For a used car, there is usually more options for negotiation. Some keys to good negotiation include

1. Research the car you want before you begin negotiating

2. Have a target price in mind

3. Use leverage to your advantage

Registering Your New or Used Car

(a) Let the dealer handle it, if you are buying from a dealer. Almost all professional car dealerships, whether you are buying a new or a used car, will do the work of registering a car and getting the license plates for it.

Shipping Your Car Overseas

(a) Select the type of transport. If, you want to return home with your American-bought car, there are essentially three different choices for shipping. They vary based on time, cost, and security.

1. Roll On, Roll Off (RORO)
2. Containerized Shipping
3. Air freight

(b) Clear your car through US Customs as part of shipping it. You will need to show the title that you received when you purchased the car, showing your name as the vehicle’s owner, in order to go through Customs.