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Australian Buying and Registering a car in California

Travel Forums North America Australian Buying and Registering a car in California

1. Posted by matts94 (First Time Poster 1 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Hi there,

I am coming over to California later this year, and have spent a long time looking into buying vs hiring a car, with buying coming out the stronger option for my 6 month trip.

I am from Australia, am 21 years old, and have a P2 Queensland License. This P2 license is where I have my questions.

This P2 License means I can drive around by myself, as I am no longer a learner, and have been driving by myself for over three years. It just restricts alcohol intake and driving.

I know I can hire a car in California on this license, as it seems Californians go from being a learner, to having a full license after 18, so this P2 license is the equivalent.

With this P2 License I can also buy an International Drivers Permit, as Australia must know that this license is considered full in other countries.

What I don't want is to get to California, buy a car, and not be able to register if my license is considered invalid.

I wonder if having an international drivers permit with me would assist in showing that it is a full time equivalent?

Does anyone have experience in this?

Any help would be amazing

Cheers and thanks,

Matt Schimke

2. Posted by rvcampertravele (Full Member 80 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Contact Adventuretours at ..they are located in texas, and have procured a camper for me....

3. Posted by Heswe (First Time Poster 1 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

I would invest in the International License just to save you the hassle if (/when) you end up talking to a highway patrol officer. I didn't have to present my NZ license for either insurance (I went with The General as they let me complete online without a US license) or with the DMV in Nevada, they used my birthdate in the license number section of my title.


Getting your title WILL take time!! If you don't opt for a rapid title it can take over 8 weeks, and that is pretty damn prohibitive. I sucked it up and shelled out an extra $100USD just to get it done in a hurry, and used my hostel in Vegas as my home address. But since I left town the day after buying my truck, we got the title mailed to our next confirmed hotel, which was in Denver. No wakas.

Hit me up if you need any more advice!


4. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2003 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Be aware that the rules in California say that your foreign drivers license is only good for 10 days in California if you are here to become a resident. After that you are supposed to get a California drivers license.

However, if you are not planning on becoming ai resident (that is, you are here visiting on a tourist visa), then your Australian drivers license is good for as long as you are here as a tourist.

Since your license is in English, you shouldn't have any issues with that. Just be sure that you do have insurance (note: I am talking about liability insurance in case you hit someone and injury them.) Strangely enough you don't need insurance for damaging your own vehicle, but you do need to insurance if you damage someone else's car or injure them;--and this will be checked if you are pulled over by the police. Failure to show insurance could result in you not being allowed to drive, although this is usually rare. More likely they will ask you to go get insurance immediately. Be aware that if you get pulled over a second time by the police (especially if still in the same state where you were pulled over the first time) and don't have it, then you will be jailed immediately.

Enjoy your trip.