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buying a car in america

Travel Forums North America buying a car in america

1. Posted by OZRod (Budding Member 3 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Hi everyone,

I'm going on a trip to America later on in the year and I want to buy a car, drive from one side to another and then ship the car back to Australia. How does a traveller do this as I have heard that you have to have a social security number, an address for the title of the car and insurance. Does anyone know if all that is correct and how does a traveller buy a car legally? Any information would be much appreciated.

2. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 2009 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

I really think you need to correspond with a dealer directly - for God sake, don't buy "American"!!! Why would you want an opposite drive car in Australia? Sounds like a very bad idea to me - they do have long term rentals at most of the major agencies.

3. Posted by OZRod (Budding Member 3 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Mate, I didn't ask if you liked what I was doing, or even agreed with it. All I was asking was how do I go about it. I don't want to rent a car, I have always wanted to buy an "American" car and have here in Australia and I don't think I am going to change my plans just because your opinion is different to mine. Why did you even reply to my posting when your answer has nothing to do with what I was asking.

I am asking for help, not opinions on what you think I should do. You have me baffled as to why you even answered my post.

4. Posted by gocebe (Inactive 48 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!


It took me three years to get a cellphone in this country. So I can't imagine buying a car! Americans seem to have too many unnecessary regulations for too many things. So buying a car as a traveler might be a problem and I think shipping your car to Australia might be a double problem.

As far as I know this is what you need:

Social Security Number: you can get this number even if you are not a citizen but you need an address, in order for them to send you your social security card. I don't remember exactly how long it takes them to send it to you. I would say 3+ weeks.

Credit History: I have never understood this term anyway. So you need to have a credit history but in order to have a credit history you need to have a credit card in the USA. But when you go to a bank to apply for a credit card, they ask if you have a credit history. Quite confusing.

Also depending on the state you buy your car, you would probably need an American driving license. And once you have this brand new license, when you get insurance it would be super expensive. If you have had your Australian license for years, make sure you make RMV (registry of motor vehicles---where you get license) carries Australian license years onto US license years. Then your insurance would be cheaper.

I know that I am not helpful at all but try contacting a dealer directly.

5. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3573 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Buying a car is pretty straightforward. I have helped 2 Brits buy vans here in Vegas. You need an International Drivers License, a local address and money. We found a van and had it on the road the next day. Buy it from a dealer or individual, go to an insurance agent. He paid $100/month for basic insurance. Went to our DMV, showed them the title to the van, insurance papers, smog cert. (seller provided), and paid the transfer fee, sales tax and license plate fee. It cost about $150 to license the van. They send the title to the address provided, takes about 4 weeks. You can drive it that day, but cannot sell it until you have the title. Your IDL is valid for a visitor driving in the US. Some States like Oregon have no sales tax, so it is cheap to buy/license a car/van/rv there.

I found this website for shipping a car to OZ. Cost about $3K for shipping plus paperwork. Good luck.

6. Posted by OZRod (Budding Member 3 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Thanks Gocebe and VegasMike. Atleast now I have a direction in which to try and work out how to go about it.

Thanks heaps,

7. Posted by tleb (Full Member 117 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

I've driven a Japanese SUV here in Canada. It's fun watching people do double takes when you are driving it alone. Plus it had all kinds of cool guages i had never seen in an SUV. Had a pitch guage, a yaw guage, an altimeter, and a mystery meter that measured it's units by the millions.

I like your idea. Maybe I will come to Australia and buy a car. The shipping costs have gotta hurt. Whats a sea container rental worth from Australia?

8. Posted by Buster1 (First Time Poster 1 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Great idea OZRod, and very easy to purchase a car in the US, but only if you have a permanent US address you can register the car to. My husband and I did what you're planning to do (only we didn't ship our car home). We purchased a car from Oregan from a well known on-line auction site. Fortunately we knew someone who lived in that same area who could pick the car up and store it until we arrived in the US (from Oz). We chose Oregon because it has the cheapest registration fees in the US ($25 per year in 2003). Once we arrived we just purchased insurance in the usual way (ie, provided proof of vehicle purchase, personal identification, intnl driver's licence and our friend's address) and then headed off to the local Vehicle Rego Office to queue for an hour or so. As you are no doubt aware, insurance is compulsory over there, so you need to be able to provide the paperwork to get your vehicle registered. Once we did that it was happy travels all round! So all in all, as long as you can provide a permanent US address, the process is no different to here in Oz. We spent 7 great weeks driving across to the mid-west and then sold the car in LA the day before we headed home (bonus for us!).

Incidentally, we're planning to do exactly the same thing again this September, and I've been trying to find out if there is any other way to purchase a car without having a permanent US address. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find anything, so it's back to Oregan again to buy our car!

Hope this info helps.... have a great trip!!!

[ Edit: Edited on 26-May-2009, at 17:38 by Buster1 ]

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