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Buying car in the USA, getting IEC visa for Canada.

Travel Forums North America Buying car in the USA, getting IEC visa for Canada.

1. Posted by Seda (Budding Member 2 posts) 1y

Hey everyone this site is super!

I need some help, me and my partner are planning an epic trip, starting in Phoenix (aunt lives there) then going down the West coast and up to Vancouver, in Canada for a Year going to the East then back down the East Coast of USA for a bit :)

Haven't decided on places to go yet, but that'll be another lot of questions lol.

I have read that I can buy a car in the US fairly easy, get it registered to my aunts address and such, but what about Canada? Do I need to re-register it up there somewhere? or can it just stay on the USA plates and registration address, Car is pretty much going to be the cheapest way for both of us to get to where we want and quicker than the greyhound...But I'm unsure what the laws are on driving in the USA.

Renting a car just isn't an option, it's too costly, plus the fuel and extra charges and having to bother where to take it back to etc, it's an expensive hassle!

So my main questions are thus ;)

- Do we need US Licences? Or an international one for the US? Same for Canada do we need an international licence for there?
- Can we use the car bought in the USA to travel through Canada for a year or is that too long and it will need re registered?
- Is it going to be easy to find a car in Phoenix? (scottsdale AZ) Are there any good websites for used cars?
- What paperwork am I going to need to buy a car, or what will I need to get to buy one?
- How much are the average small RV's/Motor-homes?

Any other information you think is relevant or useful for us would be amazing!
...like anyone know how to pack clothes for a few years?!??!? trying to think about it hurts my brain!! Canada is cold for long periods of time and jumpers are bulky and heavy... :/
so are boots...and jackets...and there is limited space in this rucksack!

hope to hear from you soon <3

2. Posted by Cyberia (Travel Guru 1769 posts) 1y

If you are going to spend a year in Canada, you are going to have to watch the weather. Canada is wide open spaces, a long way between towns and it can get very cold there in winter (Winnipeg this winter has typically been around -26.C with a wind chill below -40.C, and lots and lots of snow).

If you are going to spend a year in Canada, you might as well get insured there. And see about breakdown service while you're at it.

International driving licenses should be OK.

Los Angeles is the place to buy a vehicle. Get a flight there. There are dealerships with vehicles stretching off into the distance. Unless your aunt can help you get a good deal in Phoenix, that is. Prices vary hugely depending on what size, age, model you want.

You can buy anything you might need like clothing in America and Canada, and probably a lot cheaper than back home.

Driving in the US is generally the same as driving back home but there are little wrinkles like being allowed to turn on some red lights, not being allowed to pass a school bus letting kids on or off, slow vehicles driving in the fast lane of motorways, etc. Be aware that Canadian speed limits are in kilometers rather than miles.

If you have a year, then slow public transport is not a problem and you can hire a car as needed for local trips and use buses, trains or flights for long trips.

You can park out in the middle of nowhere in a motorhome but that is not always safe. Many Americans and Canadians will pay to use proper parking areas, with facilities, electricity and such.

Canada is big but what are you going to do there for a year? Most people could see all they want in a few summer months.

Get yourself the best maps you can. Possibly buy a sat-nav system there, if you are there for a year.

3. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3546 posts) 1y

Sarah,
I called AZ DMV and you can register a vehicle using an International DL. Use your aunt's address for insurance and title. Plenty of used vehicles available in Phoenix. Look at craigslist for what is out there in your price range. Click on 'cars & trucks', select either 'all cars' or 'by owner only', type in 'Dodge Grand Caravan', put $5,000 in the price box. See what is out there. Then go back and type 'Chevy Vans', try Toyota Vans, Honda Vans, etc. Now you will have an idea what is out there in your price range.

I suggest you get a van, something like this. Or this one. Big enough for 2 to sleep in it and carry your stuff. Easy to drive and easy to re-sell when your adventure is over. You will have to take the rear seats out if you plan on sleeping in it. Forget the RV idea. They use too much fuel and guaranteed to need repair on such a long road trip. I would budget $5K for a decent van. You should get around $4K back when you sell.

I don't know about Canada. Hopefully one of our Canadian members will chime in on driving around with US plates for a year. Good luck with your planning.

[ Edit: Edited on 01-Feb-2013, at 10:37 by vegasmike6 ]

4. Posted by Seda (Budding Member 2 posts) 1y

Hey guys thanks for the advice it's very much appreciated,

There are a few decent cars on that Craigslist thing that will be perfect for us when we go over there.

Cyberia it's going to be a lot easier for us to get a car so that when we need to buy extras like big jumpers etc then the car can act as a big ol' suitcase :)
Renting just isn't an option, trying to get around as cheap as possible and renting just doesn't give anything back, it's a pain to take the cars back to the drop off points etc, at least if we get a car if we can't take it somewhere we could sell it, get some money back off the beast.

Thanks for asking for me Mike that's really kind of you <3
Makes a big difference knowing that we will be able to get around in our car :)

Thanks all ^^

5. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 1946 posts) 1y

If you come from an English speaking country, I don't believe you need the International License - your home license will do (are you from the UK?) As I understand it, the International Driver's License is more or less just a translation document.

I urge you to go to the websites for various DMV's (Department of Motor Vehicles) for the various states and provinces - driving laws vary from state to state - you need to be a little savvy about our laws before you attempt our highways (even the language is different here - no "motorways" for instance!)

(remember that insurance here could be your biggest headache - expensive for foreigners)

I agree that LA is the best place to buy - because it's also the largest auto marketplace in the USA. Since used cars are in high demand these days, don't expect super cheap. I like to buy from a reputable new car dealer rather than from a private party or used car dealer - many are nothing more than crooks (beware). Since you'll also be in cold weather, you'll need a winterized car (extra snow tires and or chains as well as coolant).

[ Edit: Edited on 02-Feb-2013, at 08:31 by Daawgon ]