we want to register our van without U.S. licenses
August 14, 2008 12:05 PM   Subscribe

Are there any states in the north-east (USA) where you can register a vehicle without a driver's license issued in that state and in fact without a U.S. license?

My husband and I are Australians trying to register a small campervan/motorhome in the U.S. Neither of us have U.S. driver's licenses but he has a U.S. passport (dual citizen).

We have found a company that will insure us, but we are having trouble registering our van. We are in North Carolina and heading to New York and surrounding states. We don't want to have to get local licenses.

Does anyone know if it can be done in any of those liberal states with international (Australian) licenses? New Hampshire says "live free or die" so we thought that might be our best bet...
posted by beccyjoe to Law & Government (23 answers total)
New York State will permit you to use your Australian licenses as if they were local licenses. If you officially become a state resident, you'll need to turn in your Australian licenses to get NYS licenses, but it sounds like you're not staying permanently.


The problem, I think, is that in order to register a vehicle in New York, you need to become a resident, which would require you to then turn in your home licenses.

Try calling the NYS DMV, and see if they can help work out the details for you.
posted by Citrus at 12:28 PM on August 14, 2008

Response by poster: thank you. yeah we dont really intend on becoming residents, this is the problem. we just want to live on the road... so if we had to turn in our licenses we effectively wouldn't be able to use them to register the van? that's a little confusing. if we turned them in we'd have to get NYS ones right? which is what we're trying to avoid having to do.
posted by beccyjoe at 12:33 PM on August 14, 2008

How long is your trip? Where is the RV coming from? Somehow a better deal than a rental, I assume? What is it's current registration status?
posted by winston at 12:35 PM on August 14, 2008

I had a friend from Germany who registered and insured a car in Michigan with a German driver's license. Michigan probably doesn't meet your definition of "northeast", though.

If you are in a smallish town, it is likely that the local DMV employees don't get many Aussies. You could try calling or e-mailing the NC DMV, or those in neighbouring states.

You might need some kind of local address. My friend used mine.
posted by QIbHom at 12:36 PM on August 14, 2008

As far as I can tell, Massachusetts does not require you to submit a drivers license to register a vehicle, and I don't recall having had to submit one when I registered my car.
posted by phoenixy at 12:40 PM on August 14, 2008

Oops, I forgot to mention... they don't require a license, but most of the largest American auto insurance companies do not operate in Massachusetts (Progressive, MetLife, and USAA are the exceptions) so that might pose a problem for you.
posted by phoenixy at 12:44 PM on August 14, 2008

Response by poster: thanks all. ok- here's the deal.

we have been living on the road for two and a half months this year and were for 6 months last year. we bought a van in canada last year and in B.C. they let us register it no prob with our aussie licenses. my husband is a programmer and he telecommutes so we live and travel and he works from wherever we are. its a great lifestyle.

but our great old van broke down forever a couple of weeks ago when we were in virginia and we had to get a new one. there's so much red tape because we are not locals. we figured out we can do it here in N.C. by pretending to be residents. we have relatives here in Raleigh who's address we can use. but there's a few boring problems slowing us down (getting papers from the dealer in virginia) and we are to meet a friend in NYC in the next few days, so i want to head up there and do it there.

we have 30 day rego that came with the van, temporary plates. michigan sounds good but is a little out of the way. though we might have to detour, its not too far. we will also look into massachusetts. did you need to prove residency there in Mass.?
posted by beccyjoe at 12:47 PM on August 14, 2008

The one issue that might come up in Massachusetts is that if you have an out-of-state license, you'll need to provide the RMV a Social Security number. You might want to call them, though.
posted by General Malaise at 12:51 PM on August 14, 2008

In Massachusetts, AFAIK, when you register a car, the insurance company handles the identification/residency end, so you don't need to present proof of residence to the RMV; it's the insurance company you need to convince, and the RMV just accepts their information.
posted by phoenixy at 12:56 PM on August 14, 2008

Response by poster: ok thats good. my husband has a social security number. massachusetts is looking good.

we have found a company that will insure us in north carolina (though they are in florida) so maybe they will insure us in mass. (thanks so much peeps. keep it coming)
posted by beccyjoe at 12:59 PM on August 14, 2008

This is a very interesting question and I don't want to derail, but I live in PA and I can't recall being asked to provide driver's license info to register my vehicle. Maybe I'm thinking of renewing my registration, but all the state seems to care about is insurance. So sort of what phoenixy said: in order to get insurance you might need a license, and then proof of insurance is required to register the vehicle.
posted by fixedgear at 1:05 PM on August 14, 2008

Response by poster: (fixedgear, my husband rides a fixed gear, we have it in the back of the van, much to my annoyance...)

maybe PA is also a possiblity.

but yeah actually i think you're right that insurance is where you have to have the license. and like i said we have insurance sorted. but here in NC they wanted us to either have a state identity card OR state license to do rego. i guess all states are different.
posted by beccyjoe at 1:15 PM on August 14, 2008

You need to be a resident of Vermont to register here.

BTW, this doesn't seem legal.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 1:16 PM on August 14, 2008 [2 favorites]

I have a cargo van I share with a couple other people in Minnesota. I never wanted my name on it, so I registered it under my LLC's company name. There was no proof of anything required... I could have made up the name as long as I get the tabs renewal in the mail it seems to work fine. I have done it in person once and via US mail once.
posted by thilmony at 1:27 PM on August 14, 2008

Not the goegraphic area you're looking for but: I registered 2 cars in California sans US driving license.
posted by signal at 1:28 PM on August 14, 2008

You should only have to be the owner of the vehicle, and prove insurance where required. How else do business register vehicles? Get the CEO's driver's license? I think your dealer is steering you wrong. Call the RMV. They should have an ombudsman for this type of thing.
posted by Gungho at 2:06 PM on August 14, 2008

What address are you going to use for your insurance and registration? In every state I've had a car in (4, including Mass.) I had to provide an address to both the insurer and the state when I registered (and yes, Mass requires that you submit proof of insurance when you apply for registration). The address you provide is the vehicle's "garaging address" and is used (in part) to calculate insurance rates (which in Mass. are VERY high b/c of state regulation). So it seems like if you can use a relative's address in NC then that's where you'll need to register the car. And don't forget vehicle inspections, which have to be done every year (at least in the states I've lived in).
posted by DiscourseMarker at 5:28 PM on August 14, 2008

Yeah, minor quibble but I think its two years in NJ for state inspection.
posted by fixedgear at 5:45 PM on August 14, 2008

You could do it in Virginia without a state license, but in so doing you will need to have proof of address. You don't need to be a resident of the state to register it there. The easiest proof of address ID would probably be a cancelled check (showing name and address) or recent bank statement. If your husband doesn't already have a US bank account to get these documents, he will be able to open one very easily as a US citizen with a SSN.
posted by madforplaid at 3:48 AM on August 15, 2008

FWIW, CT is a no-go for you. To register a vehicle here, you'd either need a CT license, a CT non-driver ID card (basically looks like a license, issued by the DMV, but not valid as a license) which requires residency, or a US military ID.
posted by reptile at 8:02 AM on August 15, 2008

Also FWIW North Carolina registrations are way cheaper than anything you'll find in the northeast.
posted by reptile at 8:03 AM on August 15, 2008

Clarification: I do think that there's a way for NY state to do it. Unfortunately, it's not obvious from their online documentation. If you call the NYSDMV help center, someone there may be sharp enough to figure out exactly what you need. to get it done. There are people in NYS who live out of mobile homes, and there are a lot of people in NYC specifically who are international non-residents, but have registered a vehicle. So, it can be done, I just can't quite put together what the DMV needs for this with any certainty.
posted by Citrus at 9:19 AM on August 15, 2008

Response by poster: thanks all for your input. very helpful and good to know all this stuff. the problem we find is that when you call to talk to someone they will say one thing and then at the DMV the person who serves you will say another. I guess most big bureaucracies are like this. We will probably end up doing it in NC since we have an address here (relatives). It seems like you need an address no matter what and we don't really know people in other states. But thanks so much everyone. Things like this are never as easy as you want them to be.
posted by beccyjoe at 8:10 PM on August 15, 2008

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