Congratulations, you’ve just been hired or transferred to a US based company. As excited as you are about your new position, it can be confusing and unnerving to move to the US from a foreign country . The additional stress of locating a new car, arranging for financing or leasing, and completing the necessary paperwork can quickly become overwhelming.
At Cartelligent, we’ve helped hundereds of foreign professionals buy or lease their new car efficiently and at a great price. This guide is intended to walk you through the required steps in the process so that you can purchase and drive your new vehicle.
Obtaining a driver license as a foreign national
The first step is to prove that you can legally drive in the United States. There are two options. If you already have a driver license in your home country you may be able to use that. You’ll need to check with the Department of Motor Vehicles in the state in which you’ll be residing. If they accept driver licenses from your home country, you can apply for an International Driving Permit from your own country before you travel to the United States.
Alternately, you can apply for a US driver license from the state you plan to live in. Check with their Department of Motor Vehicles to find out how to apply.
Foreign national friendly car brands
It can be important to consider which brands are most willing to work with non-US citizens, especially if you wish to lease or finance the vehicle. In our experience, the following manufacturers are most willing to extend credit to foreign nationals who will be professionally employed in the United States.
Choosing to lease or buy as a foreign national
Depending on how long you will be in the country, a lease may be more convenient (and cost-effective) than a purchase. You should consider the following in making the decision to lease or buy:
- Will you be in the country for at least two years? (Most manufacturers will not offer favorable terms on a lease shorter than two years.)
- How many miles will you be driving while you’re using the vehicle?
- How likely is it that your time in the United States will be extended?
- How much of an inconvenience will it be for you to sell the car before you leave the US?
What you’ll need to qualify for financing
In order to qualify for a lease or loan as a non-US citizen, you’ll want to make sure you have the following paperwork in order:
- Completed application for credit
- Passport with photo and visa
- Copy of valid driver license
- Proof of residence (signed lease, mortgage, etc.)
- Letter from employer stating position, hire date, income and length of stay
Buying a car as a foreign national can be more complicated than in your native country because of the additional paperwork and requirements, but with some preparation and advanced planning it can be done.