Tangled up in red tape

Ok, this is a long one so bear with me.

Myself and my boyfriend are from Ireland and hoping to do a 6 month trip across America this year. Ideally we wanted to buy a car for the trip but this seems almost impossible from what I’ve read on different sites. Between us we tick all the boxes. I’m a U.S. citizen though I’ve never lived there. I don’t have a driving license and I’m 20. He has a full Irish driving license and is over 25.

I’ve heard conflicting things about this, some people have said that he should get a visa even though Ireland is in the no visa zone and then get a U.S. drivers license which will get us insured. Other people have said I should try to get a license. Or what’s the story with getting insured on someone else’s car, his brother and our friend’s girlfriend both live stateside and could probably help us out.

How does the insurance system work, is the car insured and drivers are named on it, or are the drivers insured and then they drive whatever car they want?

Sorry for the long post and all the questions, I’m just getting totally confused by all the official websites and hope a human can help.



Getting a US drivers license? there are state drivers license but you need proof of a legal residence and SS#. IF someone purchased a car, had it insured and loaned it to you for 6 months and you had a valid international drivers license that would work. Most insurance policies cover other drivers however if there was an accident and the insurance co. found out it was for an extended 6 month period things might get dicey. I would try to “borrow” a car and drive carefully.

I would contact places like RENT A WRECK that have short term mini leases. They rent 1-2 year old vehicles at reduced rates. You probably don’t want to drive around the country in a $500 car or deal with selling it when you leave.

Check out rental car companies and see what they require.

Yes, I agree that you should check with car rental places. We use rental cars and trucks with some of our construction inspection contracts, and with a 6 month agreement, we can get either unlimited miles or a high limit, like 10,000 miles. Check around.

You’ll probably need to furnish some sort of license check for your overseas license, and the agreement will most likely cover the insurance angle. But the Irish driver’s license should be fine. You probably will not qualify for a U.S. state-issued license without proof of residency. New rules are going into effect that will require proof of residency for all states that issue licenses.

If you can ‘borrow’ a car from a family member here in the US, that should be fine, as well. Just double check with their insurance to make sure your adequately covered.

If you’re going to rent a car the Rent a Wreck franchise company may be the way to go. http://www.rentawreck.com/ See about getting an International license, and ask Rent a Wreck if that will suffice. Many rental companies will not rent to those under 25. That’s another good question. Do YOU have any experience driving? You will want to consider taking a written test and getting a learner’s permit, and subsequently a full license while you are here. As a US citizen, you’d only need a local address. (You have relatives, so that might work.) Will you travel on a US Passport? You need it already! A rental company WILL NOT let you drive on a learner’s permit, even though it will require another licensed driver to be with you at all times.

Buying a car is another matter. The CAR is insured, and the drivers should be named on the policy. As a “learner” that cost would be high. As young folks, it will be high anyway. Borrowing a car from an individual for an extended period might get THEM into some legal trouble if you had an accident. THEY won’t want that, and you shouldn’t.

I’m assuming you’ll buy a used car. Selliing it when you want to leave will be a problem. You may have to rely on your US contacts to sell it for you. There is (in my state anyway) a form called a “Power of Attorney for Vehicle Sale” that would allow them to do that. It would have to remain registered (licensed) and insured until it was sold. It could take days, weeks or months to find a buyer. Don’t expect to get nearly what you paid for it if you buy it from a dealer. You will come closer if you buy from an individual as he’s not looking for a profit.

The American embassy in Ireland should be able to advise you about driving in the United States and about the documents you will need.

At a minimum, I would expect you both need passports (U.S. for you and Irish for him). He may need a visa, too. Since you are a U.S. citizen, but not a resident, I don’t know about you. Due to the rise of terrorism, U.S. immigration officials are fussier about documentation than they used to be. You don’t want to have your trip ruined by paperwork problems.

You should also ask Irish immigration authorities about the documents you need to get back into Ireland at the end of your trip. If you plan to bring any expensive gadgets with you (e.g. a camera or computer), ask about documentation to prove they came from Ireland so that you are not asked to pay import duties on your return.

In the United States, insurance is on the automobile, not on the driver. If your friends are willing to lend you a car, they should explain the situation to their insurance agent. That way, the insurance company will not have an excuse to deny coverage if there is an accident. They might require additional premium. If you have time, you might consider qualifying for an Irish driver’s licence of your own.

One thing for the both of you to be careful about over here. We drive on the right side of the road, which from your perspective is the wrong side. Whether walking or driving, you will have to make a conscious effort to remember the difference.

Are there any car insurance companies in the Emerald Isle that are big enough to also exist in the U.S? Just call them and hit the prompts that’ll enable you to talk to a human being, and pick their brain. Wish I could be of more help. Anyway, I hope you enjoy your stay in America. When you come consider checking out my neck of the woods- Lancaster County, Pa, And check out the Amish and all the historic sites here. Good luck!

Check leases. I got this tip when we went to Europe. We didn’t stay long enough, buy you any be here long enough. And google car leasing (and renting). You might find a good deal from an off-brand. We did that in Europe and got a fantastic deal for the 2+ weeks we were there.

You’ve received good advice. Here are websites for some of the big name insurance companies in the US, I’d suggest you find the phone numbers for these places and give them a call. Someone should be able to work with you.

Allstate: http://allstate.com/

Farmers: http://www.farmers.com/

State Farm: http://www.statefarm.com/

Geico: http://www.geico.com/

Progressive: http://www.progressive.com/

Esurance: http://www.esurance.com/