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Published: October 6, 2022Last updated: November 3, 2022

Getting Car Insurance When Moving From Canada to the US

A guide for expatriates seeking insurance in the US

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So, you’ve applied for a visa, got a Social Security number, and are ready to move to the United States. But what happens with your Canadian car insurance?

Your foreign auto insurance won’t be valid in the U.S. beyond the first six months of a tourist visa, so you’ll need to obtain a U.S. driver’s license and American car insurance. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about transferring your home country’s car insurance to an American insurance company.

How to Get Car Insurance When You Move to the US

  1. Apply for a visa: You’ll need a visa to live in the U.S.1 Find out which type of visa you need, complete the forms, and submit your application to the United States Department of State.
  2. Open a bank account and get a credit card: To establish credit, apply for a credit card and open a U.S. bank account.
  3. Establish residency: States have different requirements for how long you have to live in a place to be considered a “resident.” But typically, only residents are required to get U.S. driver’s licenses in their new state.
  4. Get a U.S. license: The process for getting a U.S. license differs depending on which state you’re moving to. Here is some basic information for each state.
State How long you have after moving to transfer your license Required documents Fees
Alabama 30 days
  • Social Security card
  • Either resident alien card or valid Canadian passport with valid U.S. immigration document
  • Proof of school enrollment/graduation (if under 19)
  • 2 forms of proof for principal residence – utility bill, voter registration card, etc.
  • Employment authorization document
  • Valid visa and supporting documents
  • Valid I-94  arrival/departure record
  • Original I-797 that shows approval of change of status, extension of stay, or timely filing of an extension petition
  • License: $36.25
  • Transfer: $5
Alaska 90 days
  • Canadian driver’s license
  • Proof of legal name, birth date, current address, and Social Security number
Road test: $15
Arizona Immediately
  • Proof of identification, age, and authorized presence
License:

  • Ages 16-39: $25
  • Ages 40-44: $20
  • Ages 45-49: $15
  • Age 50 and older, 5 years: $10
  • Limited license (military or students): $10
  • Skill test: $15
  • Vision screening: $5
Arkansas 30 days
  • Proof of legal presence, identity, and AR residency
License: $40
California 10 days
  • Proof of identity, residency documents
Application fee (amount not listed)
Colorado 30 days
  • Identification documents
N/A
Connecticut 30 days
  • Old license
  • Application for license; proof of Identification
  • Application: $40
  • License: $84
Delaware 60 days
  • Old license
  • Copy of driving record
  • Proof of legal presence
  • 2 forms of proof for DE residency
Motorcycle endorsement: $12
District of Columbia 30 days
  • Proof of identity
  • Social Security number
  • Proof of current Washington, D.C. residency
  • Proof of legal presence
  • Unexpired out-of-country license
  • Knowledge test: $10
  • License: $47
Florida 30 days
  • Primary identification
  • Proof of Social Security identification
  • Proof of residential address (2 documents)
License: $48
Georgia 30 days
  • Proof of identity, residential address, and lawful status in the U.S.
License: $32
Hawaii 1 year
  • License application
  • Old license
  • Social Security card
  • Proof of legal presence in the U.S.
  • 2 documents proving residence address
  • Application: $4
  • Written test: $1
  • Road test: $10
Idaho 90 days
  • Proof of Idaho residency, age, and identity
License:

  • Age 17, 1 year: $20
  • Under 18, 3 years: $30
  • Ages 18-21, 3 years: $30
  • Age 20, 1 year: $20
  • Ages 21 and older, 4 years: $35
  • Ages 21-62, 8 years: $60
  • Knowledge test: $5
  • Skills test: $35
Illinois 90 days
  • Proof of legal name, birth date, lawful status, Social Security number, and residency
  • Basic driver’s license: $30
  • Ages 18-20: $5
  • Ages 21-68: $30
  • Ages 69-80: $5
  • Ages 87 and older: $0
Indiana 60 days
  • Proof of identity, lawful status, Social Security number, and 2 forms of proof for IN residency
  • Under 75: $17.50
  • 75-85: $11
  • 85 and over: $7
Iowa Not listed
  • Proof of identity, residence, and Social Security number
License: $4
Kansas 90 days
  • Proof of lawful presence, Social Security number, 2 forms of proof for KS residence, and proof of legal name
License: $16-$24, depending on age and license type
Kentucky 1 year
  • Proof of identity, Social Security number, residency, and clearance letter or operator’s license from Canada
  • License, 4 years: $21.50
  • License, 8 years: $43
Louisiana 30 days
  • Social Security number, proof of residency, old license, primary document (foreign passport, I-571, etc), etc.
  • License: 69 and younger: $32.25
  • License: 70 and older: $18.75
  • Service fee at some field offices: $6 maximum
Maine 30 days
  • Proof of legal presence in U.S, residency, Social Security number
  • Application: $35
  • License: $30
Maryland 60 days
  • Proof of age, identity, 2 forms of proof for MD residence, lawful status, letter of ineligibility for Social Security number
License: $50
Massachusetts Must be more than 12 months after moving
  • Driving record (maximum 30 days old)
  • Proof of valid immigration status
License: $115
Michigan Can use foreign license as long as it’s in English or has a written English translation with it
  • N/A
N/A
Minnesota 60 days
  • Proof of legal first name and birth date, previous license
  • Class A, regular: $50.25
  • Class A, under 21: $30.25
Mississippi 60 days
  • Official immigration documents
  • Application
  • Original birth certificate
  • Social Security card or proof
  • 2 forms of proof for residency
License: $24
Missouri 30 days for commercial licenses

Not listed for non-commercial licenses

  • Proof of identity, lawful status, Social Security number, and Missouri residency
License: $26-$52, depending on license type, age, and length of license
Montana 60 days
  • Proof of name, date of birth, authorized presence, Social Security number, and 2 forms of proof for residency
License: $5.67- $57.17, depending on age
Nebraska 30 days
  • Proof of lawful status, name, date of birth, and identity, 2 forms of proof for NE principal address, Social Security number
License:

  • 1 year or less: $10
  • 1-2 years: $15
  • 2-3 years: $19
  • 3-4 years: $24
  • 5 years: $29
Nevada 30 days
  • Proof of identity, Social Security number, 2 forms of proof for residency, existing license
  • Knowledge and skills test: $25
  • License: $17.25-$42.25, depending on age, type of license, and length
New Hampshire 60 days
  • Social Security card and proof of legal residence
  • Valid Canadian license
  • Proof of New Hampshire residency
License: $10 per year, for up to 5 years
New Jersey 60 days
  • Proof of identification, original title, insurance information, completed applications
  • Transfer title fee: $60-$110, depending on vehicle financing
  • Registration fee: $35.50- $84, depending on vehicle weight class and model year
New Mexico Not listed
  • Proof of identity and age, 2 forms of proof for NM residency, proof of lawful status
  • License, 4 years: $18
  • License, 8 years: $34
New York Only needed if you become a New York resident
  • Social Security card, proof of name, birth date, and NY residence
License: $64.25- $102.50, depending on age and license class
North Carolina 60 days
  • Old license
  • Proof of identity, date of birth, Social Security number, physical address in NC, legal presence/lawful status, liability insurance coverage in NC
N/A
North Dakota 60 days
  • Proof of ND residency, identity, and lawful presence
  • Knowledge test: $5 per attempt
  • Permit: $15
  • Road test: $5
  • Transfer fee: $15
Ohio 30 days
  • Valid green card, Social Security card if assigned, and proof of Ohio residency
License:

  • Ages 21 or older, 4 years: $24.50
  • Ages 21 or older, 8 years: $48
  • Age 20, 4 years: $20.75
  • Age 19, 4 years: $22
  • Age 18, 4 years: $23.25
  • Age 17, 4 years: $24.50
  • Age 16, 4 years: $25.75
Oklahoma Not listed
  • Foreign passport, I-94 card
License: $38.50-$56.50, depending on type of license
Oregon 30 days
  • Proof of residence, identity
$60
Pennsylvania 1 year
  • Proof of identity, residency, Social Security card
  • License, 4 years: $30.50
  • License, 2 years (age 65 and older): $20
Rhode Island 30 days
  • Current license or driving record, Social Security number, 2 forms of proof for RI residency, I-20 and I-94, passport
License: $39.50
South Carolina 45 days to transfer vehicle title and registration
  • Proof of SC address, identity, data and place of birth, authorized length of stay in U.S.
  • If license is valid for more than 4 years: $25
  • If license is valid for less than 4 years: $12.50
South Dakota 90 days
  • Proof of lawful status, Social Security number, 2 forms of proof for residential address
License: $28
Tennessee 30 days
  • Current license, copy of driving record or other ID, proof of lawful status, 2 forms of proof for TN residency, proof of full Social Security number
License: $8-$55, depending on license period, class, and age
Texas 90 days
  • Proof of identity, residency, lawful presence, Social Security number, Texas vehicle registration, and proof of insurance
License:

  • Under 18: $16
  • Ages 18-84: $33
  • Ages 85 and older: $9
Utah As soon as you’re a Utah resident (within 6 months of living in the state)
  • Proof of a prior license, UT residence, identity, full Social Security number, and lawful presence
License: $52
Vermont 1 year
  • Proof of identity, date of birth, Social Security number, VT residency, lawful status
  • 2-year license: $32
  • 4-year license: $51
  • Road test: $19
Virginia Do not need to exchange license; can use valid Canadian license
  • Proof of identity, residency
N/A
Washington 30 days
  • Proof of lawful presence, identity, name, date of birth, photo, Social Security number
  • License, 5 years: $80
  • License, 6 years: $89
  • Knowledge test: varies by location
  • Driving test: varies by location
West Virginia 30 days
  • 1 proof of identity, 1 proof of Social Security number, 2 forms of proof for WV residency that include name and address
  • Class E: $5 per year
  • Class F: $2.50 per year
Wisconsin 1 year
  • Proof of legal status, name, date of birth, identity, 2 forms of proof for WI residency
  • Class D, 8 year: $34
  • Skills exam: $15
Wyoming 1 year
  • Proof of identity, 2 forms of proof for current WY residency, proof of Social Security number recommended but not required
  • Class C: $45
  1. Research your state’s minimum coverage: Each state has different minimum coverage to drive in the U.S. The reasons why prices vary by state are due to the different requirements.
  2. Compare providers: Once you have a valid U.S. license, you can shop for car insurance and get quotes from multiple providers using the same information with each insurer so you can accurately compare rates.

Will Your Rates Go Up?

When you change car insurance for a move from Canada to the U.S., your rates may or may not go up; it all depends on your driver profile, where you lived in Canada, and where you’re moving to in the U.S. Take a look at the average rates in Canada by province.

Province Average annual cost of car insurance in 2019 (low to high)
Quebec $717
Prince Edward Island $816
New Brunswick $867
Nova Scotia $891
Manitoba $1,080
Newfoundland and Labrador $1,168
Saskatchewan $1,235
Alberta $1,316
Ontario $1,505
British Columbia $1,832

You might’ve paid anywhere from $717 to $1,832 for car insurance in Canada, with an average of $1,143 across all provinces. Here are the average annual costs in the U.S. for comparison.

State Average annual cost of car insurance in 2019 (low to high)
Maine $696.37
North Dakota $703.73
Iowa $714.86
Idaho $738.10
North Carolina $741.70
South Dakota $745.33
Wisconsin $767.42
Wyoming $776.22
Indiana $777.05
Vermont $785.37
Ohio $802.72
Nebraska $807.30
Kansas $818.99
Montana $834.86
Hawaii $839.87
Virginia $861.18
Tennessee $863.39
New Hampshire $864.35
Minnesota $892.17
Arkansas $897.92
Oklahoma $908.95
Missouri $929.91
Alabama $932.14
New Mexico $932.67
Kentucky $935.61
Illinois $939.64
West Virginia $946.03
Utah $954.14
Mississippi $975.58
Oregon $990.00
Alaska $991.09
Pennsylvania $992.33
California $1,051.79
Arizona $1,063.93
Washington $1,066.84
South Carolina $1,114.90
Texas $1,143.85
Colorado $1,174.87
Massachusetts $1,182.69
Maryland $1,236.61
Connecticut $1,237.55
Georgia $1,259.49
District of Columbia $1,289.93
Nevada $1,292.52
Rhode Island $1,382.64
New Jersey $1,395.53
Florida $1,414.17
Delaware $1,440.58
New York $1,445.30
Michigan $1,495.94
Louisiana $1,557.222

The average cost of car insurance across the U.S. is $1,070.47, ranging from $696.37 in Maine to more than $1,550 in Louisiana. So while you could save money if you move from British Columbia to the U.S., if you move from Quebec to Michigan, for example, it’s likely you’ll pay more.

Can Canadians Drive in the US Legally?

You can drive legally in the U.S. for six months as a tourist with a Canadian license. However, things change once you’ve established residency. Depending on the state and how long you’ve been a resident there, you may or may not be able to drive legally in the U.S. with a Canadian driver’s license. However, to get U.S. car insurance, you’ll need a valid U.S. license.

Car Insurance in Canada vs. the US

Car insurance U.S. Canada
Car insurance/proof of financial responsibility required Yes Yes
Must show proof of insurance whenever it’s requested Yes Yes
Combination of fault vs. no-fault laws Yes Yes
Federal or state/province car insurance requirements State Federal
Who pays no-fault claims Insurers Government
What happens if you don’t pay your insurance bill Lose coverage Lose coverage and registration automatically
What residents call insurance ID cards Proof of insurance Pink cards or Canadian Interprovincial Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance Cards

Can You Buy a Car in the U.S. With a Canadian License?

You can buy a car in the U.S. with a Canadian license. However, you may run into issues if you want to get the vehicle registered or insured. This is because it typically requires a valid U.S. driver’s license and proof of insurance. To get a license, you’ll need proof of U.S. residency, which differs by state.3

CheckFYI:

If you’re an American citizen driving in Canada, you can drive for six months without filing any paperwork. Your car insurance will cover you with the same liabilities and limits as it normally would during this time period, provided you have tourist status.4

Bottom Line

Moving countries is even more stressful than moving states, but with some careful planning, you’ll be driving in the U.S. in no time — while also following the letter of the law. Learn more in our auto insurance FAQs below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you insure a Canadian car in America?

Yes, you can insure a Canadian car in America with a U.S. car insurance provider, provided you have a valid U.S. driver’s license.

Can Canadians buy and insure cars in Florida?

As long as they have a U.S. driver’s license, then yes, Canadians can buy and insure cars in Florida.

Can you buy a car in the US if you live in Canada?

You can buy a car in the U.S. if you live in Canada, but it would require a U.S. driver’s license and insurance policy. Most states require proof of residence for a license, so you’d need to have a U.S. residence in addition to your Canadian residence.

Can I have a Canadian and Florida driver’s license?

Yes, technically, you can have both a Canadian and a Floridian driver’s license if you have valid proof of residency in both places.

Citations

  1. U.S. Visas. U.S. Department of State. (2022).
    https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas.html

  2. 2018/2019 Auto Insurance Database Report. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. (2022).
    https://content.naic.org/sites/default/files/publication-aut-pb-auto-insurance-database.pdf

  3. Can I Get U.S. Auto Insurance With a Canadian License? The Detroit Bureau. (2021, June 14).
    https://www.thedetroitbureau.com/guides/insurance/can-i-get-us-auto-insurance-with-a-canadian-license/

  4. Commercial Drivers License Reciprocity With Canada, Notice and Technical Amendment to Part 383. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. (2022).
    https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/international-programs/commercial-drivers-license-reciprocity-canada-notice-and-technical-amendment