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.
|State||How long you have after moving to transfer your license||Required documents||Fees|
||Road test: $15|
||Application fee (amount not listed)|
||Motorcycle endorsement: $12|
|District of Columbia||30 days||
||License: $16-$24, depending on age and license type|
|Massachusetts||Must be more than 12 months after moving||
|Michigan||Can use foreign license as long as it’s in English or has a written English translation with it||
|Missouri||30 days for commercial licenses
Not listed for non-commercial licenses
||License: $26-$52, depending on license type, age, and length of license|
||License: $5.67- $57.17, depending on age|
|New Hampshire||60 days||
||License: $10 per year, for up to 5 years|
|New Jersey||60 days||
|New Mexico||Not listed||
|New York||Only needed if you become a New York resident||
||License: $64.25- $102.50, depending on age and license class|
|North Carolina||60 days||
|North Dakota||60 days||
||License: $38.50-$56.50, depending on type of license|
|Rhode Island||30 days||
|South Carolina||45 days to transfer vehicle title and registration||
|South Dakota||90 days||
||License: $8-$55, depending on license period, class, and age|
|Utah||As soon as you’re a Utah resident (within 6 months of living in the state)||
|Virginia||Do not need to exchange license; can use valid Canadian license||
|West Virginia||30 days||
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)|
|Prince Edward Island||$816|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||$1,168|
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)|
|District of Columbia||$1,289.93|
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.
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/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|
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
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
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.
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.
As long as they have a U.S. driver’s license, then yes, Canadians can buy and insure cars in Florida.
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.
Yes, technically, you can have both a Canadian and a Floridian driver’s license if you have valid proof of residency in both places.
U.S. Visas. U.S. Department of State. (2022).
2018/2019 Auto Insurance Database Report. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. (2022).
Can I Get U.S. Auto Insurance With a Canadian License? The Detroit Bureau. (2021, June 14).
Commercial Drivers License Reciprocity With Canada, Notice and Technical Amendment to Part 383. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. (2022).