You can buy a car without documentation or a license as long as you have car insurance.
For Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) grantees and undocumented citizens, normal transactions like buying a car become a bit more complicated. Technically, you can buy a car in the United States without U.S. citizenship — dealers won’t even ask you about it. However, in every state except New Hampshire and Virginia, you need auto insurance to buy a car. To obtain insurance, you may need a driver’s license. However, there are some workarounds.
Buying a new car? In all states that require car insurance, i.e., 48 states plus Washington, D.C., you’ll need insurance before you can drive your vehicle off the lot. You’ll also need a car registration and license plates.
However, you don’t necessarily need a license to get auto insurance, as you’ll see below.
Auto insurance for undocumented immigrants is a bit more complicated than it is for U.S. citizens, especially if you don’t have a license. However, you can get car insurance without a license through the following methods:
Of course, without a driver’s license, you can’t legally drive in the U.S. This means that if you’re driving without a license, car insurance won’t cover you in the event of an accident or other vehicle-related incidents.
If the problem isn’t your lack of documentation but a lack of funds, some states offer programs to help low-income residents get auto insurance. For example, in California, where car insurance is expensive, the state has a Low Cost Auto Insurance Program that provides liability insurance at low rates for eligible families. To qualify, you must:
|Number of people living in your household||Maximum income per household||Maximum income per person|
Check your state’s official website to find out if there’s a similar program that can help you find cheap auto insurance.
If you’re an undocumented immigrant, you can get a driver’s license in 18 states and Washington, D.C.2 Check below to see whether or not you’ll be able to get a license, as an undocumented immigrant, in your state (including Washington, D.C.).
|State/Location||Can undocumented immigrants get driver’s licenses?|
|District of Columbia||Yes|
If you live in a state that doesn’t allow undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses, you can get one through DACA in every state except Arizona and Nebraska.3
Arizona and Nebraska are the only two states that have actively prevented DACA grantees from being eligible for driver’s licenses.
DACA is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects eligible undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. when they were children from being deported for a two-year period. It also provides these immigrants with work authorization.
The criteria for DACA eligibility are as follows.
Enrolled in school? Check out the best auto insurance for college students.
If all goes well, you’ll join the 91 percent of Americans who own cars, even as a DACA grantee or undocumented citizen. If you’re unable to get a license or insurance, consider using other forms of transportation, like ridesharing and public transit. Learn more about car ownership for undocumented immigrants below.
Technically, yes, illegal immigrants can finance cars. However, finding auto loans is more difficult for undocumented buyers than it is for documented immigrants and U.S. citizens.
DACA recipients receive the following benefits:
Yes, some auto insurance companies will let you get car insurance using your ITIN instead of your Social Security number.
Yes, someone with an ITIN can get a Social Security number. But once they get it, they must stop using their ITIN on their tax returns and use their Social Security number instead, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
Home Page. California’s Low Cost Auto Insurance. (2023)
States Offering Driver’s Licenses to Immigrants. National Conference of State Legislatures. (2023, Jan 16).
Access to Driver’s Licenses for Immigrant Youth Granted DACA. National Immigration Law Center. (2020, Jul 22).
Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. (2023).