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Last updated: March 10, 2023

Car Ownership for Undocumented Immigrants and DACA Grantees

You can buy a car without documentation or a license as long as you have car insurance.

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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 Car

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.

Getting Car Insurance

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:

  • You list yourself as excluded from your insurance policy, meaning it won’t cover you and you can’t drive the car.
  • You list someone who is a licensed driver.
  • You have a co-owner who is a licensed driver.

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.

What to Do If You Can’t Afford Insurance

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:

  • Have the following items: a valid California driver’s license; current vehicle registration; an initial deposit for payment; proof of income level, Social Security, and welfare benefits, among other things.
  • Be at least 16 years of age
  • Have a good driving record or be a new driver, such as a teen driver
  • Own a vehicle with a maximum value of $25,000
  • Meet the income requirements listed below1
Number of people living in your household Maximum income per household Maximum income per person
1 $33,975 $33,975
2 $45,775 $22,888
3 $57,575 $19,192
4 $69,375 $17,344
5 $81,175 $16,235
6 $92,975 $15,496
7 $104,775 $14,968
8 $116,575 $14,572
9 $128,375 $14,264
10 $140,175 $14,018
11 $151,975 $13,816
12 $163,775 $13,648
13 $175,575 $13,506
14 $187,375 $13,384
15 $199,175 $13,278
16 $210,975 $13,186
17 $222,775 $13,104
18 $234,575 $13,032
19 $246,375 $12,967
20 $258,175 $12,909

Check your state’s official website to find out if there’s a similar program that can help you find cheap auto insurance.

Getting a Driver’s License

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?
Alabama No
Alaska No
Arizona No
Arkansas No
California Yes
Colorado Yes
Connecticut Yes
Delaware Yes
District of Columbia Yes
Florida No
Georgia No
Hawaii Yes
Idaho No
Illinois Yes
Indiana No
Iowa No
Kansas No
Kentucky No
Louisiana No
Maine No
Maryland Yes
Massachusetts Yes
Michigan No
Minnesota No
Mississippi No
Missouri No
Montana No
Nebraska No
Nevada Yes
New Hampshire No
New Jersey Yes
New Mexico Yes
New York Yes
North Carolina No
North Dakota No
Ohio No
Oklahoma No
Oregon Yes
Pennsylvania No
Rhode Island Yes
South Carolina No
South Dakota No
Tennessee No
Texas No
Utah Yes
Vermont Yes
Virginia Yes
Washington Yes
West Virginia No
Wisconsin No
Wyoming No

What to Do in All Other States

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.

All About DACA

What Is DACA?

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.

Who Is Eligible?

The criteria for DACA eligibility are as follows.

  • Age: You must have been under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012.
  • When you came to the U.S.: You must have arrived in the U.S. before you turned 16.
  • How long you’ve lived in the U.S.: You must have lived in the U.S. from June 15, 2007, to the present day.
  • Your current location: You must be in the U.S. at the time you request deferred action.
  • Your lawful status: You must not have been a legal immigrant on June 15, 2012, or someone whose immigration status has expired.
  • Education or military service: You must either be in school currently, have graduated or completed high school or received your GED, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces.
  • Criminal history: You must not have any past convictions of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors. You must also not pose a public safety or national security threat.4


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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can an illegal immigrant finance cars?

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.

What benefits do DACA recipients receive?

DACA recipients receive the following benefits:

  • They are granted temporary relief from deportation for a two-year period.
  • They receive temporary work permits, letting them access jobs with a higher average hourly wage and pursue their long-term career goals.
  • They receive education opportunities by being able to enroll in educational institutions more easily.

Can you get car insurance with an ITIN?

Yes, some auto insurance companies will let you get car insurance using your ITIN instead of your Social Security number.

Can someone with an ITIN get a 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.


  1. Home Page. California’s Low Cost Auto Insurance. (2023)

  2. States Offering Driver’s Licenses to Immigrants. National Conference of State Legislatures. (2023, Jan 16).

  3. Access to Driver’s Licenses for Immigrant Youth Granted DACA. National Immigration Law Center. (2020, Jul 22).

  4. Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. (2023).