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How Do I Make My Car Legal to Drive in a New Country?

How Do I Make My Car Legal to Drive in a New Country?
How Do I Make My Car Legal to Drive in a New Country?

This is How I Make My Car Legal to Drive in a New Country

Just as every state in the US has different protocol in order to register your vehicle and drive legally, so does every country. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to satisfying the requirements of making your vehicle legal after arriving at your destination, so you will need to do some research of your own. In addition to your own research, your international auto transport company can also be a great resource, because they often have direct experience working with your destination country. For example, many countries have strict requirements that you must adhere to in order to import your vehicle, so you will want to first make sure your car satisfies all of these minimum standards. Common stipulations for importation include:

  • Vehicle must be new, or at minimum, must not be older than a certain model year (exceptions often made for classic cars)
  • Vehicle must pass CO2 emissions testing
  • Certain vehicle makes and models may be denied
  • Inspections may be required prior to having your vehicle cleared for shipping

Of courses, these rules are in no way standard across the board, and in no way hold true to every country out there. These laws are also often very fluid and constantly changing, so you need to contact the customs department or consulate of your destination country to verify current rules and regulations.

Again, your international moving company can be a great asset when researching this information, and in many cases can direct you to a point of contact or current website that can answer your questions. In the meantime, there are some basic steps that you can take in order to ensure the process is smooth from start to finish.

Steps to Drive Legally in a Foreign Country

1) Obtain an International Driving Permit.

An easy first step to making sure your vehicle is legal is to make sure you are legally able to drive it first. An International Driving Permit (IDP) acts basically as a translation for your current US issued driver's license, and can be provided in conjunction with your driver's license as valid proof to drive in many (but not all) countries. You can apply for and obtain an IDP by contacting either of the following agencies:

Keep in mind that an IDP is only a temporary solution, and while many countries will accept it, many also place a limit of 30 days on its validity, so contact your country's consulate directly to determine what your next step must be in obtaining a local license to drive.

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2) Research International Road Rules

Before attempting to drive in a foreign country, you should have at minimum a loose grasp on local laws, unique circumstances, safety information, and what to expect in terms of road conditions. An obvious example of differences you may face would be the fact that you must drive on the left side of the road in the U.K., and without prior knowledge, you would put yourself and many others in a very dangerous situation. Make sure you look up information on speed limits, local customs, and driving conditions beforehand, and consider riding as a passenger until you have a firm grasp on the local driving style and a basic familiarity with the lay of the land.

Perhaps one of the most up-to-date and dependable sources of information can be found on the U.S. Passports & International Travel webpage. Here you can actually type in the name of your destination country and be inundated with all country-specific information, including travel alerts, locations (and contact info) for local embassies, and, of course, recent crime and security information. There is also an interactive map you can use to pinpoint certain areas as opposed to searching by country name alone. It is an extremely user friendly resource that is constantly updated, so you will always find the most current information available.

3) Properly Register Your Vehicle.

This is where things get really tricky, because every country is structured so differently. Most countries will have a comparable proceeding to what we have in the U.S. where registration and proper licensing are handled by a department similar to our DMV. Others are much less organized and efficient, and it may take quite some time to get your vehicle ready to be driven legally. Oftentimes, the same paperwork you needed to provide when importing your vehicle will be required again in order to have your vehicle registered. The following documents, although not all-inclusive, will definitely help the process along:

  • S. Current Registration
  • Bill of Sale/Commercial Invoice
  • Bill of Lading
  • Current U.S. Driver's License
  • International Driving Permit (if available)
  • Passport
  • Visa
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4) Obtain Minimum Required Insurance

Whatever policy you have in the U.S. will most likely not transfer over to your destination country, except sometimes in the case of Mexico or Canada, so you will need to obtain additional insurance. If your current insurance provider does not offer foreign auto insurance, you will need to find a provider in your new home country. Again, another great opportunity for your international transport company to put you in touch with a local contact.

By and large, after registering your vehicle properly and obtaining insurance, you should be able to safely and legally drive your car about the country. Make sure you take the time to follow the above steps thoroughly, especially when it comes to safety.

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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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Mylene Rutllant
It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.

Due to the nature of my work, I must relocate every couple of years to where my company needs me. Because of this, I’ve tested several moving and auto transport companies over the years.

And my choice in terms of auto transport has to be A1 Auto Transport. It’s in the name, but also in the quality with which they do their jobs. I’ve never had a problem with this company.

The only time my shipment was delayed was during winter when a snowstorm closed down all the major roads. And they still found an alternative and got my car delivered before roads got unstuck.

When I moved to West Virginia, they picked up my car the very day I called them. I like to think they take special care of me considering all the business I’ve sent them. I’ll continue to support A1 Auto Transport. It’s my number one pick in auto shipping to this day.

Luis Rodriguez
You have my full support and recommendation!

I considered selling my car when I moved to Washington. It was old and rusty, but I grew attached to it. So, I called a couple companies to transport it to my new home, but they both fell through.

The first one couldn’t decide on a schedule. He would constantly change the pickup date till I got frustrated and canceled. The second was insufferable, very rude on the phone, even worse in person.

They started picking a part my car asking me why I still have it. If that’s their opinion of my vehicle, how can I trust they’ll take care of it? If something happened midway, why wouldn’t they just blame it on the car instead of paying up?

So, I cancelled this company as well and turned to A1 Auto Transport. From the get go, they were very different from my past options. Their website was very professional and up to date, full of useful information. I requested a quote using their online form, and I got an email response within an hour. Surprisingly fast!

If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought they were lacking customers, but the email spoke for itself. In just one email, everything I needed to know was there, including a contact number I could use to get more information or confirm the transport.

I called and got things rolling. I was very pleased with the driver. He followed standard procedure and represented his company well. Can’t remember his name, but props to him!

The car arrived in Washington 6 days later in excellent condition. From what I understand, the transport was delayed a bit by a storm, but since the time window was 4-6 days from the beginning, I don’t really care. You have my full support and recommendation!

Testimonial by Cristine Benoit
Cristine Benoit
I can safely say this is a legit company that will get the job done.

There are a lot of options for auto transport these days, which surprisingly makes it harder to find a good company. I received more than 10 offers to ship my car, but I couldn’t decide on any of them.

After doing some research, I got even more worried reading about all the scams and accidents that can happen. But, I have work to do and couldn’t afford to drive my newly purchased Mini Cooper all the way to Virginia.

Fortunately, I made the right choice with A1 Auto Transport. They are very good at their jobs. I spent more than an hour drilling Joe with various questions, and he never once lost his patience. He saw I was interested, so he bore with me until I was satisfied. The driver was also very courteous and my car was intact on arrival. I couldn’t have asked for more.

By the way, the price we first agreed on stayed the same. There were no delays or unexpected “surprises.” I can safely say this is a legit company that will get the job done.

David Osallo
We give A1 Auto Transport a big 10 out of 10!

We give A1 Auto Transport a big 10 out of 10! We chose them to move our car from California to Vermont, since we needed professionals.

We were abroad during the transport, so the transport was a bit tricky. The driver had to pick it up from storage on short notice and get it to its destination within at most 10 days. I was happy to note it arrived sooner. We got it 3 days early, right when we got home to pick it up. It made getting around way easier. Awesome service!

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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
NO. 025472F
CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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