Car insurance for international drivers in the U.S.

Foreign drivers staying in the U.S. need car insurance to drive, but how to get coverage depends on how long and where they stay in the country.

Rachael Brennan headshotAndrew Hurst

By

Rachael Brennan

Rachael Brennan

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Rachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.

&Andrew Hurst

Andrew Hurst

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Andrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

Updated|5 min read

Policygenius content follows strict guidelines for editorial accuracy and integrity. Learn about our editorial standards and how we make money.

Like permanent residents of the U.S., international drivers who are visiting the country must have car insurance to drive legally. Driving for even a short period without car insurance can cause foreign drivers major financial and legal headaches.

Compare rates and shop affordable car insurance today

We don't sell your information to third parties.

If you’re not staying in the U.S. for long, you could get temporary insurance from a rental car company. For longer stays you’ll have to find a company that offers car insurance coverage to drivers with a foreign license.

Key takeaways

  • Foreign drivers staying in the U.S. for a short period and renting a car can get insurance through the rental agency.

  • Foreign drivers on long-term or permanent stays will have to get their own car insurance.

  • The car insurance requirements for non-U.S. residents who are staying in the country are the same as they are for permanent residents.

  • Undocumented immigrants and non-citizens also need a driver’s license to get insurance, but most can only get a license in 16 states and the District of Columbia.

Do you need an international driver’s license to get car insurance in the U.S.?

International drivers have to be licensed to get insurance coverage in the U.S. You don’t need an American license, though. Lots of car insurance companies accept foreign drivers’ licenses from international travelers.

Depending on where you’re staying, you might need an International Driving Permit (IDP) in order to drive. [1] This isn’t a license though. Instead, an IDP verifies in a few languages that you have a valid driver’s license in your home country.

Some states, insurance providers, and rental car companies require you to carry an IDP in addition to your foreign license in order to rent a car, get insurance, and drive while you’re in the U.S. An IDP isn’t needed everywhere, but you have to apply for one in your home country before you travel.

Temporary car insurance for foreign drivers

Even for short stays, foreign visitors still need car insurance if they’re planning to drive. International drivers visiting the U.S. can get temporary car insurance through their rental car company or by using a friend’s vehicle. 

Your rental car company’s insurance gives you enough coverage to drive legally. You can add extra protection, too. Rental insurance add-ons can be expensive, but they protect foreign drivers from having to pay for damages themselves after an accident.

Another way that foreigners can get temporary car insurance while they’re visiting the U.S. is by getting permission to drive a friend or relative’s car. The car’s owner should first contact their car insurance company and make sure this is allowed — some companies deny coverage to drivers with foreign driving licenses.

Long-term car insurance for international drivers

If you’re a foreign visitor who’s staying in the U.S. for several months or more, you might have to get your own car insurance. This can be difficult. Although some companies offer car insurance to foreign drivers, not all do.

As long as you have your regular driver’s license (and your IDP in states where you need it), you’ll be able to apply and sign up for coverage. Reputable short-term insurance isn’t common, so prepare to get a policy that lasts for either a six- or twelve-month period.

Companies that offer car insurance for foreign drivers

According to our research, Progressive, Bristol West, and GEICO all offer car insurance to drivers with a foreign license. Most major insurance companies and many smaller, local companies will offer coverage for foreign drivers, but coverage availability may vary from one state to the next. 

If you have a foreign driver’s license and are having trouble finding coverage, you can contact companies directly for a quote or you can work with Policygenius to get quotes from multiple companies.

→ Read our analysis of the best auto insurance companies in the U.S.

Compare rates and shop affordable car insurance today

We don't sell your information to third parties.

What does car insurance cost foreign drivers?

The cost of auto insurance is higher for international drivers than it is for those who are licensed in the U.S. Even if you’ve been driving for years in your native country, you’ll still be considered “newly-licensed” by domestic insurers.

We’ve found that insurance for newly-licensed drivers can cost hundreds of dollars more per month than for others. International drivers who will need temporary car insurance should budget for high costs of coverage when planning their trip.

Car insurance for non-U.S. citizens and undocumented immigrants

Foreign drivers who move to the U.S. still need insurance, even if they’re undocumented. But depending on where you live, it could be difficult to get insured if you’re not a citizen.

Insurance companies require you to have a driver’s license to get coverage, but only some states allow undocumented immigrants to get a driver’s license. Only 16 states and the District of Columbia allow undocumented drivers to get a driver’s license.

If you don’t live in these states but you’re an undocumented immigrant and qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, you can get a driver’s license in every state and, eventually, get insured. [2]

Car insurance requirements for foreign drivers

Foreign drivers have to get the same amount of car insurance as residents of the states they visit. Nearly every state requires drivers to carry at least one form of liability insurance coverage, including:

  • Bodily injury liability: Covers the injuries that you cause to another person during a crash.

  • Property damage liability: Covers the cost of repairing or replacing someone else’s property you damage.

Since states have different insurance requirements, drivers living in some places have to get other kinds of insurance in addition to their liability coverage:

  • Uninsured motorist coverage (UMBI): Protects you in case you’re hit by someone who doesn’t have any insurance.

  • Personal injury protection (PIP): Covers your injuries and other expenses that are caused by a crash, even if you’re responsible.

International drivers don’t need to adjust their car insurance as they cross state lines. Even though states require different amounts of car insurance, you’ll be covered by one policy if you temporarily visit a state with different insurance requirements.

State

Liability

PIP

UMBI

Cost of minimum coverage

Alabama

$25/$50/$25

Optional

Optional

$611

Alaska

$50/$100/$25

Optional

Optional

$433

Arizona

$25/$50/$15

Optional

Optional

$640

Arkansas

$25/$50/$25

Optional

Optional

$524

California

$15/$30/$5

Optional

Optional

$601

Colorado

$25/$50/$15

Optional

Optional

$544

Connecticut

$25/$50/$25

Optional

$25/$50

$949

Delaware

$25/$50/$10

$15/$30

Optional

$988

District of Columbia

$25/$50/$10

Optional

$25/$50/$5

$678

Florida

--/--/$10

$10,000

Optional

$1,253

Georgia

$25/$50/$25

Optional

Optional

$817

Hawaii

$20/$40/$10

$10,000

Optional

$424

Idaho

$25/$50/$15

Optional

Optional

$400

Illinois

$25/$50/$20

Optional

$25/$50

$558

Indiana

$25/$50/$25

Optional

Optional

$453

Iowa

$20/$40/$15

Optional

Optional

$317

Kansas

$25/$50/$25

$4,500

$25/$50

$493

Kentucky

$25/$50/$10

$10,000

Optional

$931

Louisiana

$15/$30/$25

Optional

Optional

$993

Maine

$50/$100/$25

$2,000

$50/$100

$448

Maryland

$30/$60/$15

Optional

$30/$60/$15

$898

Massachusetts

$20/$40/$5

$8,000

$20/$40

$612

Michigan

$50/$100/$10

Varies

Optional

$888

Minnesota

$30/$40/$10

$20,000

$25/$50

$547

Mississippi

$25/$50/$25

Optional

Optional

$543

Missouri

$25/$50/$10

Optional

$25/$50

$564

Montana

$25/$50/$10

Optional

Optional

$497

Nebraska

$25/$50/$25

Optional

$25/$50

$424

Nevada

$25/$50/$20

Optional

Optional

$958

New Hampshire

Optional

Optional

Optional

$462

New Jersey

$20/$40/$10

$15,000

Match liability limits

$1,154

New Mexico

$25/$50/$10

Optional

Optional

$459

New York

$25/$50/$10

$50,000

$25/$50

$974

North Carolina

$30/$60/$25

Optional

Match liability limits

$423

North Dakota

$25/$50/$25

$30,000

$25/$50

$406

Ohio

$25/$50/$25

Optional

Optional

$386

Oklahoma

$25/$50/$25

Optional

Optional

$496

Oregon

$25/$50/$20

$15,000

Match liability limits

$769

Pennsylvania

$15/$30/$5

$5,000

Optional

$501

Rhode Island

$25/$50/$25

Optional

Optional

$868

South Carolina

$25/$50/$25

Optional

Match liability limits

$779

South Dakota

$25/$50/$25

Optional

$25/$50

$339

Tennessee

$25/$50/$15

Optional

Optional

$460

Texas

$30/$60/$25

Optional

Optional

$643

Utah

$25/$65/$15

$3,000

Optional

$672

Vermont

$25/$50/$10

Optional

$50/$100/$10

$380

Virginia

$25/$50/$20

Optional

Optional

$570

Washington

$25/$50/$10

Optional

Optional

$619

West Virginia

$25/$50/$25

Optional

Match liability limits

$626

Wisconsin

$25/$50/$10

Optional

$25/$50

$348

Wyoming

$25/$50/$20

Optional

Optional

$321

Slashes in the liability and UMBI columns separate per-person and per-incident amounts of bodily injury liability coverage, and property damage liability requirements.

Compare rates and shop affordable car insurance today

We don't sell your information to third parties.

Frequently asked questions

How does car insurance for international drivers work?

Drivers who have a foreign license and are staying in the U.S. have to have the same insurance as permanent residents. Some international drivers can get temporary insurance from their rental car company. Others who are staying in the country longer will have to get their own policies.

Can you get car insurance in the U.S with an international drivers license?

Yes, companies do offer coverage to drivers with an international license for periods lasting six months to one year. International drivers can’t get coverage from every insurer, though.

How much is car insurance for non-U.S. residents?

The average cost of car insurance for most drivers is $1,652 per year, but coverage could be hundreds of dollars more expensive for non-U.S. residents. This is because foreign visitors won’t have driving histories in the United States and will be considered newly licensed drivers by insurance companies.

Methodology

Policygenius experts analyzed hundreds of thousands of quotes from more than 130 companies to find the cost of auto insurance for foreign drivers, who would be considered newly licensed by most companies.

The rates we used to find the cheapest insurance companies were provided by Quadrant Information Services. Our sample driver, a driver of a 2017 Toyota Camry, was insured for the following limits:

  • Bodily injury liability: $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident

  • Property damage liability: $50,000 per accident

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist: $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident

  • Comprehensive: $500 deductible

  • Collision: $500 deductible

Some carriers may be represented by affiliates or subsidiaries. Rates provided are a sample of costs. Your actual quotes may differ.

References

dropdown arrow

Policygenius uses external sources, including government data, industry studies, and reputable news organizations to supplement proprietary marketplace data and internal expertise. Learn more about how we use and vet external sources as part of our

editorial standards.
  1. United States Government

    . "

    Foreign Nationals Driving in the U.S.

    ." Accessed August 02, 2022.

  2. National Immigration Law Center

    . "

    Access to Driver’s Licenses for Immigrant Youth Granted DACA

    ." Accessed August 02, 2022.

Authors

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Rachael Brennan

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

gray linkedin icon link

Rachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Andrew Hurst

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

gray linkedin icon link

Andrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

Questions about this page? Email us at .