Sales Tax and Registering Your Car in the United States

Before hitting the road in your new car, you will have to register your vehicle with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Registering Your Car in the United States

It is a requirement to register your car in the United States. The requirements and paperwork for registering your vehicle with the DMV will vary according to the state you live in. You are required to provide specific documents for identification and residency that may include a valid U.S. driver’s license, international or home country driver’s license, and/or Social Security card. In addition, you must provide proof that the vehicle is insured.

Sales Tax on a Car in the United States  

When you buy a car in the U.S. the sales tax is not included in the original price, and it is paid for at the time of delivery. If you are leasing your vehicle, the sales tax will be included in your monthly payment.

Registering Your Vehicle

When you purchase your car through International AutoSource, or a local dealership, the registration process will be completed for you. This saves you a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles – the DMV tends to have a reputation in the United States for long lines and unnecessary frustration!

Registering your Car at the Department of Motor Vehicles

If you purchase your car from a private party you will have to visit your local DMV to register your car in the United States. If you’re registering at the local DMV be sure to bring the following paperwork with you:

  1. Title for the vehicle (provided by the seller)
  2. Bill of Sale, or letter from the seller including the vehicle type (year, make, model), selling price and vehicle identification number (VIN)
  3. Proof of your auto insurance
  4. U.S driver’s license, or the specific state requirements for those without a U.S. driver’s license

When you register your car, whether at International AutoSource, a local dealer, or a private party, you will be required to pay license plate and registration fees. It is also at this time that you will pay the sales tax on the value of the vehicle.

At the time of registration, you will receive a temporary registration sticker that shows that you registered your car in the United States. This temporary sticker is typically valid for 30 days, the official registration sticker will arrive in the mail before your temporary sticker expires.

Expat Resources for Driving in the United States

Each state has different registration requirements and tax percentages. For instance, in New York it is not a requirement to bring your Social Security Card, but in Georgia it is. Visit “An Expat’s Guide to Vehicle Registration in the United States” to learn more about registering your vehicle in your state.

For more Expat tips and advice for driving in the U.S., download the free guide ” Top 5 Steps Expats Need To Know for Driving In The U.S.” – a step-by-step guide for expatriates looking to drive in the United States – hassle free. Information includes tips on credit for financing or leasing a vehicle, finding the right vehicle, car insurance, obtaining a U.S. Driver’s License and more!

International AutoSource offers car rentals, leasing and financing for Expats. Our financing, purchasing and leasing programs provide cost savings ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars on a vehicle, saving our customers valuable time and resources while building a much-needed local credit history. Expats can start the process to finance, purchase, or lease a vehicle without a Social Security Number.


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