As a US citizen with a UK driver’s license visiting CA for 6 months, what do I need to do in order to drive legally?

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I am a US citizen with a UK driver’s license. I am coming for a 5-6months trip to the US for a road trip and so live with relatives (zip 95136). I plan to buy a conversion van (like a Ford E150) for me to drive around the US and canada while I visit.

How should I go about getting car insurance for this?
Do I need an international driver’s license?”

Asked August 28, 2015

1 Answer


In order to drive legally in the state of California make sure to pack your UK driver’s license. The state of California is different from other states. With your UK driver’s license you will be able to drive in the state of California without any issues. Your UK driver’s license will suffice as a driver’s license in the state of California. If you are planning on traveling outside of the state of California then you will more than likely need an International Driving Permit (IDP). Other names for this form are an International Driver License or International License. An IDP is simply documentation that translates information from your UK driver’s license into 10 languages. An IDP is accepted in 150 countries and contains your photo, name, and driver information. With an IDP you will be able to travel to Canada and drive on their streets with no problems. One important thing to remember before you leave the UK and head for California, make sure that your UK driver’s license is not expired. If you license is expired in the UK then it will be expired in the United States. An expired UK driver’s license will also make it impossible to obtain an IDP. An expired license can complicate things for you in the US and in Canada, so make sure that your license is up to date before you set off on your trip.

If you are planning to receive an IDP remember there are

  • A completed international driving permit application
  • $15 U.S. dollars to cover the cost of the permit fee
  • Two original passport pictures with your signature on the back
  • A photocopy of your driver’s licenses (both sides)

Since you are planning on purchasing a vehicle to drive while in California instead of obtaining one through a rental company or borrowing one from a relative, you must purchase your own car insurance. The type of insurance that is required for you to obtain is based on a couple of a factors. The main factors are the value and the type of car that you are purchasing. A car that is of low value will need the basic liability insurance. This could include only liability with fire, theft, willful damage, personal injury protection (PIP). If the car is of a higher value than you may want to protect your investment with the assistance of Comprehensive insurance. Though Comprehensive insurance is not required for you to legally drive in the United States it is good to have for protection.

Answered September 9, 2015 by cabrux

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