West to East Coast - Wanting to buy my own transportation.

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Hi all,

USA is the last leg of my RTW journey East overland. I have a sister on the East coast I’m hoping to get to by November. I’ll be arriving on the West coast in mid-August.

This doesn’t give me much time to plan a route and try to buy my own transportation.

1. How easy is it for a non-resident to buy a car or motorbike? If some documentation is required, I can put the vehicle in my sister’s name as she is a US citizen already with her own transport.

2. As my sister has her own vehicle, she has her own insurance policy and during my visit will put me on her policy. Is this the best way to go to get insured? On top of that, I have my own travel insurance to cover me medically and legally.

3. I’ll be carrying my UK licence and the international driver’s licence from the Post Office. Will that suffice?

4. As a UK citizen, I have 90 days on an ESTA so 80 of those days are likely to be spent on the road getting to her. I have no plan whatsoever and time is already running out. I have a few inspirations for my trip. Americana culture, history, nature, the great outdoors. Route 66? A must or a cliche? I want to see some of the vast American landscape but at the same time visit some of the centre of the country to get absorb that real American feel. And …. Diners. Traditional American diners are going to be my biggest cuisine interest as I believe they’re a dying breed.
I’d appreciate any recommendations of must-sees and places to visit related to the interests above.

jamesdueeast 05/07/13    Gear & equipmentUSA Link Report

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You`ve got it sussed. The only concern is the noise the insurance company might make – without a driver`s license from the States, not sure they even will.

Is your UK license valid for a motorbike? If not, neither is your International Drivers Permit, and US cops are sticky about furriners breaking rules.

Try http://www.roadsideamerica.com for the truly wacky.

PirateAt50 10/07/13    Link Report

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Where are you starting from on the west coast? Yosemite NP, a couple of hundred miles east of San Francisco, is utterly beautiful, and really worth a visit if you have a chance.

I haven’t done Route 66, so afraid can’t help you there, but I recommend driving down the Highway 1 coast road at some point, if you have time, though it may be a detour for you – spectacular scenery, a lovely drive, and lots of quaint towns to stop at along the way.

The Grand Canyon is a cliche, but a must-see. Despite the many iconic photos I’d ever seen of it, the real thing really blew me away – almost literally! (Very windy on the edge!)

Driving through the desert across from California to Nevada is epic, and we didn’t have trouble finding traditional diners in either state while on the road.

It’s easy for a UK citizen with a driving license to hire a vehicle in the US and may well be a lot easier for you than buying, but for buying info see: http://community.usatourist.com/forums/t/556.aspx.

Hope that’s of some help, and have a great trip.


Helen Abramson 10/07/13    Link Report

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Yes, I’m having all sorts of problems and complications with the process of buying a vehicle in America.

Firstly, there’s the Title (or “pink slip”) they call in California. This needs to be had when registering the car, which is done at the local DMV. Then the licence plates. What’s the deal with this? On this website (http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/brochures/fast_facts/ffvr32.htm), it states:

“Most vehicles have sequentially issued “standard” license plates that remain with the vehicle when ownership is transferred. If the license plate is a special interest or personalized license plate, you must decide if you want to retain the plate for use on another vehicle, or release your interest in the plate. ”

But most people tell me that the licence plates stay with the individual and that I will have to register to get my own. For this, and registering the car, I need an address in the state that I buy it. Luckily, my sister has a friend in California who may allow me to use his address so that the DMV can then mail me my new Title (what else do they need it for?).
Then there’s the Use Tax and Sales tax (are they the same thing?). Is there such thing as Road Tax in the USA?

But before registering the vehicle (I assume this to be the correct order – tell me if it’s not), I need to insure the car. My sister’s company near Boston, MA won’t do it. So I need my own. I’ll need to insure myself for 6-12 months and ask them for a rebate on the unused months once I finish the journey,

Then there is the process of transferring the car over to my sister so she can sell it once I’ve left. Someone told me I would have to give her the title, then have her register it, then pay the licence plate fees, then insure it, just so she can sell it. I’ve also been told another (easier) way and that is to just to give her the Title (already signed by me) before I leave, but she only dates it when she finds a seller then she can skip the extra step of registration, licence plates, and insurance. Is that true?

I want to visit the National Parks like Yosemite and Yellow Stone. I’m arriving at LAX airport and I’ll have a few days with my sister’s friend looking for a vehicle. If it doesn’t materiialise, I can take a flight up to San Francisco and start again from there.

jamesdueeast 12/07/13    Link Report

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