Foreign License Insurance in North Carolina


When a non-citizen visits the U.S. and needs their own form of transportation, they must first obtain an International Driving Permit before they can legally drive here in the States. This permit must be obtained before the individual enters the country. That’s because you cannot get one here. Visitors will need to get one from their home country as they are making plans for their trip. Along with this permit, non-residents should also have their driver’s license from their country on hand any time they are behind the wheel. In some states, the law requires both forms of identification.


Requirements for Obtaining Foreign License Insurance and a Driver’s License


Foreign drivers must have either a licensed issued by the state of North Carolina, or one issued by their home state in the U.S.  International driver’s licenses are not honored in North Carolina. So, if someone is only visiting the area and not planning to stay for an extended period, they should look for other forms of transportation during their visit to North Carolina. In most cases, if you have an international driver’s license that is up-to-date, that license is valid for up to one year after the date you entered the U.S.


It’s important that all foreign drivers relocating to the United States become familiar with the local state and federal driving laws. Since the laws in each state can vary, it’s a good idea to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in North Carolina to obtain recommendations for laws and safety practices. This should be done before you attempt to take out a foreign license insurance plan to save yourself some time.


Applying for a North Carolina Driver’s License


Foreign license insurance seekers can apply for a driver’s license in North Carolina the same way that any U.S. citizen applies for one. The only difference is that there are a few additional document requirements.


If a Social Security number is issued to a non-citizen, to get their foreign license insurance, they will need to either show their Social Security Card, or proof of their number. This proof can be shown using a W-2 Form, a DD-214 Form, or Property Tax Records.


Even if a foreign license insurance seeker hasn’t been issued a Social Security Number, they will still need to show that their presence in the United States is legal. This can be proven with documents such as their I-766 Employment Authorization Card, their I-551 Permanent Resident Card, or their I-94 Arrival/Departure Card.


Purchasing Car Insurance Using a Foreign Driver’s License


All insurance companies are different and therefore not every company will offer auto insurance to you if you don’t have a valid U.S. Driver’s License. There are some companies that will work with a foreign license insurance seeker if their foreign driver’s license is still valid. However, in most cases that is only if you show proof that you are getting a license in the United States within the next 30 days.


Remember that no insurance company will sell you a car insurance policy if you don’t have a valid license. An international driver’s permit will only allow you to drive a car internationally. It does not allow you to purchase insurance for the car. If you are waiting until you receive your license to take out a new policy, you can still compare insurance quotes so that you may discover a deal on North Carolina auto policies.


What to Do If you are involved in an Accident


Generally, the same rules apply even if the person is a foreign license insurance policyholder following a car accident. Both U.S. Citizens and foreign license insurance policyholders, should always follow the safety guidelines issued by your state’s DMV. Check to see if you or your passengers have any injuries first. If anyone requires medical attention, call 9-1-1 immediately, or have someone else make the call for you if you are unable to do so. You shouldn’t move your car until the police have arrived and had a chance to look over the scene of the accident. While you are waiting for the police to arrive, you should take this time to exchange information with the driver of the other vehicle.


The information that you will need includes:


  • Their name, contact number and license ID number
  • License plate number, make, model and year of their car
  • Their registration number and expiration date
  • The name of their insurance provider and their policy number


It’s important that all foreign drivers learn about the rules and requirements to legally drive in the United States and how to obtain a foreign license insurance policy. These laws will vary from one state to another. Therefore, you shouldn’t rely on what is required in another state.


If you are planning to relocate to North Carolina, you should apply for a new driver’s license as soon as possible. This will help you take care of other requirements such as obtaining auto insurance, and help guarantee that you are following all the local driving laws for North Carolina.

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