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UK citizen, bought an RV, help with registering pls


UKMark

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Hi all

Just joined Escapees and it looks like it is going to be the best thing we did!

First post so apologies if this has been covered before. I did do a search but couldn't see anything that was just what I needed.

 

Wife and I are from UK. Visit your beautiful country as regular as possible and rent motor homes. We have decided to take the plunge and buy our own. Rash maybe but we shall see. Anyway, right or wrong, the deed is done! Today we purchased our first fifth wheel RV. Very exciting. Now the reality...

 

I believe (I hope) that by using an address provided by Escapees we can use that for registering the RV (and the truck when we eventually buy that too). Just not sure how it all works.

 

Is there some guidance on what we need to do Pls?

 

In particular, looking at the document you have available for download, there are 3 possible locations, TX, FL or SD. What would be the reason for choosing any one of them?

 

I am sure there will be many more questions but for now, if we can get our vehicle(s) registered, it is a good start.

Many thanks

Mark

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Welcome to the forum. You'll not regret becoming an RVer in the USA. So many things to do and see.

 

OK a few points that may help. Joining Escapees was a good first step. That'll give you an address. To register you'll need insurance so my first suggestion is to get your insurance in order. Insurance in order you can then get registration. My experience is all with motorhomes and toads. So things may be a bit different with a 5th wheel and truck combo. Someone here will chime in if I'm wrong! I somehow feel the exercise would be easier if you already had your truck as you'll have to it all over again.

 

As for which state they all have pros and cons. IMHO being based with Escapees in Livingston make everything easier so my vote would be for Texas registration/insurance.

 

Big hurdle will be insurance for non USA folk who don't have a driving history. Few insurance companies will cover non USA residents. My suggestion is to start here http://www.progressive.com/ . Follow the links and get a quote. Keep in mind that these sites keep your details so be honest and fill it out the best you can. Multiple quotes may ring their bells!!!

 

Good luck.

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Mark, Welcome to the Escapee's RV Club & to the USA! We are pleased to have you join our group as well as coming over to spend time with us.

 

There are actually many from UK that have done what you are thinking of doing and I am sure that there will be many more. I suggest that you start by reading two articles that I have on my website, one authored by another UK citizen and the other written by Bruce T, who is an Australian citizen. Once you do that, we can probably supply answers to most other questions you may have. Welcome!

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Hi and thanks for the replies.

I have read the 2 articles provided and they contain much useful information.

 

However I am still at a bit of a loss over the vehicle registering process and also the home address service provided by Esc.

Is there any reason for choosing any one of the three possible home address options over the others? Most people seem to be opting for Texas but not sure why?

Once I have selected the address option, what is the actual process for registering my new RV? (And truck in the future). Do I have to register it in the same state as the address I have chosen? Do I have to go to the reg office of the state in person to register?

I am sure there will be many more questions along the way.

Thanks in advance for your help

Mark

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Here's an old thread that may help.

 

http://www.rvnetwork.com/index.php?showtopic=109606

 

Keep in mind that in the event of an accident the insurance company may well be interested in the inspection details!

 

As to why Texas? Well in our case it just makes life so much easier. One address. Livingston. It's on our Insurance, registration/inspection. SKP's is also a great place to handle all you mail. One added bonus is the folks at the Livingston tax department. They are so use to folks with 'problems' that they have the answers. Every time I've contacted them they have gone out of their way to help. Don't underestimate the benefit of belonging to Escapees and using their mail facilities. In addition banks, lawyers, insurance etc etc can all be found in Livingston familiar with RV issues.

 

Forgot to mention. If you purchased through a dealer I would be asking them to register it for you. They should know all the steps required.

 

regards

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Do I have to register it in the same state as the address I have chosen?

Yes. Vehicle registrations in the US are by the state and while all states honor those of all others, you must have an address in the state you wish to register the vehicle in and that same address must be used to insure that vehicle.

 

Do I have to go to the reg office of the state in person to register?

Not if you buy through a local dealer. If you buy from some private citizen or from a dealer in another state, then you will need to do so.

 

Most people seem to be opting for Texas but not sure why?

The main reason for this is the Escapees RV Club and the services which they provide beyond just a mail service/address. There is no place as familiar with the process of a person from another country registering vehicles as is the motor-vehicle office in Livingston, TX because of the large volume of requests to do just that. Escapees are by far the largest organization of traveling RV owners and do much more than provide mail service. For specific questions about the registration process, I suggest that you may want to contact the office in Livingston.

 

For Tax and Auto Registration:

Tax Assessor's Office

416 N. Washington

Livingston, TX. 77351

936-327-6801

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Hi again

 

Many thanks to Kirk & Bruce for your valuable help, much appreciated.

 

So if I have got this right the process should be like this.

 

1. Get my TX address arranged through SKPs

2. I can then get the RV insured using the new TX address as my 'home'

3. Get the dealer to then register the now insured RV in TX using my TX address

 

Phew...

 

Ok, so what we are planning on doing is have the dealer store up the RV for a few months whilst we return to the UK to sort out our affairs so we can leave for a bigger trip here. So it will not be used on the road until we return.

 

So what is the requirement for Tax (Tags is that??) on the RV?

Can it wait until we return and actually use the RV?

Do we have to go to the tax office in TX in person to get the tags?

If we have to go to TX to tax it, is it OK to use the vehicle to travel to the tax office whilst it does not have tax?

Any idea what the cost may be?

Do we have to have the inspection to get tags (or do we have to have the inspection earlier on in the process to get insurance or register)

Do we have to have the inspection done in TX?

If so, is it OK to use the vehicle without an inspection to get to the inspection station? Do you have to make a booking in case you get stopped on the way (in the UK we have vehicle tests annually. If your vehicle does not have a valid current test you can drive it to a testing station so long as you have a booked appointment etc)

 

We will then have to repeat all of the above when we return and buy the truck. Is the process the same for trucks? Are there any additional requirements with a truck?

 

Sorry for so many questions but your rules/laws are a bit different to ours and the last thing I want is to get on the wrong side of the law before we even start our adventure here. Immigration officers are tough enough :)

 

Once I have gone through all this maybe I will write a 'UK perspective step by step guide' to help others in future and post it up here. What do you think?

 

Thanks again for all you help

Mark

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OK I'll try and 'smooth' the process. (Keep in mind that Murphy can always interfere with the best plans!!! And other may chime in with a different opinion)

 

"1. Get my TX address arranged through SKPs
2. I can then get the RV insured using the new TX address as my 'home'
3. Get the dealer to then register the now insured RV in TX using my TX address"
Exactly.

 

IMHO the simplest route is to get the dealer to do it all while you sit back and plan your travels. Do the above and give the details to the dealer. Any decent dealer will be able to inspect and register an RV. Even those RVs going out of state. They do this all the time. If not they will/should know how to get it done. Assuming you have your address go online and insure the vehicle. You will be emailed a temporary insurance certificate. Print that and carry it with you. The tax dept will mail the tags/plates to your address. Then, while you are back in the UK, you can have Escapees mail your plates/tags to the dealer. (You could ask to have the tags/plates mailed direct to the dealer). Once that is done you are ready to go.

 

When you buy your pick up you will have your address so just repeat the process. In theory you never have to see Livingston!

 

Something to keep in mind. While in theory credit cards are accepted all over the world many USA based businesses require a credit card with a US billing address. While non US folks can't get a US based credit card you can get a US based debit card. I would suggest opening a US bank account with a debit card facility. Then you'll be set for when you hit the USA billing address issue. My memory is a bit weak at times but some insurance companies may not accept a foreign credit card.

 

Good luck.

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As a side note, I am not sure how you deal with the fact that in TX, if you have a large-ish 5th wheel, you may be required to have a special license. Not sure how it would work with non- USA drivers licenses.

And, in order to get it, you have to pass a driving test while towing the 5th wheel.

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Non US folk can't get a Texas license due to the SSN requirement. (Although there are ways around it!!!) Treaties between countries recognize licenses from other countries. In our case I had a heavy license from Australia. That allowed me to drive any large RV in the USA.

I'm not sure how or who would get involved if you had an accident driving a large vehicle on an in appropriate foreign license. I guess that would be a matter for the police and insurance companies to sort out.

 

I guess the only way to find out is to get pulled over by the police and see what they have to say. :wacko: Mind you I did once an I knew more about the law than the officer did!

 

regards

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In fact it is possible to get a US drivers license as a UK citizen. It is worth trying to get one as insurance will be a lot cheaper and you will have a wider choice.

 

You do not need a SSN.

 

You have to have an I 94 valid for one year. This is the small form you get at immigration.

 

180 days is the usual but if you can give a good reason the official can extend that to one year.

 

The above was the case when I research this matter with the DVLC in Livingston.

 

If you have problems with Insurance talk to Champ Carter in Livingston. They know the ropes with overseas visitors.

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Thanks Quiet Assassin. At the time we approached the Texas DMV they were adamant about the SSN. (Long story but we started a war between the DMV and Social Security re the SSN. By law the DMV can't 'demand' a SSN. Only the IRS can, by law, demand a SSN. But the DMV thought they were above the law!!!! I got my Texas license without a SSN but I'm reluctant to tell others to do the same. Times have changed)

In fact a quick web search came up with the following information re SSN for those who don't qualify for a SSN. http://www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/ssn.htm

 

My only 'maybe' is that insurance is also based on a driving history. License may make it a bit easier tho.

 

My only BUT is that I94 forms nolonger exist!!! Those in charge like to keep changing the rules. I think it's to keep themselves in work!!!

 

regards

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Hi again

Thanks to Bruce again for his follow up message and the info there. I have now applied for the TX address from the SKP team. Working on that one now, just waiting for the address to be created.

Then on to the insurance.

We will get there.

Now, how about the truck.... :)

Cheers

Mark

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Good to see it falling into place for you Mark. It always seems a long road at the start but bit by bit the puzzle comes together. (Every state/country has 'strange' rules. Then again they may only seem strange to those from somewhere else!)

Even though we own and drive a pickup in the USA I have no experience with towing a 5th wheel. I'm sure there are plenty here that will give you advice.

My only caution is to to be careful what salesmen tell you. A sale is a sale so they just may tell you anything. If it were me I would go bigger/heavier than you may first think. Remember stopping is more important than towing.

As for buying are you thinking of new or use?

 

regards

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Hi Bruce

Looking at a recent used model. Say 2013 oldest, pref a 2014. Budget upto 50k max.

I guess the main choices are

 

Gas/Diesel

Single wheel/Dual (prefer single as it will be easier to drive around when not towing)

 

Have heard that the ride on trucks can be a bit harsh. I have test driven a Ford 250 and Dodge 2500 (both diesel) and found the Dodge was much firmer than the Ford. Not driven a Chevvy yet. And of course this was just the usual 10 minute trip around the block. Nothing serious and not towing.

 

So if anybody has any ideas/thoughts, Pls let me know

Thanks

Mark

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Mark we have 2013 RAM. Love it. Drives better than a car! 5.7 gas. I can't tell you the pros and cons of towing but I do know that there are lots of good deals to be had out there. Dealers can 'modify' prices if you shop around and do your homework. We purchased new from a dealer and paid about 70% of the invoice price. That's a common target price.

PM me if you want some tips on where to get a good deal. I know a Texas dealer who will bend over backwards to move units. I researched a zillion or more deals and found some dealers meant what their ads said while other tried to screw every cent they could out of you.

 

regards

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Single wheel/Dual (prefer single as it will be easier to drive around when not towing)

 

Have heard that the ride on trucks can be a bit harsh. I have test driven a Ford 250 and Dodge 2500 (both diesel) and found the Dodge was much firmer than the Ford. Not driven a Chevvy yet. And of course this was just the usual 10 minute trip around the block. Nothing serious and not towing.

If you are planning on a truck and fifth wheel trailer, you need to know what the trailer will weigh before you select a truck. The towing capacity of the trucks varies widely and it is critical to safe, comfortable handling of the trailer that you plan to tow. With larger trailers you will need a dual wheel truck for better stability when towing, even though they do take more space to park when driving without the RV. You also will probably need to look at the 3500/350 series trucks or larger, unless you plan to buy a pretty small fifth wheel.

 

Diesel trucks in general will tow a large trailer much better than the gasoline powered ones so you should probably be looking at those. By the budget of $50,000 are you meaning for the truck alone, or for the truck and trailer combined?

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I thought that in order to register in TX you need a TX DL? There is another option that will immediately bring lots of responses. Register the vehicles using your TX address but under a Montana LLC. Your UK license is fine. You will not have to pay any sales tax. If you need a CC with a US address simply get your UK CC but use the Escapee address as your mailing address. You may need to get the CC with your UK location and then change it to the USA.

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If you are planning on a truck and fifth wheel trailer, you need to know what the trailer will weigh before you select a truck. The towing capacity of the trucks varies widely and it is critical to safe, comfortable handling of the trailer that you plan to tow.

The fiver is a Palamino Sabre, 32ft, 12,000 GVWR, 8,800 dry weight, 1,800 hitch weight. If that helps.

 

By the budget of $50,000 are you meaning for the truck alone, or for the truck and trailer combined?.

Just the truck. The fiver is already bought.

 

Many thanks

Mark

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  • 2 weeks later...

I thought to add to this post as I've been going through the same challenges. We have just moved from Australia and are in Texas presently for a short time before heading off for a longer trip, in a 5th Wheeler.

 

  • We have a 2 year E3 visa from Australia (My wife the main applicant with me being a depedant visa) - the i94 is online now, and is easily looked up by DMV staff for DL.
  • On this visa I can apply for SSN, but currently don't have. But had a letter from Social Security agency to say I can't currently get one, which satisfied DMV in pursing a Drivers Licence.
  • I currently have a hitch in getting a DL though, ands it's a clearance thing, from Homeland security - just a formality - or delay or 2-6 weeks - that I need to receive a letter from HS after which I can go back in for the DL test - I'm told insurance will be somewhat cheaper with US DL. (A thing to note was some insurance agencies would give you insurance, but expect you to get a Drivers Licence within a short time)
  • I have purchased a truck and had it titled and registered in TX by the dealer - simple process, needing just my Australian DL and passport with local Escapee address.
  • I have also recently taken delivery of a new 5th wheel that I purchased interstate and had delivered. This mean's I have to title and register in Polk County, which i'm told I have to do in person. - It has 30 day temporary plates from seller.
  • It was simple to get Insurance for the Truck and the 5th Wheel - We had a US debit card - having no SSN or US credit history is a pain but doable.
  • As for total weight of truck and trailer, I think you can go up to 26,000 GCVW before you need a Commerical drivers licence, in TX, at least that's what I was told/understood. Our Dually/Trailer combo could be as high as 23,000.
  • I wanted a Single Rear Wheel (SRW) truck but our 15,800lb max trailer (Silverback 35QB4) was over limit in load rating for most older trucks. The later truck models 2013+ have greater ratings.

Go SRW if possible, the Dually is ok, but it isn't as easy to drive or park, no matter what people may say. :)

 

All the best.

Matt

(Edit: i've been driving our Dually around now over 7k miles and i'm very happy i've got a dually. I'm now somewhat a veteran of parking and navigating narrow roads in roadworks. One thing I have noticed is that the road's IN US are not always the best. You feel it with the stiffer suspension, but with the unexpected potholes and bounces over overpasse joins, i'm glad of the dually, as i've never felt out of control, hitting an unexpected jolt doing 60+miles down the interstate.)

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I thought to add to this post as I've been going through the same challenges. We have just moved from Australia and are in Texas presently for a short time before heading off for a longer trip, in a 5th Wheeler.

Welcome to the Escapee RV Club & to the USA!

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If you are going to stay on the 'relatively' flat lands then perhaps having a truck trailer combination where the trailer is at the top of the trucks towing capacity will be OK. But if there is any chance of you doing any mountain driving I would go up a level in truck capacity and engine size and consider having the engine brake option.

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I can't imagine all the running around to get a DL just to save a few dollars on insurance. It's not for me. I'm a lazy bugger and what is easy is easy for me! The thing is that even with a DL the insurance company will have no driving history so it will still be expensive. After 5 years, regardless of DL or not, the rate will be the same. (Assuming no claims). I'm not knocking the effort required to get a DL. Just that it's a lot of work for a few hundred dollars of savings over 5 years. (The E3 visa makes a difference. It's essentially a work visa).

 

Mavarik proves that there is more than one way to get started. For every foreigner there is a new twist on how to hit the road. That is why it is important to remember that there are many paths to the same destination.

 

The 'simple', albeit more expensive, steps are to get an address, a US bank account and a debit card. With those items almost everything can be done.

 

regards

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The 'simple', albeit more expensive, steps are to get an address, a US bank account and a debit card. With those items almost everything can be done.

regards

Hi Bruce and Matt

Thanks Matt for the ideas and advice. I would agree with Bruce about the basics to get started. We have a US bank account (dead easy to get, just needed our passport and a bit of cash to prime the pump) for which we have a Debit card. Works everywhere no problem, even online. They did offer us a 'pre-loaded' credit card. Which essentially means we give them $500 (or whatever amount we chose) and they give us a card with a credit limit of the same amount. Basically we give them the cash and they give us a card to spend it. Sounds just like a debit card BUT big difference is that it starts to count towards a credit rating with the bank. A debit card will never do that as we found when we enquired about short term finance to buy the RV (it took a while to move $30000 over from the UK so we thought a short term load would help) . We were told no way, but if we had used a pre-loaded credit card without issue for a while they may have done it. Something to think about but we are happy enough with our debit card for now.

The address is sorted via the SKPs. We have our Texas address and managed to insure the RV without issue. In fact after calling them back to discuss the quote further the price dropped from $1500 to just under $600, fully comp coverage etc. seemed like a good deal. That was with Progressive. They give you a login to an online account to get all docs (cert of insurance etc) and manage your policy (add items, change details etc). All very slick. Highly recommended.

 

So, still the thorny issue of which Truck to buy. I am still confused by the choice and numbers involved. Not to make this post any bigger I will post again with some more questions/details. Any help gratefully received.

 

BTW, visa wiling, we are definitely coming back in Sept. The last 3 months in this wonderful country have been truly amazing. Thank you America!

 

Cheers

Mark

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