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Buy, register and insure an RV as non US citizen


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We ar Robert and Ingrid and live in the Netherlands (Europe) and are full-time RVing. We want to travel the US in an rv on our 6 month visa. Therefore we want to buy an rv or bring our own. Our questions are:

  1. Is it possible as a non US citizen with a valid visa to buy and register a vehicle using the address of a mail forwarding service? 
  2. Is it also possible to bring our own European RV and then register it in the US?
  3. Can we get an insurance using the address of a mail forwarding service (for both our own European RV or an RV purchased in the US?

best regards from Robert & Ingrid +31652361793

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1) No citizenship requirement to own a RV or a vehicle in the US. Using mail forwarding varies by the actual location since that is  controlled by county level officials. Contact the Mail Forwarder that you intend to use, they will have better information since they deal with it all the time.

2) Importing an RV, there may be a US certification rule in place. I do not know for sure but RV's do have certification stickers. And having a VIN (vehicle identification number) is most likely required. If the RV is a motorized type then the USEPA may get involved. I know some European automobiles cannot not be brought into the US because they do not conform to US emission laws.

The cost of shipping an RV across the Atlantic would be rather high. You can rent RV's over here.

3) Lots of RVers here get insurance with a mail forwarding address so that must be possible. Bank accounts might be an issue tho, they may require a physical address.

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1) Not only is it possible but there are many visitors from Europe who do buy RVs here and many keep them stored in a convenient location and return each year for some travel. It takes a very long time to see all of the major attractions in the USA. You do need to have an address in the US to register and insure the vehicles and many states do not accept that but Florida, Texas, & South Dakota all do and all are RV friendly. I would suggest that you check out the Escapees RV Club as they can provide many of the services that you will need, including mail service in any of those 3 states. 

2)  It is possible to bring an RV from Europe and we see them from time to time. Most of them do not reregister the RV in the US but I don't know a lot about doing that. I suggest the following articles.    Temporary Vehicle Import to the United States

Vehicle Shipping from Europe to the USA and Canada

3) Yes you can insure your US registered vehicle at the mail service address as long as it is the same as on the registration. As for an imported RV, the linked articles may help with that as I have not fully read either of them.

Edited by Kirk W
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1 hour ago, agesilaus said:

1) No citizenship requirement to own a RV or a vehicle in the US. Using mail forwarding varies by the actual location since that is  controlled by county level officials. Contact the Mail Forwarder that you intend to use, they will have better information since they deal with it all the time.

2) Importing an RV, there may be a US certification rule in place. I do not know for sure but RV's do have certification stickers. And having a VIN (vehicle identification number) is most likely required. If the RV is a motorized type then the USEPA may get involved. I know some European automobiles cannot not be brought into the US because they do not conform to US emission laws.

The cost of shipping an RV across the Atlantic would be rather high. You can rent RV's over here.

3) Lots of RVers here get insurance with a mail forwarding address so that must be possible. Bank accounts might be an issue tho, they may require a physical address.

Thanks Agesilaus! 

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1 hour ago, Kirk W said:

1) Not only is it possible but there are many visitors from Europe who do buy RVs here and many keep them stored in a convenient location and return each year for some travel. It takes a very long time to see all of the major attractions in the USA. You do need to have an address in the US to register and insure the vehicles and many states do not accept that but Florida, Texas, & South Dakota all do and all are RV friendly. I would suggest that you check out the Escapees RV Club as they can provide many of the services that you will need, including mail service in any of those 3 states. 

2)  It is possible to bring an RV from Europe and we see them from time to time. Most of them do not reregister the RV in the US but I don't know a lot about doing that. I suggest the following articles.    Temporary Vehicle Import to the United States

Vehicle Shipping from Europe to the USA and Canada

3) Yes you can insure your US registered vehicle at the mail service address as long as it is the same as on the registration. As for an imported RV, the linked articles may help with that as I have not fully read either of them.

Thank you Kirk W. Really helpful. Best regards Robert & Ingrid.

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You might want to start by contacting Cruise America.  I am not sure about now, but at one time they had a popular program of selling used RVs and buying them back.  Costs were accordingly high, but that can beat the issues of trying to buy and sell for a relatively short term trip of a few months.

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I hosted at a NP in Maryland S. of Baltimore and N. of Dist.of Columbia. A pretty good number of folks shipped their RV's to the port of Baltimore and spent their first time period for a day to 2 weeks there after picking up their RV at the port. We did not have any hook ups for rv's so I don't know what they did about power but I know there was something about shipping them with at least portable propane tanks. I don't know about affixed tanks. Most just bought a portable tank as quick as they reasonabley could. I know one class b type had an issue getting one a proper size for where it went on the  rig.  I know now that for their rig an 11 lb cylinder would work the best.  Usually they stayed there for a short time to coordinate their shipping date sending them back home,  Of course many were on more extensive trips and did not come badk through while I was there or may shipped out of a different port.

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We lived in the USA for a total of about 8 years. From 1996 to 2017. Motorhomes/RVing to pickup and hotels. I'm a figures nutcase!! Spreadsheets multiply on my computer!!

I found that insurance, registration, fuel and campground/hotel fees plus capital costs all came out about the same. Food was a bit more expensive with hotels. RVing was way more stressful setting up and storing. Hotels meant taking what you get. (But there's way around that). The shorter the stay in the USA the more viable hotels are. (We stayed in hotels for up to 3 months at a time). Every town has a hotel. Not every town has an RV park. Backroads aren't an issue in a car. In a nutshell it come down to lifestyle.

Renting becomes viable for periods of a few months at a time. All care no responsibility. Just drop it of and catch a cab to the airport.

Caveat - I'm not handy. We always bought new or new new RVs. Our pickup was new. So maintenance wasn't an issue for me. We belonged to the Choice group of hotels. That gave us a free night every week.

 

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Bruce t, I much prefer my RV with my dirt and germs to a less than cleaned hotel or motel room.  Last week we had to take a 4-day trip for our dog's surgery without our RV. This was the worst hotel experience in my 40 -years of travelling for work.  After checking, we refused to stay in this room or an alternate room.  We left and are still fighting to get our money refunded to our credit card.

And by the same token, you can get sorry campgrounds, but at least you have a clean place to sleep.

Ken

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Our favorite hotel is Comfort Inn which is part of the Choice Hotel chain. Always clean. Comfortable beds. A decent breakfast included. We've made more than one trip going from one Comfort Inn to another; we even stayed in more than one with our RV parked outside. Comfort Inn is not the cheapest available but I believe you get what you pay for in most hotels.

Here's another tip if staying in cheaper hotels that don't provide breakfast. Buy an ice chest so you can have milk and other foods before and while traveling during the days. Simply leave it behind if flying home. Styrofoam coolers are much cheaper than restaurant/hotel food.

Linda Sand

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TXiceman I hear what you are saying. Nothing like your own bed, fridge and pan! We always stayed at higher price hotels that minimized the risk. In the hundreds of hotels we stayed in over the years we have only ever walked out of one. A few we closed our eyes and prayed. But 98% of them are just fine.

sandsys Comfort Inn group has several price 'layers'. These layers give a guide to cleanliness but no guarantee. Avoid airport hotels and areas that look like they may rent the rooms buy the hour. 😘

We always traveled with a cooler. That allowed us to have a slow breakfast or stay in at nights.

Travel is all about compromise. We always had large motorhomes and a toad. The toad was great. But 40ft motorhomes were an issue in many state and national parks. Big cities were also an issue. Travel in an RV is great. Own can. Own bed. Own fridge and freezer full of icecream. But with large RVs you always had to be aware of back road limits. Campground that would have large sites. We got caught a few times on the east coast and up in the north east. We then started to have issues such as slideouts playing up. Air leveling playing up. Just stuff that annoyed me. When we sold our motorhome and car and purchased a pickup we traveled much more. We seen way more of the back roads and small towns. We were quicker to avoid bad weather. For us the down side of hotels was well and truly compensated for by all the extra experience of having the extra mobility. I got work as a freelance photographer and the pickup allowed us to change plans much more easily.

Now having said all that. If we were to come back to the USA we would buy a good pickup and the best small 5th wheel we could find. How small? 30ft and 3 slides. Does such a thing exist?

 

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13 hours ago, bruce t said:

sandsys Comfort Inn group has several price 'layers'. These layers give a guide to cleanliness but no guarantee.

No. Choice Hotels has several price layers. Comfort Inn is one of them. We get what we pay for at Comfort Inn including a full breakfast. (I usually get scrambled eggs with sausage gravy and a bagel with cream cheese.)

Linda

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Just a comment.

As a former "green card holder",  being a US citizen gives you the right to vote and a US Passport to travel.  That's pretty much it.

As a "green card holder", if your young enough, you are eligible for the draft.  You pretty much have the SAME OBILIGATIONS as a US citizen.  Pretty much the same benefits as citizens, except for the right to vote and the passport.

IF your in the country on a temporary VISA, that is a whole different issue.  Never been there or done that.

BUT those laws might be different.

I know that most people do not pay attention to STATUS, anymore, but the laws were written that way.  It might matter and then again it might not.

Anyway, your STATUS in the US is important for the things you can or cannot do.  

The good news, is that you can do LOTS of things in the US, that you cannot do in other countries no matter what your status.

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Each state can and does interpret visa/green card status differently. Long long story but we almost started another civil war between the feds and Texas dmv. Don't take anything for granted. Check directly with each organization for their interpretations.

 

 

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