A Complete Guide to Auto Insurance for International Students

8 mins read
A Complete Guide to Auto Insurance for International Students

49 out of 50 states in the US require a minimum amount of auto insurance in order to drive legally. Obtaining insurance is easy for US citizens, but for young people coming to study from abroad, auto insurance for international students can be a bit confusing.

A car is all but necessary to travel while you're studying. Car insurance policies for international students exist to help people in this situation get the coverage they need so they can get the education they want.

Read on to learn more about auto insurance requirements for international students.

How to Get Auto Insurance for International Students

The auto insurance requirements are a little more strict for international students, and the process takes a little longer than it does for citizens. For example, US auto insurance companies have policies available for international students, but some will require as many as 3 years driving in the US before you can qualify.

car insurance

Unfortunately, the cost of insurance for international students is a bit higher than it is for US citizens. The cost disparity stems from the amount of risk an insurance company takes on when insuring someone from another country.

Typically, the risk is higher because information on international students' history is limited. However, some companies will take into consideration the student's driving record in their home country, which can be very helpful.

Necessary Documentation

The following documentation is essential if you want to get an auto insurance provider to insure you. It can be helpful to have everything together before you speak with any insurance companies.


Your Driver's License

Anyone who wants to drive in the US needs a valid driver's license from their home state. In the case of international students, you will need a valid driver's license issued by your home country.

You will then be issued an International Driver's Permit for use in the United States.

In some states, it's possible to have your driver's license issued by your home country transferred to a valid US driver's license. International students should check their home state's DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) website for more information.

International Driver's Permit

To get an International Driver's Permit in the US, you need to apply at the American Automobile Association (AAA), or at the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA).

These are the only two organizations that can issue an International Driver's Permit. Watch out for unscrupulous companies who may try to trick you into buying fake ones.

Your Driving Record

Your previous driving record in your home country is an important piece of information. It will indicate whether you have any issues in your driving history such as a DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs), or unpaid tickets/citations.

Your prior driving record is the best indicator you have of the type of driver you are. It will heavily influence your cost of insurance based on the amount of risk the insurance company takes on by insuring you.

Acquiring a US Driver's License

While not a requirement, some international students choose to get a US driver's license. The following documents may be necessary in order to do so.

Document #1 Passport and Visa

A passport from your home country will serve to prove your identity. The visa shows that you have entered the country legally, and proves that your visa status is one that entitles you to apply for a US driver's license.

Document #2 EAD Card

EAD (Employment Authorization Document) is commonly known in the US as a work permit. It provides you with temporary authorization to work in the US and is issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. EAD Card is required for applying for a US driver’s license during your OPT period but not before your graduation.

Document #3 Social Security Card

Students on an F-1 or J-1 visa and are employed in the US must apply for a social security number. The number is used by the US government to track your earnings for the purposes of paying taxes.

You can decline to process a social security number application and instead file an SSA form. The form required is called SSA-L676.

Document #4Form I-94

Form I-94 is issued by the US Customs and Border Protection. It's an arrival and departure record and can be used to affirm legal visitor status.

Document #5 Form I-20 or Form DS-2019

Form I-20 is the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status (F-1 status). Schools certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program can issue it. The form is used to support your status as an international student.

Form DS-2019 is the Certificat of Eligibility. It allows someone from a foreign country to put in an application for an interview at the US embassy so that they can get a J-1 visa.

Document #6 Form I-797

This form serves as a communication between petitioners or applicants regarding any potential immigration benefits. The form serves as proof that you received an immigration benefit.

It is not a form that you fill out yourself. It is issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

It's important to note that different states will likely require different documents for international students to get a US driver's license. It's always a good idea to contact your state's DMV office for more information.


Your Premium

Your premium is the amount you pay monthly, annually, or semi-annually to maintain your insurance coverage. It's the cost of your insurance. For international students, it can often be higher than what US citizens pay.

As an international student, how do you find the best auto insurance plan for you and your beloved car while saving some money in the meantime?

That’s what SafeButler is here for. By using our free comparison tool, you can quickly and easily compare auto insurance rates from different companies. You'll see which discounts you're eligible for and can easily find the best premium by comparing all of the auto insurance companies in the US.

Obtaining Auto Insurance for International Students

If you are a foreign student, you can use your driver's license from your home country to obtain an International Driver's Permit in order to buy insurance. Make sure you submit all of the right documents and try to shop around a bit to get the best price.

If you'd like to learn more about auto insurance for international students, check out our auto insurance guide.

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