Can I drive in the US with a full UK license?

Can I drive in the US with a full UK license?

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People with UK driver’s licenses are able to rent vehicles to drive in the US, due to an agreement between US and UK officials. The age restrictions for renting a car will depend on the company and some will allow you to hire a car at the age of 21 but many of the main hire companies have a minimum age of 25.
The good news is that yes, you are able to drive in the US with a full UK license and do not require a US license unless you are moving there. However, there are a number of different factors to consider if you are planning on driving in the US, especially if you are thinking about hiring a car.
Legally, a UK license is accepted to allow you to drive in the US. You should also be aware that there are different driving laws across different States in the US. Wherever it is that you are planning on visiting in the US, you should check the local driving laws to see if they are different to where you usually drive. To start with, driving in the US is on the right-hand side of the road, so if you are used to driving in the UK that will be one major difference!

The correct driving license

There is reciprocity agreement between the USA and Canada, Germany, France and other countries when it comes to driving licences. But, unfortunately there is no reciprocity agreement when it comes to the UK driving licence in the USA. If you are a new driver, in a new state of residence, you have to apply for a uk licence. The process involves an application, theoretical test and practical test, and also a proof of residence and visa. The driving license will be valid in all states of the USA. But beware that the laws are different in the states of the USA, and drive legally, with responsibility, respecting the speed limits, stay on marked roads, be aware of special weather and road conditions, follow parking rules, etc.
If you have intentions to drive in the USA in a short term, you will need a full UK driving licence or an International Driving Permit (IDP). In case you have an old-style paper driving licence, a passport, and an IDP will be another forms of photographic ID. The UK driving licence in USA is usable, but on short term. With thisinformation, you can start to prepare to drive safely your road trip around the USA.

What rules and regulation does the USA has for driving

US driving rules vary from state to state in the country. Each state in the America has its own rules and regulations. Most traffic regulations are similar to other countries, but some road signs and traffic lights may differ. Drivers are encouraged to understand the traffic regulations of the state in which they are driving.
Eventhough, the driving regulations between the UK and the USA have some differences, from driving abroad for the most drivers, or for the UK drivers, is very essential to take care of the oncoming traffic in every country, traffic lights and no drink driving! As we mentioned before, the laws can change between every country. But these general driving rules, laws and regulations may be the top tips for your driving in the USA.
  • Vehicles in the USA drive on the right side of the road.
  • Overtake others on the left side of the road.
  • All vehicle drivers must wear seat belts.
  • Turning right at a red light is permitted, but unless otherwise stated, it is only permitted after a stop.
  • The use of mobile phones while driving is prohibited except for the hands-free kit.
  • Always use a turn signal when turning right or left.
  • Radar detectors are illegal in some states.
  • All vehicles must give way to emergency vehicles, police, ambulance, firetrucks.
  • The driver must carry a valid driver's license, registration documents, and insurance documents every time when driving.
  • If you are stopped by the police, pull over safely to the side of the road, turn the car off, roll down your window and do not exit the vehicle.

Things to consider

Driving in the United States is not mandatory, but you must have comprehensive health insurance. If any traffic accident occurs, proper health insurance is essential to avoid unnecessary administrative work and high treatment costs. It is also widely recommended by the international drivers that any driver in the USA must have a valid driver's license. You should always carry all your travel insurance in your car, along with your driver's license, proof of residence/visa, and IDP.
If you are thinking of shipping your car or several cars to the United States, due to restrictions on vehicle imports into the United States, bureaucratic hurdles need to be cleared. You must comply with the requirements and standards of Customs and Border Protection, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Ministry of Transport. For many, buying a new car in the United States is easy and cheap. However, if you are considering shipping your car, we recommend that you use the services of a qualified and experienced moving service for cars who understands the appropriate protocols and logistics.
Each driver is required to pay the appropriate fine in accordance with national law. If you do not comply, your vehicle registration will not be extended.

Car hire companies

It is important to note that some car hire companies will require that you have an International Drivers Permit before they will let you hire a car from them. Whilst it is not considered to be compulsory for driving in the US, the stance on requiring IDP varies between the hire companies.
An IDP is available to apply for from post offices in the UK and costs £5.50. If you have time to apply for one, then it will make hiring a car much easier.
One of the other factors to consider is the type of insurance that you get with your car hire company. Not all companies will provide full insurance as some States do not require third party insurance, or Supplementary Liability Insurance as it is referred as in the US.
It is worth shopping around a bit to see what the best car hire deals are, taking into account all of the other factors such as whether there is any excess payments for younger drivers, or what the fuel policy includes, as some companies will charge considerably more for fuel consumption compared to what you would pay if you filled it up yourself at a fuel station.
There are different rules regarding the ages of drivers that car hire companies will accept. Some companies will allow drivers of 18 years and over, whilst many insist that drivers are at least 21 years old. Previously, it was very common for car hire companies to only allow foreign drivers aged 25 and over to hire vehicles in the US.
If you are flying into the US with ESTA then the best place to pick up a hire car will be at the airport, althoughthis won’t necessarily be the cheapest place to hire a vehicle. By arranging your car hire as early as possible, you should be able to get the best deals and this will also give you more time to check the different requirements and the insurance details of each company that you look at using.

Written by Abisola Fikayomi

Abisola is an accomplished writer interested in US Travel, immigration, passports and visas. She’s passionate about exploring new places and cultures and willing to share her experiences, expertize and findings with others. That is her primary drive for specialising in this industry.



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