Can international students lease a car in the USA?
Yes, but the process is a bit complicated. As an international student, you're going to need several key pieces of information including a drivers license and a valid passport. You'll also need proof that you're a college student (a U.S. school enrollment letter is usually sufficient).
Having a car makes life easier and allows students to see many of the beautiful sites North America has to offer. However, if you're driving around illegally or in an insured vehicle, your time in the US may be cut short.
This article will give you some tips for what you need to do to lease a car with an F1 Visa.
Should international students get a car lease or a rental car?
That depends on your situation. Some colleges in the United States are located in urban areas. If you can do pretty much everything you need to do without a car, a car lease might be more of a financial commitment than what you need.
If you can walk or use public transportation to get to most places that you need to go, it probably makes the most sense to just get a rental car instead of leasing a vehicle. If you're in the US on a student visa, a car rental is the easiest way to have access to a motor vehicle when you need one.
Pros of Renting a Car on a F1 Visa
- Short term commitment
- Easy auto insurance options
Cons of Renting a Car on an F1 Visa
- Can be expensive
- You still need transportation to get to the rental car location
However, if you are attending a university located in a remote area (like rural North Carolina or upstate New York), car leasing might be your best option.
There may be times when you need groceries, medical services or you just want to take a road trip to another destination in the United States. In these instances, having a new car on hand can be a huge help.
When you lease a vehicle, you are basically renting that car for a longer period of time. The car isn't really yours, but you get to keep it in your possession until the terms of the lease agreement are up (usually 1-3 years, depending on the lease term).
The best part about leasing is that you often get to choose a new vehicle from the dealership (though in many cases you can lease a pre owned motor vehicle as well). New cars mean less headaches and problems.
Car ownership tends to be more expensive in the long run than a short term lease, but in both instances the car will need to be insured by a reputable insurance company in order to be registered in the US. Do not drive a car without insurance.
Pros of Leasing a Car as an International Student
- You always have a car when you need it
- You can choose from new inventory or pre owned inventory
- Some dealerships have special offers or service specials for customers who lease
- Leased vehicles often have a warranty
Cons of Leasing a Car as an International Student
- Monthly payment
- You'll need car insurance
- You'll also need an International Driving Permit
- Credit history is often required
- When your lease is up, you have to return the car
So can international students lease a car in USA? Yes, but before jumping into the commitment that comes with leasing motor vehicles, you should explore all of your options. Leasing a car is a big commitment.
I'm a Foreign Student and I want to lease a car in the USA. Where do I start?
There are several well-known car companies that offer options specifically for foreign students. Here are a few options that you can explore:
Audi offers new and certified pre-owned vehicles with financing and leasing options available.
The student applying must be enrolled in an accredited 2 or 4 year program, provide a copy of their I-20 form, social security number, bank statements and more.
Three references are also required, so be sure to make some good friends before you apply ;)
Many Volvo dealerships have gone out of the way to make the leasing process easier for international students.
The student applying will need a driver's license, US school enrollment letter, and a valid passport to apply. A U.S. credit history is not required.
As an added bonus, Volvo includes maintenance and insurance for the student...no dealing with insurance companies, Volvo takes care of all the details.
There are other providers out there who try to simplify car leasing for international students. Services like International AutoSource (IAS) offers 1-3 year leases or 3-5 auto loan financing for auto purchases.
A Recap: Car Lease Tips for International Students in the USA
First, figure out if a car rental, car lease or car purchase is the best decision for you.
Then, check to be sure you have all the necessary paperwork and information to apply. Don't be afraid to ask someone who works at your college or university about car options for international students.
If you have a real need and you can afford to lease a car, work with a car dealership or company that has a program specifically for you.
Still figuring out where you want to attend university?
We can help you find the perfect student accommodation.