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RVing message boards => Visitors to the USA => Topic started by: DENBOY on April 03, 2011, 02:30:45 PM

Post by: DENBOY on April 03, 2011, 02:30:45 PM
Ok, my name is Dennis and I have camped all over europe in a 24 foot c class but long to spend an extended period in the USA. My plan is to buy an rv in the states tour for 6 to 12 months and then sell or store the rv for future trips. My questions are what tax's on top of say an ebay purchace would I have to pay, would I need to take an American driving test, how friendly are you all to wild camping, what is a ball park amount for road tax and insurance. I plan to purchace a 25 to 30 foot a class for around 20,000 dollars. Any info or input would be great also anyone who has done the same and has any words of wisdom.

                           Thanks Dennis
Post by: Gary RV_Wizard on April 03, 2011, 02:55:20 PM
Welcome to the RV Forum, Dennis. We have quite a few UK members, so you should feel right at home here.

Private vehicles do not pay a road tax here, so that's one plus.  Our taxes and vehicle fees vary by state rather than being uniform across the nation. When you buy a vehicle there is a one time sales & use tax that applies, but the rate and exact terms depend on the state in which the sale occurs and/or the vehicle title is registered. A few states have no sales tax at all, while others have quite steep ones and may also charge additional yearly taxes based on value. Typically the tax will be about 5-7% of the purchase price.

Some states will accept an International Driver License for the purposes of vehicle ownership, while others may not (it is always valid to drive, though). I'll leave the driver license question to those who know more about it.

Insurance varies depending on the insured value of the RV, as well as the base location defined in the policy. Rates are fixed based on that location, even though you may rarely be in that one place. I would say a typical recent model motorhome would cost anywhere from $600-$1500 yearly to insure, depending on its value and the home base designated. Rural areas generally have far lower insurance rates than large cities, so it pays to carefully select your base address for vehicle ownership purposes. No, you cannot just pick the cheapest place in the USA - you need to have some legitimate presence in the place you choose. Could be just a storage area where it sits when not in use, though. The rules were made before people started living full time in RVs, so they don't always make sense, but they still are applied.
Post by: DENBOY on April 03, 2011, 03:27:15 PM
Thanks for the prompt reply Gary, so do I need an address of some sort to buy regester and insure an rv in whichever state I purchace. and where can I get a idea of which state to buy in to save purchace tax as its unimportant to me where I fly into.

                         Thanks Dennis   
Post by: Tom on April 03, 2011, 03:31:24 PM
Some clarification of terminology is in order. The UK "road tax" is analogous to our vehicle registration fee and, yes, we do pay it on cars and RVs. But, as Gary says, the amount varies by state. You'll only need to register in one state.

Sales/use tax would be our equivalent of your VAT (but not as high) and would vary by state, with some states having no sales/use tax.

You won't need to take a driving test. By all means, bring an international driving permit along with your UK driving license. Some states, such as California, specifically don't recognize the international driving permit, but your UK license will be recognized as a legitimate license for driving purposes, provided you don't set up residency in any state (which you don't plan to do).

I'd urge you to read some of the articles in our forum library. Click the Library button above and go to the Visitors to the USA section. There's some good reading on purchasing an RV and how to deal with some of the associated things. There are also some relevant discussions in our Visitors to the USA message board here (

EDIT: I moved this discussion here, as there are numerous other relevant discussions on the same and similar topics.
Post by: Gary RV_Wizard on April 03, 2011, 03:55:03 PM
When you title and register a vehicle, you have to give some address where you can be contacted, which would typically be your US residence. I don't think most states would accept a UK address, so you need to make some arrangements here. I'll leave the where and how to another thread - lot's of discussion for that point alone.

Popular states for  RVers to use as a "home base' are Florida, Texas, Montana and South Dakota. Some of them for tax reasons, others because they are more flexible for fulltime RVers. Bad choices are California, New york, Massachusetts, North Carolina and probably a few more that escape me right now. All have very high taxes/fees and may also have other strict requirements, so best avoided.
Post by: Tom on April 03, 2011, 04:00:51 PM
how friendly are you all to wild camping

The equivalent term here is 'boondocking'. There are numerous places to legally and safely boondock, but most local ordinances will prohibit camping on the street. Also, there will be places where it's just plain not safe to boondock. A search on 'boondocking' will turn up lots of prior discussions, but be prepared for differences in opinions and philosophy on the subject.
Post by: Gary RV_Wizard on April 03, 2011, 04:03:29 PM
You asked about "wild camping", and the answer there is mixed. It is not very practical in the eastern US because the land is more crowded and there are relatively few places that allow it. In the more wide open western USA, there are more opportunities, but still may be restricted. Many national parks and national forests designate areas where "primitive' camping is permitted.

A form of wild camping is to make a brief overnight stay at a large store or restaurant parking lot. Some large retail store chains, e.g Walmart and Cabela's, encourage this (they get business from Rvers) wherever local laws do not prohibit it. It's not "camping" in the recreational sense, but it provides a free spot to stay overnight when traveling form one place to another.
Post by: Tom on April 03, 2011, 09:12:31 PM
BTW don't expect the equivalent of the Aires system for overnight stays. That kind of system doesn't exist in the US, although there are a few (small) local attempts. Whenever I've brought it up here, it's usually fallen on deaf years.
Post by: Tom on April 04, 2011, 05:15:06 AM
I was thinking about the issue of a physical/mailing address. Whenever it comes up in these discussions, there's usually an assumption that a physical/mailing address in the US is required. When I bought my first car in California, I was a UK resident and living in a motel here, driving on a UK driving license. It's too long ago to recall if I gave them my UK address, the address of the motel, or a forwarding address, but I moved from the motel a few days later.

If you visit a DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles, equivalent to DVLA) office in person in California, they'll give you the paperwork you need to go on your way, including a temporary registration and any stickers needed for the vehicle. They'll also collect any sales tax and registration fees. But the title document (equivalent to what used be called the "log book" in the UK) follows 4-6 weeks later. So, DMV would need a valid mailing address to be able to send the final registration and title documents to you. That could be a PO box with a mail forwarding service.

I don't know if this is universal, but several friends and acquaintances who have registered vehicles in other states gave the address of their respective mail forwarding service rather than their physical addresses. Some of the prior discussions here may tell you what other Brits have done for an address when registering a vehicle in the US.