UK resident wants to buy a used RV for long holiday

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Tim Amphlett

New member
Feb 16, 2013

I'm a British citizen, this summer my wife and I are planning to visit USA and Canada for 4 months.  We're flying into LA on May 29th and flying out of New York on September 25th (return flight date can be moved if necessary).  We want to buy a used RV in California to tour in and then sell it before leaving in New York (or nearby).  We're happy to sell with a big loss (if necessary) since this will still be cheaper than renting.

I'd like to ask:  How do I purchase and register a used RV as a foreigner in California? 

I've seen many RV's on in my price bracket, many are from private sellers some from dealerships.  How do I get an address in the US, how do I register the vehicle and get the tags?  I'm happy to pay sales tax in California, I just want to know the simplest method regardless of taxes.  I've found some advice on this website but it appears to be from the 90's and I understand many laws have changed post 9/11.  Any advice would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Tim Amphlett
Hi Tim and welcome to The RV Forum

We have an article in our library: Guide for buying an RV in the USA written just a couple of years ago.

If you buy used from a dealer, they'll usually handle all the DMV paperwork for you, collect the sales tax, and will put a temporary registration in the windshield until the tags arrive. If you buy privately, the seller will sign the "pink slip' - the title document,  a single sheet of paper - equivalent to the UK log book, releasing their ownership. You then go to any DMV office in Calfornia, give them the pink slip, fill out some paperwork, and pay the sales tax. They'll give you the temporary registration and the tags to attach to the rear licence plate. When buying privately, some folks ask the buyer to come to the DMV with them, and they exchange payment and pink slip there. I suppose this would avoid a possible forged pink slip.

An issue is that the new pink slip and, in the case of buying from a dealer, the tags, don't arrive in the mail until several weeks later. So you'll need an address with a mail forwarding feature that allows you to tell them where to send your mail (e.g to some campground down the road). There are numerous options for a mail forwarding address discussed on our forum, and a search should find them (use the Search button in the toolbar above, not the one in the top right of the page).
In my opinion I think you better be prepared to spend at least one of the four months here dealing with buying and selling the RV. Neither one is an easy task. I think you would be much better off buying in Phoenix and selling in Florida. Or leaving it at PPL motors in Houston. They are the largest consignment dealer in the US. If you did go from LA to NY it would probably pay you time wise and money wise to drive to Houston after NYC.
With all that involved, you might want to look at renting from a national chain that will allow you to pick up and drop at opposite ends of the country.
Buying in California will require you paying a lot of dollars in sales tax.  Buy it at PPL would be far better choice.
Aye, you're right donn, but Tim said he's happy to pay California sales tax.
Just curious if Tim found the answers and the linked information helpful  ???
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