Skip header content and main navigation Binghamton University, State University of New York - Isss
 

banner

Getting Around: Guidelines for Owning a Car
in the United States

For many students owning a car brings many advantages. There are also significant responsibilities and obligations. As an international student you need to be sure you learn about the US federal laws and the state laws that govern driving, and owning a car before you start driving on the road.

You also need to consider all the costs associated with owning a motor vehicle (car purchase, maintenance and repair, fuel costs, parking passes, auto insurance and New York State Department of Motor Vehicle fees). You will also want to find a good auto shop to service your motor vehicle, and plan for what you will do if you car breaks down when you are away from home.

These are some of the things to consider as you plan a car purchase. We hope you find the information in this booklet useful.


Topics You Need to Learn About:

NYS Laws Governing Owning a Car
Buying A New or Used Car - Which choice is best for you?
Renting or Leasing a Car
List of Major Car Rental Companies
Leasing a Car
After I Buy (or Lease) a Car- What Do I Need to Do Next
Arranging for Auto Insurance: A Legal Requirement When You Own A Car
Documents you need to Purchase Auto Insurance
Information About Insurance Companies
What Type of Auto Insurance Coverage Do I Have to Buy?
Helpful Tips for NYC Motorists
Register Your Car with the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles
Identity Papers to Use for any NYS DMV Application
Dealing With Car Repairs
What You Need to Do If You Have an Accident
Avoid Trouble with the Police - NYS Traffic Laws You Must Obey!
Web Pages You May Find Helpful
Directions to the NYS DMV offices in Broome County

NYS Laws Governing Owning a Car?
New York State has an excellent website that explains the driving laws governing persons living in New York State. Here is the web link for the New York State Department of Motor Vehicle (NYS DMV): http://www.dmv.ny.gov/license.htm
There are laws that protect persons in New York State when they buy a new or used car. You can learn all about these laws on the web site for the NYS Attorney General. Here is the web link for the NYS Attorney General: http://www.ag.ny.gov/find-attorney

Buying A New or Used Car? Which choice is best for you?
Although a new car will most likely give you fewer problems than a used one, it will also prove to be far more expensive. If you buy a new car and sell it 12 months later, you can expect to face a rather substantial financial loss. It is generally not recommended that you buy a new car if you will be in the United States a relatively short time. Also, there will be a major loss in a car's financial value as soon as you drive the car off the dealer's lot.

Buying a Used Car - Research is the first step

While there is always some risk in buying a used car, its value decreases far less than that of a new car over the same period. However, if you are fortunate to find a good one, you will have dependable transportation.

Review the latest auto issues of Consumer Reports (usually published in April). You will find the magazine in the periodical section of the public library. In this issue you will find a section on "Good Bets in Used Cars" which not only includes a list of better used car buys (listed by price range and size), but also a list of models to avoid. You can also access some of the information online at: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/index.htm?EXTKEY=SP67CR0&source=DG

First you need to consider your personal budget. Do you have enough money to pay for the car, maintain the car, purchase the required auto insurance? Begin to look for a car in the price range you can afford. You have two options: first, to buy directly from an individual owner (ads can be found daily in the local newspaper, Press & Sun Bulletin); you can also find car ads for your zip code at online E-Auto retailers, such as http://www.cars.com) or, buy from an established automobile dealer.

Although you may save money buying directly from the owner, we would suggest that you consider purchasing your car from a reputable dealer who will give you a full guarantee on the car. Thus, if anything goes wrong, the dealer may repair it potentially at a minimal cost to you.

Several Additional Suggestions

Renting or Leasing a Car
Renting a Car

Another choice to consider is renting a car for the specific period you plan to travel. While this will not allow you to have a car available at all times, it will provide you with transportation when you need it and may cost far less in the long run. Cars may be rented by the day, week, or month from companies that are listed in the yellow telephone pages under "Automobile Rental and Leasing."

In order to rent a car as a foreign visitor you will:

Prices vary considerably depending on the dealer, the size of the car, and whether the car is new or used. Remember the cost of gas (after the first tank of gas is used up) is your responsibility. Also, there is usually an additional charge for mileage you drive.
If you have a US driver's license, it is very convenient to arrange a rental car by phone or online by going to the company's website. You will have to choose a pick-up location.

Most companies have offices in the main cities of a region and at large airports as well. (Several rental car companies are located around the Greater Binghamton area and at the Greater Binghamton Airport. You can check the Broome County Phone Book, or the company's website to learn a company's location.)

Rates for airport pick-up of a rental car tend to be lower. Some companies will offer a free service to pick you up from your location (Enterprise, for example), but, generally, the free pick up service is not available from car rental offices located at an airport.

Most companies also participate in "one-way" rentals in which a vehicle can be rented in one city and returned to the company's office in a different city. Some one-way rentals are assessed a one-time drop charge or mileage charge in addition to the rental rate.

Listing of Major Car Rental Companies

Company Requirements Phone Number
AVIS
  • Home Country Driver's License and International Driving Permit or US state driver's license
  • US credit card 
  • Driver's age 18-25 will be charged an underage surcharge fee
  • Additional driver must be 25 yrs
  • Additional driver pay a 2nd  driver's fee of $3
  • No rental to driver with Learner's Permit only
(607) 729-6001 2534 Airport Rd, Johnson City, NY 13790  
BUDGET
  • Home Country Driver's License and International Driving Permit or US state driver's license
  • US credit card only
  • Driver's age 18-25 will be charged an underage surcharge fee
  • Additional driver must be 25 yrs
  • Additional driver pay a 2 nd driver's fee
  • No rental to driver with Learner's Permit only
(607) 798-8361   2534 Airport Rd, Johnson City, NY 13790  
ENTERPRISE
  • Free pick-up at your home, or repair shop
  • Home Country Driver's License and International Driving Permit or US state driver's license
  • US credit card , international credit card allowed, If debit card call the branch( 607-797-0900)
  • Driver's age 18-25 will be charged an underage surcharge fee
  • Additional driver must be 25 yrs If between 21-24yrs will be charged $23.50 per day
  • Additional driver pay a 2nd  driver's fee of $3
  • No rental to driver with Learner's Permit only
(607) 797-0900     3217 Stewart Rd, Vestal, NY 13850  
HERTZ
  • "Connect by Hertz" program available at Binghamton University. See program description.
  • Reserve online or call our Member Care Center. $3.50 fee for reservations made by call.
  • 18 years of age, valid driver’s license, clean driving record and proof of your address.
  • Connect card acts as your personal key to the car
  • Accepts debit cards or check cards issued under a VISA or Mastercard  logo
  • Fuel is free. Use fuel card in the car
  • pay a $250 deductible if the car is damaged
  • Drivers 18-20 -  age differential charge of $7 per hour if not affiliated to college or corporate account
(607) 729-2406   2520 Vestal Pkwy E, Vestal, NY 13850  

"Connect by Hertz" Now “Hertz on Demand! Available at Binghamton University
Hertz On Demand™! (see web link above)

 Thank you for taking the ride as a Connect by Hertz member. Now, we're ready to take you on a new journey as we introduce Hertz On Demand – our brand to succeed Connect By Hertz. With Hertz On Demand, you'll continue to enjoy cars for your every need - with no hassles:

Hertz On Demand couldn't be simpler. It's the luxury of having a car, without the hassles of owning one. And with zero membership fees, you only pay for the car when you use it, so you can hit the road with savings.
Did you know?
Every Hertz On Demand vehicle takes 14 personal cars off the road. Reduce your carbon footprint today.

Stay tuned as we build Hertz On Demand around the country, and thank you for choosing Hertz!

Leasing a Car
One final option is to lease a car for one or two years. You will need to have an international driver's license or a NYS driver's license. Check with the car dealer to learn what they require.
The cost of leasing will vary depending on:

Most leases will run for a minimum period of two years.

Leasing a car is not necessarily the best choice. When you compare the costs of purchasing a car to leasing a car it may appear that leasing will cost you less money. However, those costs may not be realized if the company leasing you the car insists on greater auto insurance coverage than you wish to purchase if you were buying the car.

When you lease a new car, you generally receive a new car guarantee covering major parts and labor. Accident (liability) insurance is not usually included in this fee. You will need to check with the car dealer, about the level of auto insurance coverage.

Please note: since you are not a permanent resident of the United States, you may be asked to pay all or part of the leasing fee in advance.

After you Buy a Car - What You Need to Do Next:
The following directions apply when you purchase a Used Car for Cash (Not with a Loan):
Obtain a Car Title Certificate

When you purchase a vehicle, make sure to obtain proof of ownership, the Title of Ownership. The person from whom you purchased the car should be able to give you the Title at the time you finalize the purchase.

If you purchase a used car from an automobile dealer, they have to provide you with the Title, the proof of ownership. Most NYS automobile dealers send the application for your state vehicle registration and title certificate to the DMV (they may charge a fee for this service).

If you purchase a used car from an individual, the proof of ownership is the Title Certificate that the previous owner has to sign in order to transfer the ownership to you.

Arranging for Auto Insurance : A Legal Requirement When You Own a Car
The owner of a motor vehicle registered in New York State (NYS) must purchase auto insurance coverage for the motor vehicle before you can drive the vehicle. You must also register the vehicle with NYS DMV before you can drive the vehicle.

This law applies to both US citizens, and citizens of other countries. When you purchase a motor vehicle, the previous owner of the vehicle cannot transfer their auto insurance policy to you. You need to purchase auto insurance for the vehicle yourself.

The level of auto insurance coverage you purchase must include at least liability insurance. All motor vehicles regardless of type (motorcycle, car, truck, van) must be insured. Liability insurance is used for accident-related payments to someone other than yourself. Auto insurance can be costly. All drivers of the motor vehicle must be listed on the auto insurance policy, even if the driver is not a frequent driver of that vehicle.

Certain categories of drivers are required to have auto insurance that costs more than auto insurance for other drivers:

Be sure you are dealing with a reputable insurance company. To check on an insurance company's reputation check the information on the insurance company in the latest Annual Report of the NYS Consumer Protection Board related to auto insurance. Here is the website where you can download the reports: http://www.ins.state.ny.us/puborder.htm
Questions to ask the insurance agent before you buy auto insurance:

Documents You Need to Purchase Auto Insurance:
In order to purchase an auto insurance policy, insurance companies require that you present the following:

Information About Insurance Companies
The chart below gives examples of the documents and other information required by different auto insurance companies. You will find the same insurance coverage will cost different amounts of money at different companies. Do your research - be sure to check on the company's reputation for service after an auto accident. Inclusion in this chart is not a recommendation from the ISSS of any of these companies. The purpose of this chart is simply to give you information. It is your choice to make. You will also find the contact information of several independent insurance agents listed in the Yellow Pages of the Broome County Phone Book.

COMPANY REQUIREMENTS PHONE NUMBER
21st Century
Insurance
  • VIN # from the motor vehicle
  • SSN may be required
1-877-310-5687
ALLSTATE
  • US driver's license
  • Either SSN OR New York state ID are required
1-866-993-8100
AMICA
  • International driver's license may be accepted (proof of driving record required)
  • SSN is preferred, but this requirement may be waived
1-800-242-6422
GEICO
  • VIN# or car registration
  • US Driver's license
  • No SSN is needed
  • Geico does not insure vehicles in the states of Massachusetts, and New Jersey
1-800-861-8380
PROGRESSIVE
  • US Driver's license
  • No SSN is needed
1-800-776-4737
STATE FARM
  • US Driver's license
  • Vehicle title or registration
  • SSN is required

1-877-601-0967

 

What Type of Auto Insurance Coverage Do I Have To Buy?
REQUIRED Auto Insurance Coverage - NYS DMV Regulations (Law)

this is the auto insurance coverage you must purchase:

OPTIONAL Insurance Coverage: You can choose to have this level of coverage for your protection but NYS law does not require this level of coverage:

NYS DMV will suspend (cancel) your registration if you have a lapse of insurance. NYS DMV may also suspend (cancel) your driver's license. Be very careful when you change insurance coverage.

For more information on insurance-related regulations, visit this weblink: http://www.dmv.ny.gov/dmvfaqs.htm#INSURANCE

When you are driving your vehicle, you are required to have information with you on your current auto insurance policy. It is highly recommended that you keep the auto insurance information cards provided by your current auto insurance company in the glove compartment of your motor vehicle.

Helpful Tips for NYS Motorists
New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) monitors the way liability insurance coverage is verified in order to reduce or prevent uninsured operation of a motor vehicle.

Anytime a vehicle is added, changed, or removed from a policy, or when issuing or canceling a policy, insurance companies are required to electronically transmit those changes to DMV.

Register Your Car with the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles 
In order to register your car with NYS, you need to visit the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) where a representative will examine your application and documents.

The address of the NYS DMV office is: 181 Clinton St. Binghamton, NY. You can check on office hours for either office by calling: 607-778-2337. Also check this web site: http://www.dmv.ny.gov/athrud.htm

Documents You Need to bring to the NYS DMV office:

The Department of Motor Vehicles will:

Identity Papers to Use for any NYS DMV Application 
** Original Documents Only - Photocopies Are Not Acceptable **

Important: Any document submitted for proof of identification must be a current and valid document. The document cannot be an expired document. The NYS DMV has the authority to verify that your documents are authentic. For most applications you will need to show 6 "points" of identity.

Social Security Number: If you are not eligible for a Social Security number, you can obtain an official letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA). This "Letter of Ineligibility" is specific to NYS DMV applications and must be submitted to the NYS DMV within 30 days of issuance by the SSA. Directions to the SSA office in downtown Binghamton are attached to this handout.


Acceptable documents for 
Proof of Identity.
 
(Expired documents are not
 
accepted unless indicated)
Point value 
of document
Is this document accepted as Proof of Date of Birth? Other 
Requirements?
foreign passport with your visa and form I-94 with status code J1 or J2 and with form DS-2019. If you received an extension, you must show your original entry document, form DS-2019, your extension DS-2019 and, if appropriate, a "notice of approval from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 3 Yes The DS-2019 must have been issued by BU for aperiod of at least one year and must be valid for at least six more months when presented to the DMV.
A foreign passport with your visa and form I-94 with status code F1 or F2 and form I-20. To be accepted, the school must be located in NYS. If you received an extension, you must show your original entry document, form I-20, your extension I-20 and, if appropriate, a "notice of approval issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 3 Yes The I-20 must have beenissued for a period of at least one year and must be valid for at least six more months when presented to the DMV.
US college photo ID card and an academic transcript. 2 No None
A supermarket check-cashing card issued in the US with your name pre-printed and your signature. 1 No None
health insurance card or a medical prescription card issued in the US. 1 No None
utility bill issued in the US. 1 No None
You can provide only one of these items issued by a financial institution issued in the US: 
a bank statement 
a cancelled check
 (which displays your pre-printed name) 

an ATM card or a debit card (which displays your pre-printed name and your signature) 
a valid major US credit card
1 No None

You can also provide the following documents as proof of your identity:


Other Acceptable documents for 
Proof of Identity.
 
Point value 
of document
Is this document accepted as Proof of
Date of Birth?
Other Requirements?
US Social Security card that shows your signature. 2 No None
driver license, a learner permit, or a non-driver photo ID card issued by NYS. The photo document must be valid or expired for less than two years. 6 No None

DMV form MV-45 (Statement of Identity), if the applicant is under the age of 21. The form must be signed by a parent or a legal guardian, in front of a DMV representative. Proof of date of birth of applicant and Social Security Card are also required. See form MV-45 for instructions.

4 No None
US passport 4 Yes None
Certificate of Citizenship (N-560, N-561, or N-645). 3 Yes None
Certificate of Naturalization (N-550, N-570 or N-578). 3 Yes None
foreign passport with a valid I-551 stampor a statement on the visa. The passport must be in English or translated by an embassy. 3 Yes None
A Permanent Resident Card (form I-551) . 3 Yes None
US Employment Authorization Card (EAD for OPT)
(USCIS-I 797)
3 Yes The I-797 EAD card must have been issued by DHS for a period of at least one year and must be valid for at least six more months when presented to the DMV.
A NYS interim driver license or a computer-generated learner permit, without a photo. 2 No None
photo driver license issued by another state, jurisdiction or possession of the US, or issued by a province or territory of Canada. The driver license must be valid or expired less than one year. 2 No None
US high school ID card and a report card. 2 No None
computer-printed pay stub or employee ID card issued in the US that shows your name. 1 No None
high school diploma or GED (General Education Diploma) issued in the US. 1 No None
W-2 Form that shows your Social Security Number. 1 No None

Dealing with Car Repairs
All cars break down at some point, or a tire goes flat, the battery fails. Many US citizens arrange for roadside assistance either through the car dealer when they buy a car or with a private company like American Automobile Association (AAA). This is a very good idea, since University staff are not available to rescue students whose cars have broken down.

You can find out about roadside assistance service from your car dealer or from AAA. The website for AAA is http://www.aaa.com

You may also want to program the phone number for a car towing service in your cell phone. You can find the phone numbers for Auto Repair businesses or a car towing service in the yellow pages of the Broome County phone book.

What You Need to Do IF You Have an Accident
Unfortunately, driving a motor vehicle means you may some day have an accident. You will want to review the information at this web link: http://www.dmv.ny.gov/dmvfaqs.htm#accident so you know what you are legally required to do if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident. The laws apply to accidents in parking lots, BU campus, on roads or any highway.

You will be asked to provide proof of identity and proof of auto insurance coverage in the event of a motor vehicle accident.

Avoid Trouble With the Police - NYS Traffic Laws You Must Obey!
Alcohol Consumption:

Cell phone use:

Seat Belt Use:

If Stopped By the Police:

Web Pages You May Find Helpful
NYS DMV Internet Office 

Driver Licenses, Learner Permits, and Non-Driver Photo ID Cards

Registration Fees and Vehicle Use Taxes for Passenger Vehicles

NYS Attorney General 
Consumer Tips on Auto Issues
NYS Insurance Department

Consumer Reports
Car Reviews, Car Buying Guides

American Automobile Association
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Driving While Intoxicated
Cell Phone Law in NYS
Seat Belt Use
If Stopped by the Police

(Information included in this booklet is derived from a variety of sources: NYS DMV, NYS Attorney General, NYS Insurance Board, New York Central Mutual Insurance Company, Syracuse University Lillian and Emanuel Slutzker Center for International Services, SUNY Buffalo International Student Services, and NAFSA: Association of International Educators.)

Directions to the NYS DMV Offices in Broome County 
All persons in F or J visa status must go to the Clinton Street office of the NYS DMV. This is the only office presently equipped with the technology required to process applications where verification of a passport identity pages is necessary.

The Binghamton branch office of the NYS DMV is located at 181 Clinton Street. Clinton Street runs parallel to Main St. in Binghamton. Clinton Street is located between Water Street and Glenwood Avenue in Binghamton. (see attached map)

If you go to the Endicott or Broome County Office Building DMV offices, DMV staff will send you to the Clinton St. office.

You can check on office hours by calling 607-778-2337. Remember office hours may change so be sure to check for the hours during the week you plan to visit the DMV office.

The DMV Office is open on Saturday mornings. You can reach the offices by taking a cab or by BC Transit bus. (OCCT blue buses do not go directly to Clinton St.) You can review bus schedules on the internet at this link: http://www.gobroomecounty.com/transit/TransitRoutes.php Speak with the bus driver to learn about transferring between bus routes.

It is against the law to drive a motor vehicle that is not registered, or not covered by auto insurance to the NYS DMV office. The NYS DMV has the legal authority to seize your vehicle and impound it (keep it). You will be ticketed for a violation of the law and you may also be fined.

Connect with Binghamton:
Twitter icon links to Binghamton University's Twitter page YouTube icon links to Binghamton University's YouTube page Facebook icon links to Binghamton University's Facebook page Instagram

Last Updated: 4/23/13