I travel a lot to the United States (Florida). I would like to have my own car registered in the country instead of renting all the time. In long-term this will be cheaper and more comfortable.

I need a "real property" address to register the car and insurance from what I have been told.

So my question: Can I buy a cheap $ 500 lot somewhere in Florida (with mapped house number), put a large mail box there and start my car registration?

The mail box will be emptied all 2-3 months and will be large enough to hold all letters.

I'll also arrange someone who will mow the lot.

Is there any legal need of a building on the property to register the car?

  • 1
    It might be easier and more effective to form a corporation under Florida law that would own the car, and have a mail drop address and corporate registered agent in Florida, which it would keep in a rented parking space. Even if you don't reside in Florida, the corporation would and the corporation would authorize you to use the car.
    – ohwilleke
    Mar 16 '18 at 18:26
  • ohwilleke: Thanks for the information. The LLC or Limited will require local tax fillings in my home country as well. I have to do the accounting in the USA and in my home country (2 accountants) plus the agent fee for the address. I think this will offset my savings. Currently I have around $ 5000 in rental costs. With a lot from a tax deed sale and Geico insurance for the car, I'd be able to save around $ 3500 per year. Too bad it's not legal as you can read in the answer from A.fm. Mar 16 '18 at 19:08
  • That's the thing about great ideas that don't work. They're often really cost effective, but on a cost-benefit basis, not so much. A C corporation shouldn't require a tax filing in your home country and should have a very inexpensive tax return to file because it will be all zeros on the income side every year.
    – ohwilleke
    Mar 17 '18 at 1:45

This varies by jurisdiction perhaps and I can't speak directly to Florida (unless you have a link to the law), but usually the rules in this area have to do with your "domicile." The same often goes for insurance, which is required to drive. Insurance rates are determined in no small part by your address and registering for insurance with a fake address is likely not legal. Typically, your "domicile" is defined as where you most often spend the night and/or the location where you intend to live.

  • 1
    It is also worth noting that residency or domicile do not require ownership of real property. Probably half of people with registered vehicles rent rather than own their homes and own no other real estate.
    – ohwilleke
    Mar 16 '18 at 18:23
  • 1
    The insurance (Geico) told me I have a foreign policy and they just require an address for the documents (no PO box). Is there any state where I could do the registration legally on the lot? What would happen in the worst case from the government's side when I just do it? Mar 16 '18 at 19:03
  • @user3606329 I'm not sure this answer is correct. As far as I know, people domiciled at one US address can register and insure their cars at another address (for example, a vacation home or weekend house in the country) if the car actually remains there most of the time. I doubt that would be less true for people domiciled outside the US.
    – phoog
    Mar 17 '18 at 19:18
  • Oh, it's correct. There may be exceptions for legitimate second homes, second vehicles, etc., and those would vary by insurance company. OP did not ask about that - rather, OP asked about surreptitiously buying a vacant lot, installing a mailbox, and registering there. That's what we call "rate evasion" and often "insurance fraud." People, of course, get away with that often, but their tactic is often to register at a relative's address or something similar. Never heard of a vacant lot. Also, when time to file a claim, even if registered at a relative's house, the company will deny your claim.
    – A.fm.
    Mar 17 '18 at 19:32
  • @user3606329, I'd not do anything secretly to try and outsmart the insurance company, as they have a huge interest in protecting against fraud and it simply is too risky to go that route. Part of the issue is their practice called territorial rating, often referred to as insurance redlining as a pejorative (and I'd agree that the practice is discriminatory and should be fixed), where the cost of the policy is partially (although heavily weighted) determined by where the policyholder lives.
    – A.fm.
    Mar 17 '18 at 19:34

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