Sell, Store, or Export your Vehicle

What to do when your visit wraps up

All good things must come to an end.

At the end of your visit, you should have a plan to either a) sell your vehicle, b) store it for future visits, c) rent it for income, or d) export it.

Selling your vehicle

If you want to sell your vehicle at the end of your visit, you have two options:
- Private party sale
- Dealer sale

Private Party Sale
You'll generally get the highest resale value for your vehicle by selling it to an individual, or a private party.

Unlike a dealer or auction house, a private party doesn't need to make a profit - he or she is buying the vehicle for personal use. Cutting out the middleman allows both the seller and the buyer to maximize value for themselves.

However, individual buyers are flaky and fickle. They might show up at the scheduled time, or they might not. They might seem strongly interested at first contact, only to see the vehicle and try to lowball you.

As a result, it can take up to a month and potentially many meetings with prospective individual buyers to find the right one.

If you have time and patience, you can find private party buyers by listing your vehicle for sale on Craigslist, Facebook, or with a for-sale sign in your vehicle's window.
Dealer Sale
If you don't have the time or patience to deal with individual buyers, you can sell your vehicle to a dealer.

Most used vehicle dealerships buy vehicles from individuals trading their vehicles in to buy a new one, or from individuals who just want to sell vehicle. The dealer will inspect your vehicle and give you an offer, usually within an hour. This offer will be good for a fixed period of time (7 days, for example) and a fixed mileage (100 miles more than current mileage, for example).

To accept the deal, you will need to provide the vehicle's title and keys to the dealer.

Because dealers need to make a profit, and because sometimes inspections miss issues with vehicles, a dealer's offer (the trade-in value, or the wholesale value) is usually lower than the value that an individual will pay.
Important Note: A dealer will issue payment for your vehicle via a check or domestic bank transfer (Automated Clearing House, or ACH).

Make sure that your home bank can accept a check made out to you, drafted from a US bank in US dollars, for deposit in your account.

If the dealer provides payment via ACH, you will need an American bank account. You can set one up quickly and easily with Wise, an international banking service whose foreign exchange fees are typically 3-4x cheaper than traditional bank fees.

How much should I expect for my car?
Knowing what price to expect for your vehicle can be a challenge, but a couple of resources can be quite helpful.
Kelly Blue Book
Kelly Blue Book is the most used guide for pricing private-party sales (sales to individuals). Answer a few simple questions about your vehicle's condition, and they'll generate a range of private party values and trade-in values.
NADA
The National Auto Dealers Association guide (NADA Guide) is the price guide that auto dealers use the most. Again, answer a few simple questions and the NADA Guide will generate a price report for your vehicle.
Carmax
Carmax is America's largest buyer of vehicles from the general public. Enter a few key pieces of information on their website, and in most cases, they will generate an offer online. Simply visit one of Carmax's 200+ locations and they'll buy your vehicle for the price offered online.

Final note: Retail Price
At the top of this section, we discussed your two options for selling your vehicle (private party, dealer). Each of these options has a slightly different price.

There is another price that you should be aware of: Retail Price.

If you bought your vehicle from an auto dealer, you probably paid Retail Price. A vehicle's Retail Price is usually higher than its private party price, which is usually higher than its dealer price.

Dealers charge a premium for vehicles because they make the purchase process easy. They inspect, repair, and clean vehicles. They offer value-added services like warranties, financing, and service packages.

So, if you buy a vehicle from a dealer and sell it to a dealer, your vehicle will likely depreciate, but you will also likely lose a bit of value buying retail and selling wholesale.

In most cases, this loss is far less than the loss of renting a vehicle. But understanding the differences in a vehicle's value is worth keeping in mind.

Storing your vehicle

If you want to store your vehicle and use it for future visits, you should consider your options.
Self-storage locations
There are literally tens of thousands of vehicle self-storage locations located across the United States. Outdoor storage at an out-of-the-way location may cost as little as $30-$50 per month.

U-Haul is one of the the largest franchises of self-storage locations in America.

Self-storage locations do not take responsibility for loss, damage, or theft of property from their premises.

We'll discuss insurance while your vehicle is stored below, but if you're storing your vehicle in an outdoor self-storage facility, you might consider investing $100 for an anti-theft device such as a steering wheel lock.
Peer-to-peer storage
Services such as Neighbor.com are like AirBnB for garages: you pay an individual to store your vehicle while you're away.
Managed storage
Vehicles are engineered to be used. If a vehicle sits too long, its tires get square, its battery goes flat, and oil doesn't stay where it should in the engine. A handful of managed storage companies make sure that your vehicle stays in top condition, even while you're away.

Adkos was started by veterans to store vehicles for servicemen and servicewomen during deployments. Their vehicle storage solutions, which are located in 16 US states, are available to civilians.

RecNation is a fast-growing RV-focused storage provider that also stores cars, bikes, and boats.

Insurance while your vehicle is stored
It's a good idea to keep your insurance policy active while your vehicle is in storage for two reasons. First, your storage location may not offer coverage against theft or damage while stored. Second, if you cancel or let your insurance policy expire, the likelihood that your insurer will refuse to insure you again increase dramatically.

There are several things you can do to manage your insurance cost while your vehicle is in storage:
Turn off collision coverage
Collision coverage reimburses you for damage to your vehicle due to an accident that you cause. It's pretty hard to cause an accident while your vehicle is in storage.
Increase your comprehensive deductible
Collision coverage reimburses you for damage to your vehicle due to an accident that you cause. It's pretty hard to cause an accident while your vehicle is in storage.

Renting your vehicle

Want to rent your vehicle out and earn income while you're not using it? Go for it!
Find an asset manager
You need someone to clean your vehicle between users.
Check your asset manager's insurance
Your asset manager should have liability, comprehensive, and collision insurance on your vehicle while they are renting it out, so you're not exposed to any risks while you're away.
Provide your tax ID number
Your asset manager will likely report your income to the IRS. In order to do this, they will require your LLC's Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN/EIN).

You need are responsible for filing state and federal tax returns, and paying any income taxes due.
Ensure you're not fouling your visa
If you're on a non-working visa or visa waiver (e.g., a B1/B2 visa or ESTA), you are generally not allowed to work or manage a US-based business while you're in the United States.

If you arrange rentals for your vehicle while you're in the United States, you may foul your visa, risking future entry into the country.

An American or a foreign national with a US work permit may manage your rentals while you're in the country; you may also manage your rentals while you're outside of the country (i.e., not in the US on your visa).

For further details, consult an immigration attorney.

Exporting your vehicle

Would your US vehicle look great in your stable at home? Ship it home with you!
Identify a shipper
We have used Schumacher Cargo Logistics since 2019 - visitor.us customers have given them consistently high marks.
Obtain import permit from your home country (where required)
Several countries require permission to import a vehicle. If you are importing your vehicle to one of these countries, obtain the required permits before shipping your vehicle.
Drop your vehicle with the shipper
Simply visit the location agreed upon with your shipper, drop your vehicle, and go!

The shipper will containerize your vehicle for safe and easy ocean transport. Depending on the route and availability, your vehicle will hit the water two weeks to two months after you drop it off.
Provide your vehicle's title to the shipper
In order to release your vehicle for export, your shipper will need your vehicle's title (the original document, not a copy).

If your title is still in process with the State of Montana, visitor.us can Fedex your title to the shipper as soon as we receive it.
Pay the shipper's invoice
The shipper will provide you an invoice for your vehicle's ocean passage. Pay it.
Complete customs process in the importing country
Conversions may be required to make your vehicle road-legal in the importing country. These will need to be done with a licensed converter. The importing country may also require customs duties, tariffs, and/or taxes to complete the importation process.

Previous Steps

How vehicles work in the US

Learn how vehicle purchase, registration, and insurance works in the United States in general.

Buy a vehicle in the US, even if you're just visiting.

Let visitor.us help you buy, register and insure a vehicle in the US - tax free!
Get started