Purchasing a Vehicle

Surprisingly, purchasing an auto without a credit history in the United States can be more difficult than purchasing a house. The following companies should offer either a loan or lease program for expatriates:

Audi West Houston

11850 Katy Fwy.

Houston, TX


BMW Downtown/Uptown

Justin McGaughey



Car Max

6909 Southwest Fwy.

Houston, TX


**Advancial Credit Union

930 Eldridge Parkway

Houston, TX


**This is your best source for getting an auto loan.

John Eagle Honda

Any Sales Rep

18787 Northwest Fwy.

Houston, TX


Westside Lexus

David Trice

12000 Old Katy Rd.

Houston, TX



Expat Ride

(561) 922-8922


Vehicle Inspection & Registration

To get a driver’s license, you need to register your vehicle.  To do so, you must first get it inspected.  If you live in Harris County, that inspection will also include an emissions test, as required by federal clean-air requirements.  Inspections can be performed at any certified service station, garage or dealership.  Inspection stickers, applied to the lower left inside corner of the windshield, are good for 12 months and display the month and year in which they expire.

When taking a car for inspection, you will need proof of liability insurance.  Again, out-of-state insurance policies are acceptable if coverage meets Texas requirements.  The cost for car inspections, including the emissions testing, is $38.00 + inside Harris County, plus $1 for Form VI-30-A, the vehicle identification certificate that is the critical document needed for registration.  Folks outside the county where emissions testing are not required can expect to pay $10.50 for an inspection.  After the vehicle passes inspection, submit Form VI-30-A and an application for a certificate of title to an office of the county tax assessor, either at the downtown courthouse, 1400 Lubbock, or a satellite office.  Title and registration fees are due at this time.  There is a $13 fee for the title application, and registration costs will depend upon the model of your vehicle. Typically passenger vehicle registration runs about $64 annually.

For more information on car inspections call 281-272-1150.  For details on vehicle registration call the courthouse at 713-224-1919.  (Note: A listing for “vehicle and title registrations” in local phone directories is for replacement license plates only.)  For general information on the entire process, contact the Texas Department of Transportation’s TxDOT Help Desk at 512-465-7611.  For vehicle title and registrations forms or additional information check out the TxDOT Web site at www.dot.state.tx.us.