The Secret Loophole to Get Your Car Registered in the US from Abroad.

The following was first published on the WeExpats blog. It is specifically about cars in Mexico but this strategy could work for all expats that need to get their car registered in the US from abroad. 

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This article concerns the American government. When you move your American car to Mexico, after some time, your state registration may need to be renewed. Letters from your home state will likely arrive requesting a safety or smog inspection to re-register your vehicle. If you live along the border, perhaps re-registering your vehicle is only a day’s drive—a short trip home—however the drive back to your home state is likely farther, and thus logistically unfeasible.

Other warning letters are sure to arrive. We have heard of temporary exemptions such as submitting a copy of your Mexican proof of insurance, which can lead to a temporary solution to registration. However, in roughly three months, the American government will inevitably begin its search anew.


It is possible to register your car in Clay County, South Dakota. It’s a small county, that discovered a great opportunity to register non-resident U.S. cars in Mexico (as well as other countries). They do not require South Dakota residency, insurance coverage, or smog safety registration. The entire process can be done via telephone and mail. This loophole allows you to legally keep your car registered in Mexico and avoid the DMV hassles, all while providing revenue for a small county in rural Dakota.

Clay County released a memo that states:

Once again, an applicant need not have a South Dakota address to apply for South Dakota title and registration. Under current law, out-of-state residential post office addresses will suffice.

The Department understands that certain counties handle number of mail forwarding services whose customers are, in fact, true “nomads” without abodes in this or any other state. Applicants wishing only to list a mail forwarding address will be required to indicate, under the penalties of perjury already present on current applications, that he or she claims no residential post office address in this or any other state. This will allow true nomads to provide their mail forwarding address information without requiring a traditional residential post office address. However, if the person does claim residence in another state, they are required to list that address, even if it is outside South Dakota.

For further information, contact the helpful employees at the DMV Treasurer in Clay County, South Dakota: +1-605-677-7123.

Here is a document about the official statement of non-residence registering in South Dakota:

South Dakota Official Statement

The DMV for Clay County, South Dakota has a very informative website, with the details of the loophole on this page:

Or you can visit a more specific title:

Non-Residents Titling and Registration Requirements Memo:

Policy on Non-Residence:

Affidavit in Support of Non-Residency:

Non-Residency Letter:

ATV Information: