Foreign license plates on US streets

I was driving home from work and was behind a car with a license plate not of the typical US type. It had big black lettering on a yellow background, two lines of three characters each, mixed letters and numbers. No other identifying info whatsoever. I assume it was issued from another country.

What are the laws about driving a car in the US with foreign registration and no US registration?

It might have been somebody who purchased a car on a tourist delivery plan. Most of the major Euro carmakers who sell cars in the States have schemes whereby you pick up your US-spec car somewhere in Europe, drive it on your vacation and have it shipped back to the States when you leave. IIRC, you recieve European plates for use on your trip.

When you return, the car is waiting for you on the dock and you simply claim it and drive off. Since the car is US-spec, it can be registered without any hassle as if you bought it from a dealer in your town. I don’t remember if you have to go to the DMV yourself once you get home or if US registration is done for you as part of the process. Either way, it may have been somebody who got the car in Europe and hasn’t gotten his or her US tags on the car yet.

Every summer I usually see some european plates on motorcycles up here. I suspect the get them shipped over and drive up the Alaska Highway with them… usually a group of 3-4 at a time. For some reason, Germans especially seem to love N.W. North America.

I suppose you can drive a car in the US with foreign plates subject to the same restrictions as any state imposes on out-or-state plates. In other words, as long as you are there temporarily then you are OK but if you become a resident, then you have a limited time to get local tags.

Your description sounds like the Mexican plates I see on the highways here. You could begin your search at and then check some of the links.