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How international students can apply for a US driver’s license

How international students can apply for a US driver's license

Obtaining a US driver’s license can make life a little easier for an international student. Leadership will help you complete missions, explore the new home, and visit places with friends.

In the United States, your driver’s license may be issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or the Vehicle Registry (RMV) in your state of residence. Each state has different requirements for obtaining a driver’s license, but this guide will help you understand the basics and where to find information on government licenses.

Talk to the campus counsellor


Your on-campus consultant can help you find out everything you need to know about getting a driver’s license. They understand how to obtain a driver’s license and can show you how to collect all the information you need to apply. Talking to your advisor first can make it much easier for you to get a U.S. driver’s license.

Driving in the United States with a foreign license is possible depending on where you are. If you are an experienced driver, ask your advisor if your license will operate in the United States.

Wait at least two weeks after arrival


You may be happy to receive a new license as soon as you arrive in the US, but please be patient. Before you can apply for a government license as an international student, you must be active in the Student Visitor Information and Exchange (SEVIS) system. It can take up to ten days for SEVIS status to update upon arrival in the United States. It can then take another two business days for local systems to update your active status.

Therefore, if you try to apply for a US driver’s license too early, your application will be denied. If you wait at least two weeks, these systems will have time to update.

Collect the relevant documentation
What documents are required to obtain a driving license?

To obtain a driver’s license from outside the United States, you must prove that you are an international student living in the United States. You should have the following documentation:

Your unexpired foreign passport with the required marks to enter the United States.

Your Form I-20

Two documents proving the residence of your state – such as a utility bill or a bank statement.

Your social security number or social security ineligibility letter

Your school enrollment form (DL-1/93)

Visa in the USA with supporting documents valid for at least 160 days.

Form I-94

Money to pay taxes

Find the nearest DMV or RMV
For more information about documents and other US driver’s license requirements, contact the DMV in the state where you are studying. The list below has links to DMV or RMV government offices for many international universities.

Where can I get a US driver’s license?

  • Adelphi University
    • New York Department of Motor Vehicles
  • American University or American Collegiate Washington DC
    • Washington, D.C., Department of Motor Vehicles
  • American Collegiate Los Angeles or University of the Pacific
    • California Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Auburn University or Auburn University at Montgomery
    • Alabama Law Enforcement Driver License Department
  • Cleveland State University or University of Dayton
    • State of Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles
  • Florida International University or University of Central Florida
    • Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
  • Louisiana State University
    • Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicle
  • University of Kansas
    • Kansas Department of Revenue Division of Motor Vehicles
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
    • Office of the Illinois Secretary of State-Driver Services
  • University of Massachusetts Boston
    • Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles
  • University of Mississippi
    • Driver Self-Service Portal of Mississippi
  • University of South Carolina
    • South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles
  • University of Utah
    • Utah Division of Motor Vehicles

Make sure your information is correct


Double-check all important documents to make sure they fit. Check the following information:
(a)Your SEVIS status is active.(b)Your name is spelt correctly in all documents.(C)Your date of birth is indicated on all documents.

If you notice any errors or inconsistencies, discuss with your on-campus counselor how to fix them before applying for a US driver’s license. Inconsistent information can cause delays in your application. Checking the correctness of all information before submitting your application can save you time.

Go to the nearest DMV
Contact your consultant or use the links in the list above to find your local DMV station. Then, when you go to DMV, you will be able to:

Make sure you have the Important documents

Apply for a license

Pass the written exam and the driver’s exam (if necessary)

Register your vehicle

Try to get to the DMV a few minutes before opening in the morning to avoid long queues! Some DMVs even list the waiting times on their website or in their app, so you can tell how busy they are on the day you plan to travel.

If you wear glasses or contact lenses, be sure to take them with you to the DMV. As a new driver, you may be required to take an eye test.

Ask an American friend to practice with you
If this is your first driving, you may not get the license right away. Instead, the DMV may issue you a driver’s license after taking a written test. This allows you to go with some restrictions.

Before you begin driving lessons in the United States, check the authorization documentation to make sure you meet all the requirements. You can visit a local driving school to practice driving. Talk to your advisor to find one in your area.

How much time does it take to get a driver’s license? Some DMVs issue a temporary driving license on the same day you apply. Your driver’s license card usually arrives in the mail in a week or two, but until then, you can drive with a temporary driver’s license.

Finally, if you’re not used to driving on the right side of the road, it may be helpful to ask an American friend to practice with you. It will improve your driving – and your friendship!

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