International students and scholars, and their dependents, may be eligible to drive a motor vehicle while residing in the United States. However, those who wish to operate a vehicle must successfully understand the driving rules and requirements and apply for and receive a driver’s license.

Know Before You Go

Driving a car without a driver’s license is illegal. To acquire a driver’s license, you must apply for one at your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which can have a different name in some states.

Getting a Driver’s Learning Permit

Before you can get a license, you must apply for a learner permit at the DMV office and take the written test. You can prepare by reading the specific state requirements and drivers manual and taking practice tests.

In order to obtain a learner permit, you must be prepared with the following:

Drivers License Application Process

Review the appropriate state information about driving rules and regulations in your state or territory.

Know Before You Go: Important Information

  • If you are a new student, you must wait 14 days after arriving in the United States and beginning classes to have your SEVIS record activated by your designated school official prior to applying for a driver’s license.
  • You must have a Social Security number (SSN), or letter from the Social Security Administration indicating you do not have a SSN in order to apply for a driver’s license. If you need to obtain a letter from the SSA office, you must do this in person at your local office.  Make sure to bring your passport, and immigration documents.
  • You will need to have all necessary and valid documents in order to meet your 6 points of identification. Please refer to the department of motor vehicle website in the state you are applying for a driver’s license to obtain information on the 6 points of identification.

Driving in the United States

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