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Driving licence

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Requirements for Driving licence vary by state. Use the links below to investigate what is relevant to your state. Typically you will want to find out information like:

  • How long are you able to drive on your foreign licence?
    • typically 30/60/90 days or even up to 12 months
    • maybe less time if you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
    • there is no pattern among states.
  • What proof of identity do you need to take? (passport, foreign licence, Social Security card)
  • What proof or residence do you need to take? (utility bill, rental agreement)
  • What proof of immigration status do you need to take? (visa and/or related docs)
  • Can you do the test in a rental car? (need to show rental agreement/insurance?)
  • Does your visa type require anything specific? (ie L visas may be required to show a confirmation letter from employer in some states)
  • Will you have to do the test again? (theory and/or practical)
    • Most states will require you to do a theory and practical test if you do not already have a U.S. licence
  • Can you turn up or are appointments required?

Expiration date of driving license - nonimmigrants

  • Most, if not all, states will limit the validity of your driving licence to the period of time for which you have been admitted to the U.S.
  • In other words, if you are admitted until 01 May 2011, your driving licence will expire no later than that.
  • Some states may impose further limits on validity. For example, if you are nonimmigrant, you may be limited to a 1 or 2 year licence.
  • Some states, now including Texas, will not renew or issue a duplicate licence if you have less than 6 months remaining on your time in the United States.

Voting Registration - Be Careful

  • In many states, you can register to vote as part of obtaining or renewing a driving licence.
  • If you are not a US citizen, make sure this does not happen to you.
  • A false claim to US citizenship can render you inadmissible to the US as an immigrant, with no possibility of waiver.
  • Registering to vote, or worse still, voting, as a non-citizen is considered to be a "false claim" to US citizenship.

List by State State DMV, DOT, or other driving license related state government site:


Bear in mind that it has been reported that some offices have tried to take your foreign licence from you. The general consensus is that they shouldn't do this - they should only take another state's licence if you're moving state - but you may have to argue or not even show the licence unless asked.

In particular, if you are temporary, try to keep your overseas licence as your U.S. licence will only be valid as far as your immigration documents go. You may need it to avoid being without a valid licence when you leave the United States. Depending on where you are from, you may be able to renew your existing drivers licence if you are only absent temporarily, but this is not permitted by many jurisdictions.


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