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CA - SSN and Driving license process

CA - SSN and Driving license process

Old May 31st 2016, 11:46 am
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Default CA - SSN and Driving license process

Hi all,

Just checking to see if my understanding to get set up in the US looks about correct to those of you with recent experience. I'm due to arrive in San Francisco in a couple of weeks. Based on my research so far, my current steps to get set up with a SSN and driving license seems to be:

  1. Get appointment at social security office
  2. Wait ~2 weeks for SSN to arrive
  3. Then I can book appointment at local DMZ (do I need to ask for anything special?)
  4. They will check my UK drivers license
  5. I will do an eye test + theory test
  6. If I pass the above tests then I will get a 90 day license which I can drive on
  7. Then I need to book my behind the wheel test within 90 days. At which point they will send me my full drivers license which can take a month or so.


Am I missing anything here? I'll bring both parts of my UK license + birth cert and relevant visa docs.

Any other tips for handling this?



Many thanks for any advice :-)
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Old May 31st 2016, 3:31 pm
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Default Re: CA - SSN and Driving license process

Originally Posted by dbr84 View Post
Hi all,

Just checking to see if my understanding to get set up in the US looks about correct to those of you with recent experience. I'm due to arrive in San Francisco in a couple of weeks. Based on my research so far, my current steps to get set up with a SSN and driving license seems to be:

  1. Get appointment at social security office
  1. [*]
  2. [*]
  3. [*]
  4. [*]
  5. [*]
  6. [*]
Originally Posted by dbr84 View Post

Am I missing anything here? I'll bring both parts of my UK license + birth cert and relevant visa docs.

Any other tips for handling this?



Many thanks for any advice :-)
Don't know how the DMV works in California but here in NY after you take the theory test and pass you get a driving permit which allows you to drive as long as you are accompanied by a licensed driver.

Check their website out. In NY you need to bring proof of where you are living, i.e. a utility bill, a lease, etc.

Being an immigrant you will need to bring a USCIS document that shows you status and hope that the DMV personnel is familiar with that document.

Their website will tell you how long you can drive on your UK license. Here in NY it is 90 days.
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Old May 31st 2016, 3:40 pm
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Default Re: CA - SSN and Driving license process

In CA an "out of state" license is only valid for ten days after you "become resident" in CA, meaning rent/buy a house, start a job/business, put your child in school, etc.

Obviously this is unrealistic for a new immigrant, but you should use your best efforts to get a CA license as soon a reasonably possible (IMO 30 days would be a good goal to set for yourself), and be able to prove that you are working on the process to get a license in the event that the police stop you, .... and in the event that the police know what the law says, because anecdotally on BE it has been reported that they don't.
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Old May 31st 2016, 3:44 pm
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Default Re: CA - SSN and Driving license process

Well I will try and get it ASAP, but I am going to be reliant on my SSN which can take time.

If I get the 90 day permit, can I drive on my own in CA?

I don't mind if it takes a month or so to arrange as it will take me time to find a car to buy anyway. I guess insurance companies may require me to have a US license also though.
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Old May 31st 2016, 4:55 pm
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Default Re: CA - SSN and Driving license process

My fingers did the walking

https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/

How to apply for a driver license if you are over 18

If you are a visitor in California over 18 and have a valid driver license from your home state or country, you may drive in this state without getting a California driver license as long as your home state license remains valid.

If you become a California resident, you must get a California driver license within 10 days. Residency is established by voting in a California election, paying resident tuition, filing for a homeowner's property tax exemption, or any other privilege or benefit not ordinarily extended to nonresidents.

To apply for an original driver license if you are over 18, you will need to do the following:
•Make an appointment before visiting a DMV office (walk-ins are only accepted at our Driver License Processing Centers).
•Complete application form DL 44 (An original DL 44 form must be submitted. Copies will not be accepted.)
•Give a thumb print
•Have your picture taken
•Provide your social security number. It will be verified with the Social Security Administration while you are in the office.
•Verify your birth date and legal presence If your current name no longer matches the name on your birth data/legal presence document, see "True Full Name" and "How to Change Your Name" for more information.
•Provide your true full name
•Pay the application fee
•Pass a vision exam
•Pass a traffic laws and sign test. There are 36 questions on the test. You have three chances to pass.(Sample Test)

Last edited by Rete; May 31st 2016 at 4:58 pm.
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Old May 31st 2016, 4:58 pm
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Default Re: CA - SSN and Driving license process

Originally Posted by dbr84 View Post
..... I don't mind if it takes a month or so to arrange as it will take me time to find a car to buy anyway. ....
It shouldn't.
.... I guess insurance companies may require me to have a US license also though.
Many people have reported getting insurance while still on a UK licence, and at little or no cost premium.
Originally Posted by Rete View Post
.... To apply for an original driver license if you are over 18, you will need to do the following:
•Make an appointment before visiting a DMV office (walk-ins are only accepted at our Driver License Processing Centers).
•Complete application form DL 44 (An original DL 44 form must be submitted. Copies will not be accepted.)
•Give a thumb print
•Have your picture taken
•Provide your social security number. It will be verified with the Social Security Administration while you are in the office.
•Verify your birth date and legal presence If your current name no longer matches the name on your birth data/legal presence document, see "True Full Name" and "How to Change Your Name" for more information.
•Provide your true full name
•Pay the application fee
•Pass a vision exam
•Pass a traffic laws and sign test. There are 36 questions on the test. You have three chances to pass.(Sample Test)
Added to which, anyone without an "exchangeable" license (most immigrants, including those with a UK licence) must do a road test.

Last edited by Pulaski; May 31st 2016 at 5:06 pm.
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Old May 31st 2016, 5:04 pm
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Default Re: CA - SSN and Driving license process

I guess/hope their "10 day limit" to get a CA license is negotiable. As I've heard the SSN can take 2 weeks+ to arrive.

The SSN will be my first port of call, but how long they take to process is out of my hands. hmm.
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Old May 31st 2016, 5:10 pm
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Default Re: CA - SSN and Driving license process

Originally Posted by dbr84 View Post
I guess/hope their "10 day limit" to get a CA license is negotiable. As I've heard the SSN can take 2 weeks+ to arrive.

The SSN will be my first port of call, but how long they take to process is out of my hands. hmm.
People having been reporting getting an SSN in 2-3 days.

The 10 days is not "negotiatiable", but as I described above, you shouldn't have any problem so long as you (i) drive carefully, avoiding attracting the attention of the police as far as possible, and (ii) can demonstrate that you are doing everything you can to get a CA license but have been thwarted by the DMV bureaucracy.
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Old May 31st 2016, 5:17 pm
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Default Re: CA - SSN and Driving license process

I've looked into this a lot and you're pretty much spot on but there is one mistake in this thread from a reply and that's that you will get a drivers permit (which requires a licensed driver accompany you) - if you have a UK drivers license you can use it for 10 days, in that time you can pass your written test and get a 'temporary license' if you show your UK license. Do not accept a drivers permit and speak to a supervisor if the person at the counter doesn't understand your situation.

The temp license lasts 90 days as you rightly mentioned, which should be enough time for you to pass your behind the wheel test.
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