Skip to main content
Hero background

How to Get a Drivers License When Arriving From a Foreign Country

If you have just moved from a foreign country to the United States, how do you go about getting a driver's license? While the process to get your license is easy, you have to complete it correctly to ensure that you are driving in America legally.

Show Proof of Residency Status in Your Home State

Although the trend is changing in some states, it is unlikely that you will be able to get your driver's license if you are in the country as an illegal alien. You will need to prove that you are in the country either as a citizen or as a permanent resident. Otherwise, you won't be able to get your license. You may also have to take a written test as well as a road test to get your license. Consider taking a DMV practice test beforehand to make sure you can pass on the first try.

Surrender Your Foreign License Before Getting Your New One

Drivers in America are not allowed to possess a driver's license from two different jurisdictions. While your foreign license may be valid for a certain period of time, you generally must surrender it within 30-60 days to obtain your new license. In some states, you must surrender your foreign license even if you are going to be in the country only temporarily for work or school.

Consider Getting an International Driving Permit

If you are only going to be in the country for a short period of time, consider getting an International Driving Permit while in the country. This document will translate your information into English if you come from a country where English isn't the official language. Whether you are an American or have come to the U.S. from another country, you are responsible for knowing the traffic laws in any state where you drive. If you are stopped by the police, it is up to you to show a valid driver's license and be in compliance with all applicable laws.