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How to request Driver’s license in the USA

Driver’s license Obtaining in the USA should be one of the first things to tackle when arriving in your new home.

Initially, your driver’s license from your home country is usually still valid. The USA has concluded agreements with several countries thanks to which non-American driver’s licenses remain valid for a period of up to one year. However, the exact time limits and regulations vary from state to state.

If you wish to obtain a driver’s license in the USA, you must do so in the state in which you are a permanent resident. The authority responsible for issuing the driver’s license is the respective Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in each state.

If you are driving with an American driver’s license outside your state of residence, all other states will recognize your document. However, if you relocate within the US to another state, you will need to obtain a new driver’s license in the new state.

US driver’s license and its functions

The driver’s license in the USA is not only the permission to drive a vehicle. It fulfills a number of other purposes, but above all, it also serves as an ID document. Those who neither have a driver’s license nor wish to obtain one can apply to their local DMV for an ID card as a substitute, which then fulfills the ID card function.

However, there are also other reasons why it is highly advisable to apply for a driver’s license as soon as you arrive in America. Having a driver’s license in the USA is also an advantage

  • when dealing with authorities
  • when concluding insurances
  • when applying for credit.

Exchanging a driver’s license in the USA

If you have a driver’s license from your home country, you must have it renewed in the United States. However, each state has its own guidelines and requirements for doing so.

Some US states have an agreement with other countries, and the exchange of a driver’s license is relatively uncomplicated. Yet, some states require a theoretical test, while others require a practical driving test as well. Moreover, a vision test and the submission of other documents are often requested as well.

While particularly strict regulations apply in the state of New York or in Washington D.C., the hurdles to obtaining a US driver’s license are significantly lower in Florida, for example. Below, we have listed the different driver’s license requirements for some of the most popular states.

Driver’s license requirements in California

  • Submitting of request within ten days after the change of residence
  • Theoretical test
  • Fee: $31
  • Vision test
  • Visa valid for at least 60 days
  • Social Security Number
  • Proof of residence in the US
  • Motor Vehicle Safety Inspection every two years for vehicles older than six years

Driver’s license requirements in Florida

  • Theoretical test
  • Vision test
  • International driver’s license (if applicable)

Driver’s license requirements in Washington D.C.

  • Theoretical test
  • Fee: issuing $44 + test $10
  • Vision test
  • ID card
  • Social Security Number
  • No outstanding debt with the District of Columbia
  • Proof of residence in the US
  • Translation of the existing driver’s license
  • Motor Vehicle Safety Inspection every two years

Driver’s license requirements in New York

  • Submitting of request within 30 days after the change of residence
  • Theoretical test
  • A 5-hour driving class followed by a road test
  • Social Security Number
  • Car liability insurance mandatory
  • Motor Vehicle Safety Inspection every year

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