Foreign Visitors Driving in the U.S.
Quick facts for foreign visitors about driving in the United States.
- An International Driving Permit (IDP) translates information contained on your driver's license into 10 languages so that officials in foreign countries are able to interpret your license. An IDP supplements a valid government-issued license--it does not serve as a replacement for a license. If you are stopped by law enforcement, you will most likely be asked to produce both your IDP and your official driver's license. The United States does NOT issue International Driving Permits to foreign visitors, so you will need to obtain this document before traveling to the U.S.
- If you are going to reside in the U.S., you can get a U.S. driver's license once you are in the U.S., but it may take several months to obtain a U.S. driver's license.
- Foreign visitors who become U.S. residents can only obtain a driver's license from the state in which they reside (not from the federal government). Each state has its own driving rules and regulations. Check with your state's motor vehicles department to find out how to apply.
- Once you receive your U.S. driver's license from a state motor vehicles department, you will be permitted to drive in all other U.S. states. The laws in each state vary from one to another. It is your responsibility to know and obey the laws of that state while driving.
- The residency requirement for obtaining a U.S. driver's license varies with each state. Consult the motor vehicles department in your state for more information.
- If you are a foreign student coming to the U.S. to study, contact the university or college you will attend, as most institutions provide students with additional driving information.
- The U.S. government has issued warnings about Internet vendors of worthless international driver's licenses/permits. It is important to educate yourself about the dangers of these costly and illegal operations. See International Driver's License Warning from Federal Trade Commission.
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