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Foreign Visitors Driving in the U.S.

Quick facts for foreign visitors, students, and residents about driving in the United States of America.

Short-Term Visitors

If you plan to drive when you visit the United States, check the driving rules in the state(s) you'll be visiting to verify that you can use your non-U.S. driver's license.  

If you want to rent a car, find out the rental company's policies in advance. You may need both your driver's license and an International Driving Permit (IDP). An IDP is identification that contains your name, photo, and driver information translated into 10 languages. 

The United States does not issue International Driving Permits to foreign visitors. You will need to obtain this document in the country that issued your driver's license before you travel to the United States.


If you are a foreign student coming to the United States to study, you should contact the university or college you'll be attending for information about driving.

Residents (Non-U.S. Citizens)

The residency requirement for obtaining a U.S. driver's license is different in each state. Check the department of motor vehicles in the state where you live to see the requirements.

If you are eligible to apply for a driver's license, you can only get a driver's license from the state where you live. Check with your state's department of motor vehicles to find out how to apply.

Once you receive your U.S. driver's license from a state motor vehicle department, you can drive in all U.S. states. Remember that the driving laws in each state differ and it is your responsibility to know and obey the laws of the state where you are driving.

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