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Driving in the U.S. if you are not a citizen

Depending on the U.S. states you will visit, you may need an International Driving Permit (IDP) as well as a driving permit from your country.

If you are a citizen of another country and are living permanently in the U.S., you may be able to get a regular state driver's license.

Learn about IDPs and how to get one before you visit the U.S.

An IDP is a form of identification that many countries around the world recognize. It allows you to drive legally in a different country.

  • Not every U.S. state requires an IDP. Contact the state department of motor vehicles for each state you plan to drive in to see if they require an IDP.
  • You must get an IDP before your trip. The U.S. does not issue IDPs to foreign visitors.
  • To get an IDP, contact the motor vehicle department of the country that issued your driver's license.
  • You may need both your license and an IDP to rent a car in the U.S. Check the rental company's policies and other requirements in advance.

Driver's licenses if you are living in the U.S. as a permanent resident

You may be eligible to apply for a driver's license from the state where you live.

  • The residency requirement for obtaining a U.S. driver's license is different in each state.
  • Contact your state department of motor vehicles to check the ID requirements and find out how to apply for a license.
  • A state driver's license allows you to drive anywhere in the U.S.

LAST UPDATED: December 6, 2023


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