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Foreign Nationals Driving in the U.S.

People who drive in the U.S. must have a valid driver's license. If you're a foreign visitor, some states require you to have an International Driving Permit (IDP) and a valid license from your own country. To find out the ID requirements of the U.S. state(s) where you will be driving, contact that state's motor vehicle department

What is an IDP and when should visitors to the U.S. get one?

An IDP is a form of identification that many countries around the world recognize. It translates your identification into 10 languages and allows you to drive legally in a different country.

If you intend to get an IDP, you must do so in advance of your trip. The United States 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. If you’re planning to rent one, find out the rental company's policies and other requirements in advance.
  • Beware of international driver's license scams. Scammers may try to sell you a fake IDP. In addition to losing money, you may be subject to travel delays or legal issues if you use a fake IDP in the U.S. You can report international driver’s license scams to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

What ID do non-citizen residents need to drive in the U.S.?

If you are eligible to apply for a driver's license, you must get 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. 
  • Check the requirements and find out how to apply by contacting your state's department of motor vehicles.  
  • A U.S. driver's license allows you to drive anywhere in the U.S. It is your responsibility to know and obey the laws of the state where you are driving.
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Last Updated: October 24, 2022