International students who plan on driving in the U.S. need to adhere to the following guidelines.
If you are an an F-1 or J-1 student who is planning to drive a car while you are in the U.S. you must apply for a California driver's license. It is important to note that your home country's valid driver's license is acceptable only if you are on a temporary visitor/tourist status. Any student who is enrolled in a full master's degree program at MIIS should plan on obtaining a valid California Driver's license. Most motor vehicle purchases and the procurement of motor vehicle insurance will require that you hold a valid California Driver's license. The following information is intended to help you navigate this process and make is as smooth as possible.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website outlines the process of obtaining a California Driver's License. The application process includes a written test and a driving skills test administered by the DMV. The California Driver's Handbook is a great resource when preparing for these tests. Samples of the written tests are also available online.
In order to verify the applicant's birth date and legal status for a driver's license or ID card the DMV requires the following documents:
1. Valid passport
2. I-94 card
3. I-20 or DS-2019
4. Social Security Number*
The current fee for a driver's license is $41.
* If you are not currently employed in the United States you will not be able to apply for a social security number (SSN). If this is the case you are exempt from the DMV SSN requirements. Consider obtaining a support letter from the Office of Student Services to verify this information.
A California Identification Card (ID) is commonly used as an official form of identification. International students and scholars who do not drive are still able to obtain a California ID. This can be a useful if you do not want to carry your passport around with you. The DMV website offers detailed guidelines on how to obtain an ID card.
The State of California does not recognize an International Driving Permit (IDP) as a valid driver's license. However, California does recognize a valid driver's license that is issued by a foreign jurisdiction (country, state, or territory) of which the license holder is a resident.
Essentially, an IDP is proof that you hold a valid driver's license in your own country. And it provides a translation into almost a dozen languages, mainly so that police and other authorities in other countries can read your license in their own language.
The local DMV Office is located in Seaside at:
1180 Canyon Del Rey Blvd.
See their location on the MAP