Student Resources

Getting a Driver’s License

Social Security laws and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) laws often change. You may find a lack of consistency in information, and the experience of applying for a driver license or Social Security Card can take more time than you expect.

When applying for a driver license, you must inform the DMV that you are an F-1 student. A social security number is not necessary for a driver license. You will need to bring these documents to the DMV:

  • Your I-20
  • Your I-94 printout
  • Your passport
  1. Make an appointment for the written test. You can take a practice test and make appointments online at www.dmv.ca.gov. In addition, you may call 1 (800) 777-0133 for further information.
  2. Take all immigration documents (I-94, I-20, passport) when you go for your written test. The fee will be posted on the DMV website. Check the website to see what form of payment the DMV is currently accepting.
  3. After passing the written test, you will be given a temporary driver’s license. You have one more test to take. This is the actual driving test. DMV will give you this information and you have to return for a second test. This driving test is with an authorized DMV examiner who will be in the car with you to determine your safety and driving skills.

Keep in mind that all drivers, International or American, must have liability insurance for their cars. It is required by law. If you have a new or valuable automobile, you should get additional coverage. It will be expensive because you are a non-immigrant and a new driver in California.

Go to www.dmv.ca.gov for the office closest to your home. Always make an appointment with the DMV or you will have a very long wait while there. Good luck!