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Author Topic: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License  (Read 1244 times)

Murray

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Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« on: January 23, 2019, 11:40:58 AM »
Hi,
For various reasons (including insurance costs) we (both UK resident) would like to get US driving licenses. We've heard it may be easiest in North Dakota, but does anyone know any details on where may be easiest or any restrictions? I understand some states require a residence qualification, so those would be out. The RV is stored in Nevada and registered and insured there.

Tom

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2019, 11:53:04 AM »
If you don't get a definitive answer here, you might need to check DMV (Dept of Motor Vehicles) web sites for individual states. In some states they're called some other name (e.g. Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Department of Transportation), but they'll be easy to find via google. Here's the relevant page of the North Dakota Dept of Transportation web site:

https://www.dot.nd.gov/divisions/driverslicense/dlrequirements.htm
« Last Edit: January 23, 2019, 12:00:19 PM by Tom »
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Tom

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2019, 12:04:44 PM »
Just a heads up on the insurance costs ... When we first moved (from the UK) to California and got CA drivers licenses, because we didn't have a full 12 months of driving experience/history in the US, our annual premium was doubled. When the 12 months was up, our premium halved. I don't know/recall if this was an insurance company issue, a California issue, or a Federal issue.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2019, 12:37:05 PM by Tom »
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jackiemac

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2019, 01:13:28 PM »
I'm interested in how you get on with this. We haven't bothered and when I asked the agent last year what the cost difference would be, it was around $24!  That said, you might have a better choice of insurers.

Nevada are very tourist friendly, not sure how difficult test is, but if I were you I'd also think about which town you take the test in, the smaller the better and away from large cities are likely to be easier. That said, folks on here will know much more than me as I am making assumptions.

Good luck!
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John From Detroit

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2019, 02:49:43 PM »
Before you leave home get an INTERNATIONAL driver's license.. Those may be accepted by DMV's in many states..

About all I can say about it.   No PERSONAL experience but I have a few folks I went to school with (Back when radios still had TUBES that had to warm up) and that is how they did it.   My radios had 6146s in them...
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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2019, 03:03:57 PM »
One caveat - the IDP (international driving permit) is nothing more than a "translation" of your existing driving licence, and wouldn't be accepted in lieu of a US license. Some states (such as California) specifically state that they don't accept the IDP. So, with or without an IDP, be sure to bring your UK licences.
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Gizmo100

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2019, 04:51:18 PM »
Just a side note in Alabama, when you get your License. They print a temporary paper License...Then mail the finial License.
So you would have to have a mail address. I don't know if a PO box would work.
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Isaac-1

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2019, 04:51:59 PM »
I don't know how this effects your situation being foreign nationals, but you should be aware there is an issue going on with drivers licenses in many states at the moment.  A few years ago the US federal government passed the Real ID act, part of this act required Real ID compliant identification to be required for any number of activities, which are being staged in over a number of years, this includes entry to federal facilities, and ultimately required to fly on commercial airlines.  There was a big push back against this act from a number of states, so while it worked its way through the courts a number of states did not offer a Real ID compliant drivers license, others made it optional, my home state will be making it mandatory next year. 

As chance would have it I just renewed my drivers license last week and opted to go ahead and get the Real ID compliant license, for me this meant having to show a certified copy of my birth certificate, my social security card, along with 2 pieces of recent official mail sent to my mailing address (I used a water bill, and a bank statement, as that was what was in my car) along with my old (not yet expired) drivers license as 1 form of photo ID.  There is a complex matrix of acceptable combinations of documents to get a real ID drivers license, though I don't know how this would work for a foreign national, or even if it is an option.

p.s. On Gizmo100's comment about Alabama, when I lived there 25+ years ago it took 4-6 weeks for the permanent license to show up in the mail, I hope they are faster now.  I live in Louisiana and the photo license is printed at the DMV office and takes about 5 minutes to process.

p.p.s. Also be aware about half the states now require special licensing with special extra testing to operate a vehicle over 26,000 pounds GVWR, so if your RV is a diesel pusher you may want to consider a state that does not require this extra level of licensing. 
« Last Edit: January 23, 2019, 04:57:01 PM by Isaac-1 »
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Tom

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2019, 05:05:08 PM »
I'd forgotten about the Real ID issue, but it's unlikely to affect the OP. Here's the fact sheet from the CA DMV.
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Isaac-1

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2019, 05:26:49 PM »
Tom, your FAQ would not load, so I searched on one for another state (South Carolina), and it said that Real ID drivers licenses were available to foreign national, it referenced another form, and said these could only be issued at certain DMV locations that process foreign drivers, so it appears at least in the case of South Carolina that only limited DMV locations issue drivers licenses to foreign nationals.  My state also does tiered services for the DMV, where only select locations allow people to pay re-instatement fines.
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Tom

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2019, 05:36:50 PM »
It's a long link, but it's just a PDF. Try click the link in the second box on this page
As written in that pdf, the real ID will only be required to board domestic flights and enter secure federal facilities, so the OP will be unlikely to require it.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2019, 05:40:01 PM by Tom »
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jackiemac

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2019, 05:41:40 PM »
Before you leave home get an INTERNATIONAL driver's license.. Those may be accepted by DMV's in many states..

About all I can say about it.   No PERSONAL experience but I have a few folks I went to school with (Back when radios still had TUBES that had to warm up) and that is how they did it.   My radios had 6146s in them...
We did that our first year but dont think theres any point. Police happy with UK driving licence when someone got stopped in Washington State.....
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Gizmo100

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2019, 05:44:43 PM »
We did that our first year but dont think theres any point. Police happy with UK driving licence when someone got stopped in Washington State.....

1 What did you do??
2 Washington is a lot more liberal than...Let's say Alabama..We don't like the sound of that accent ;D
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jackiemac

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2019, 05:48:44 PM »
1 What did you do??
2 Washington is a lot more liberal than...Let's say Alabama..We don't like the sound of that accent ;D
Ahem, it wasnt me!

Too busy thinking about Mount Rainier and took his eye off the speedometer but not his foot!  The police officer offered him a choice; a $100 fine or treat the lovely lady (that was me) to a very nice lunch!

You know what his choice was, and I'm still waiting on the lunch!
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Gizmo100

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2019, 06:01:18 PM »
Ahem, it wasnt me!

Too busy thinking about Mount Rainier and took his eye off the speedometer but not his foot!  The police officer offered him a choice; a $100 fine or treat the lovely lady (that was me) to a very nice lunch!

You know what his choice was, and I'm still waiting on the lunch!

If it was Alabama ...The nice officer would have taken the lovely lady to lunch...While "he's" picking up trash on the side of the road.
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maddog348

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2019, 06:17:25 PM »
just today I got my 'Real' CA drivers license in the mail ~~ YEAH
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Bill N

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #16 on: January 24, 2019, 06:31:24 AM »
Hi,
For various reasons (including insurance costs) we (both UK resident) would like to get US driving licenses. We've heard it may be easiest in North Dakota, but does anyone know any details on where may be easiest or any restrictions? I understand some states require a residence qualification, so those would be out. The RV is stored in Nevada and registered and insured there.
I worked as a Drivers License Examiner in North Dakota but retired 16 years ago so my input would need to be checked.  North Dakota, at that time, definitely had a residency requirement.  But contact their DOT for today's rules. 

Bill
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jackiemac

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #17 on: January 24, 2019, 11:29:54 AM »
If it was Alabama ...The nice officer would have taken the lovely lady to lunch...While "he's" picking up trash on the side of the road.
I might have enjoyed that  ;D
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Tom

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2019, 01:52:32 PM »
Quote from: Bill N
I worked as a Drivers License Examiner in North Dakota ... at that time, definitely had a residency requirement.  But contact their DOT for today's rules.


Nice to have the inside scoop Bill, thanks.
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docj

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #19 on: January 24, 2019, 04:23:44 PM »
Hi,
For various reasons (including insurance costs) we (both UK resident) would like to get US driving licenses. We've heard it may be easiest in North Dakota,

Are you sure that you don't mean South Dakota? I realize that they're both huge, rectangular states out in the middle of nowhere but there really is a difference.;D 

South Dakota is an RV-friendly state and thousands of full-time RVers are registered to drive and vote there.  The licensing bureau will accept a mail forwarding address but you are required to declare on an affidavit that you are a resident and intend to return.  My suggestion is to call the driver's license folks and ask. The public servants we've dealt with in SD have all been very pleasant to work with.   Here's a link to the driver licensing office: https://dps.sd.gov/driver-licensing

The only reason I can think of for why North Dakota might be worth talking to is that they may have nearby Canadians with dual licensing and may have special provisions for that. 

There's no way you can ever comply with the Real  ID Act which was discussed in a previous post because one of the pieces of information that is required is proof of a Social Security number which, of course, you won't have.

« Last Edit: January 24, 2019, 04:25:32 PM by docj »
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Bill N

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #20 on: January 25, 2019, 07:18:48 AM »
Here is a general description of Real ID (google Real ID):

"Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act enacted the 9/11 Commission's recommendation that the Federal Government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses.” The Act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for official purposes licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards. States have made considerable progress in meeting this key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission and every state has a more secure driver's license today than before the passage of the Act."

I know that several states were in danger of not having their driver licenses recognized for airline travel or access to military bases because they had not complied with the REAL ID requirements.  North Dakota and Missouri were two of those.  I don't know if ND is still in that category but Missouri recently received another extension of a waiver to the requirements.  Not sure how long that extension is but the state legislature is responsible to take adequate action to enhance driver licenses to meet the requirements.  What I do see is a new Missouri license plate which is a pathetic replacement for the last pathetic version......lol

Bill
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jackiemac

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2019, 07:51:03 AM »


p.p.s. Also be aware about half the states now require special licensing with special extra testing to operate a vehicle over 26,000 pounds GVWR, so if your RV is a diesel pusher you may want to consider a state that does not require this extra level of licensing.

This is another thing to look out for as we were told some states dont issue licences for over a certain weight and I thought it was less than 26000lbs. Same in UK so check your UK licence too!
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docj

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #22 on: January 25, 2019, 08:14:07 AM »


I know that several states were in danger of not having their driver licenses recognized for airline travel or access to military bases because they had not complied with the REAL ID requirements.  North Dakota and Missouri were two of those.  I don't know if ND is still in that category but Missouri recently received another extension of a waiver to the requirements. 

According to the Homeland Security Department, the State is now Real ID compliant.

https://www.dhs.gov/real-id/north-dakota
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #23 on: January 25, 2019, 09:09:58 AM »
Lot's of good discussion here but little in the way of helpful advice for Murray.  I'm not able to improve much on that either, but will offer a few more thoughts.

The general requirements for obtaining a driving license in each state are geared toward  permanent residents of that state, which Murray most probably is not now and will not qualify for in the future. So the question becomes which states have alternate provisions to issue licenses to non-residents or temporary residents that he may be able to qualify for.  The typical clerk at a DMV office is often not familiar with those exceptions and alternatives, making it more difficult to get solid  advice even at official sources.

Probably the easiest way to get a US state driving license is to get one that is NOT Real ID compliant, which most states have. That way you only have to comply with the state's rules.  States that get a lot of longer-term visitors usually have well-known provisions for alternate forms of licensing. Nevada is one of those - they issue what they call a Driving Authorization, which is valid for operating a vehicle but not as an ID card for other purposes. Not sure if Murray could qualify, since Nevada doesn't issue driving licenses to "tourists" but does issue them to foreign nationals under certain circumstances.

http://www.dmvnv.com/dlresidency.htm

North Dakota has a non-Real ID license alternative but appears to have a requirement for a US Social Security (SS) number and also a residency requirement. Murray obviously won't have the SS, and may or may not be able to finesse the residency parameters.

Florida is another state that is well-experienced in handling licensing for temporary residents, but I don't find any provisions for a non-Real ID license.

For the reasons Tom cited, it's not clear that a US license helps much with insurance costs. However, each insurer will determine their rates based on their own criteria, so Murray needs to shop around.  Advice from other non-US residents is probably the best source for finding insurers that will cover them.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2019, 09:14:25 AM by Gary RV_Wizard »
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TonyL

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #24 on: February 13, 2019, 10:26:11 AM »
Just a small update, but not about getting a US driving licence. When we went to get our truck and fifth wheel insurance, Geico would not quote us without having or obtaining a US licence within 30 days. Also, when we went to get insurance through an agent in Texas the cost was well over $4500 for both units through Progressive. We phoned the company we were using for our LLC, they put us on to an agent in Missoula, less than half that quoted in Texas and still with Progressive. With regard to the international driving permit, we took Jackie's advice and obtained them before we flew out. Good job we did as Alomo car hire would not rent a vehicle without it, and you definitely require your UK licence.
Happy travels
Tony & Anne

jackiemac

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #25 on: February 13, 2019, 11:28:46 AM »
Just a small update, but not about getting a US driving licence. When we went to get our truck and fifth wheel insurance, Geico would not quote us without having or obtaining a US licence within 30 days. Also, when we went to get insurance through an agent in Texas the cost was well over $4500 for both units through Progressive. We phoned the company we were using for our LLC, they put us on to an agent in Missoula, less than half that quoted in Texas and still with Progressive. With regard to the international driving permit, we took Jackie's advice and obtained them before we flew out. Good job we did as Alomo car hire would not rent a vehicle without it, and you definitely require your UK licence.
Happy travels
Tony & Anne
Tony, we didn't bother with the international permit after the first year.  I am surprised at the car hire place as we have rented in NY, Vegas, LA and San Fran with no problems using our normal UK licence, although we never used Alamo...
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Tom

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #26 on: February 13, 2019, 11:54:35 AM »
Interesting update, thanks. Care to share the TX agent who was able to secure Progressive insurance at a lower price?

Like Jackie, I was surprised at the Alamo requirement for an IDP. It would make sense if the renter's DL was in a non-English language. Maybe it's a general rule handed down the chain that says "all foreign drivers licenses must be accompanied by an international driving permit".

It's been many years since I used my UK driving licence in the US, but the only time I recall anyone not accepting my UK licence was in 1980 when I tried to pay a grocery bill with a cheque (drawn on a US bank); They needed a DL as ID, and the clerk had never seen an A4 style UK license. My attempt to slowly pronounce DRI-VING LIC-ENCE was fruitless, and met with "no way can we accept that".

FWIW I had the cash in my pocket, but decided I'd let the store put the contents of two shopping carts back on the shelf, and shopped at another store.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2019, 11:59:10 AM by Tom »
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Bill N

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #27 on: February 13, 2019, 12:09:55 PM »
As best I can recall from my days as a Driver License Examiner an International Driver License was nothing more than an interpretation of a foreign drivers license.  We did require them even if in English in order to be able to determine if the class of license was equal to what that person would be driving in the US.

Bill
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Tom

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #28 on: February 13, 2019, 12:29:35 PM »
That makes sense Bill, although we weren't asked for them when applying for California licenses. OTOH I seem to recall that the equivalent of "class" was clearly spelled out on our UK licences, or at least on the English language side (ours were printed in Welsh on the reverse side).
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TonyL

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Re: Visitors to US - obtaining US Drivers License
« Reply #29 on: February 14, 2019, 07:31:01 AM »
Tom,
The agent we used to get our insurance was not in Texas but in Montana. Whether it was due to the vehicles being registered there got us a cheaper quote we are not sure. The agent was Garden City Insurance, very easy to deal with, super friendly and understanding about being non US citizens.
regards
TonyL