Driver’s Licenses If you plan to own a car while you are here in the U.S., you will need to obtain a U.S. drivers license. Each state issues its own licenses to allow residents of that state to drive legally. Although you obtain a license from the state in which you live, this license will legally allow you to drive in other states. However, if you move from one state to a different one, you must obtain a drivers license for the new state within 30 days. There are a few things you will need in order to obtain a driver’s license from The Department of Motor Vehicles. The application procedures vary depending on your state of residence. For a complete list of the required documentation in the area where you live, please refer to the following websites: DC residents http://dmv.washingtondc.gov/serv/dlicense/getlicense.shtm Maryland residents http://www.mva.state.md.us/ Virginia residents http://www.dmv.state.va.us/webdoc/citizen/drivers/applying.asp For the District of Columbia DC Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) www.dmv.washingtondc.gov Address: Georgetown Park Mall, 3222 M Street, NW, Lower Level Washington, D.C. 20007 Phone: (202) 727-5000 Office Hours: Monday-Friday 8:15am-4:00pm (1) The International Driver’s License is good for one year from the date of issue. The Department of Motor Vehicles will provide D.C. driver’s licenses, learner’s permits, or non-driver identification cards to foreign nationals who are residents of the United States for at least six months and have acceptable documentation. In addition to regular driver’s license requirements, you must provide proof of lawful entry into the United States with one of the following: A valid passport with your I-94 card; A valid Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) employment card; A Resident Alien card; Certificate of naturalization or citizenship. Additionally, applicants with A-1, 2, or 3 and G-1, 2, 3, or 4 certifications must obtain a letter from the U.S. State Department of the World Bank Office of Personnel stating that the applicant is employed by either of these organizations. Please note that the DMV accepts original documents only. While it is not necessary to have a Social Security Number to apply for a D.C. driver’s license, having one can make the application process easier. Since newly arrived F-1 students who do not have jobs are not eligible for a Social Security number, they may need to present a Social Security rejection notice to the D.C. DMV. (2) In order to obtain a D.C. driver’s license you must apply for a learning permit (fee $20) and take an eye, written, and road test. Written tests are available in English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and Vietnamese. Once you pass these tests, the fee for obtaining the D.C. license is $39. The D.C. license is valid for four years from the date of issue. (3) In order to obtain a learning permit you must provide proof of name and date of birth, and proof of current residency. For proof of name and date of birth bring your passport. To provide proof of current residency, you must produce one of the following: A complete utility bill issued within the last 60 days showing your name at your current address. An original lease or rental agreement with your name listed as the lessee or renter. You may use a handwritten lease if it is notarized by the lessee or an authorized representative from a leasing company. A written statement from a person owning the residence or residing with the applicant at the stated residence and a complete utility bill of that person and a copy of this person’s valid D.C. driver’s license or non-driver’s identification card. (3) If you have a driver’s license from your country, you may avoid taking the road test by producing your license, and also showing either a letter from your Embassy certifying that your driver’s license is valid or else a typed translation of your license by a certified translator. After taking the written test and paying a fee of $39, you should get the D.C. license on the same day. For the State of Maryland Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) www.marylandmva.com Address: 15 Metropolitan Grove Road Gaithersburg, MD 20878 Phone: (800) 950-1682 Office Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:30pm; Saturday 8:30am- 12:00pm (driver’s licenses only) (1) The International Driver’s License is good for one year from the date of issue. (2) To apply for a Maryland learner’s permit or driver’s license, you must schedule an appointment by calling 1-800-950-1MVA if you can provide a valid employment authorization card (I-688A, I-688B, I-766) OR a valid passport with a valid United States visa and valid I-94 OR a valid permanent resident card (I-551) you are not required to make a appointment and may visit the office. Also all applicants must provide proof of age, identity, Maryland residence, and lawful admission. While it is not absolutely necessary for you to have a Social Security Number (SSN), having one can make the application process easier. Only original documents will be accepted. (3) If you have never held a driver’s license before you will need to hold a Maryland learner’s permit for 4 months before applying for a driver’s license. To apply for a learner’s permit you must pass an eye test and a written knowledge test and pay a $45 fee, which includes the Maryland license fee. (4) For a Maryland driver’s license, you must take an eye, written, and driving test. You must produce a certificate showing that you have completed 30 hours of classroom instruction, 6 hours of driving instruction, and a 3 hour alcohol and drug awareness course. The drug and alcohol awareness course can be taken privately and can cost up to $35. In addition, if you have never held a driver’s license before you will need to show proof of 40 hours of supervised driving with a mentor. The license expires five years from the date of issue. (5) If you have a driver’s license from your country, you have to appear in person to take the eye, written, and driving tests. You will need to pay a $45 fee and present your current license along with a certified English translation of your license. In addition, you will need to produce a certificate showing you have completed 30 hours of classroom instruction, 6 hours of driving instruction, and a 3 hour drug and alcohol awareness course. For the State of Virginia Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) www.dmvnow.com Address: 4150 South Four Mile Run Drive Arlington, VA 22207 Phone: (866) 368-5463 Office Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30am-5:30pm; Saturday 8:30am- 12:30pm (1) The International Driver’s License is good for one year from the date of issue. (2) To apply for a Virginia driver’s license or learner’s permit you must bring two identification documents (passport, birth certificate, etc.), proof of Virginia residency, and proof of Social Security Number (SSN) if you have one. If you do not have a SSN, you must provide a letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA) stating that you are not eligible to have one. To apply for a photo identification card you must bring two identification documents and proof of Virginia residency. For a complete list of acceptable supporting documents consult: http://www.dmvnow.com/webdoc/pdf/dmv141.pdf. Please note that only original documents will be accepted. (3) Unless you have a Canadian, French, or German license, you must hold a Virginia learner’s permit for 30 days before acquiring the Virginia state license. The fee for the learner’s permit ranges from $12 to $28 and includes the license fee as well. (4) To apply for a Virginia driver’s license you have to take an eye, knowledge, and road-skills test after paying a fee that ranges from $12 to $28 depending on your age and the duration of the license. If you are under 19 you have to present a driver education certificate. (5) If you are a non-resident temporarily living in Virginia, you may drive with another state or country’s license (so long as it is accompanied by a certified English translation) for up to six months. If you plan to become a resident of Virginia, you will need to apply for a Virginia license within 60 days of arriving. (6) Virginia does not recognize all licenses from other countries for exemption from the road test. If you present a valid driver’s license issued by a U.S. state, territory, jurisdiction, a Canadian province, France, or Germany, you may not be required to take the knowledge exam or the road skills test, but you must pass an eye test. Canadian or U.S. licenses must be surrendered when you apply for a Virginia driver’s license. Be sure to photocopy your out-of-state license before surrendering it as you may need it for insurance or licensing purposes. Be sure to bring your passport and immigration documentation. Be prepared for long waits. Once you obtain your license, carefully obey traffic signals and road signs and practice good driving habits. The DMV for the state of Virginia has excellent tips for developing and maintaining good driving habits. There are many traffic cameras around the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area that photograph vehicles that ignore traffic signals or posted road signs such as speed limits. If one of these cameras takes a picture of you, you will receive the picture in the mail along with traffic tickets assessing fines that you will be expected to pay.
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