Foreign Nationals Driving in the United States
Individuals who drive in the United States must hold a valid driver's license at all times.
In order to rent a vehicle in the United States, all individuals should check with the rental company providing the vehicle and find out about the necessary documents and any other special requirements such as age required, compensation, and insurance needed. All of these requirements vary from state to state.
If you are visiting from outside the U.S. and Canada and plan to drive in the United States, check with the Motor Vehicle Department in each state you plan to drive. You should contact each state's department directly to be sure that information provided online is up to date and accurate.
Some of the states will require an International Driving Permit (IDP) in addition to a valid license from your own country.
For Short-Term Visitors in the United States
If you intend on getting an IDP, this is something that you must do in advance of your travel:
- The U.S. does not issue IDPs to foreign visitors. You must contact the authorities in the country that issued your driver's license or its motoring association to inquire about an IDP.
- If you are planning to rent a car, you may need both a valid driver's license as well as an IDP. Be sure to check with the rental company to find out the necessary requirements.
Residents (Non-U.S. Citizens)
Obtaining a U.S. driver's license has different residency requirements in each state. Be sure to check with your state's department of motor vehicles for the necessary requirements on obtaining a license and operating a vehicle within the state. You can find a list of each Department of Motor Vehicles by clicking here.
- If you are eligible for a driver's license, you may only get a license from the state in which you live. Check with your state'sdepartment of motor vehicles to find out how to apply.
- Once you receive a U.S. driver's license, you can drive anywhere in the U.S. Driving laws in each state differ; it is your responsibility to know and obey the laws of the state where you are driving.
For complete, up to date information regarding driving in the U.S. as an International, please visit https://www.usa.gov/visitors-driving
List of Motor Vehicle Departments within the U.S.