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Obtaining a California Driver’s License
International students are encouraged to obtain a California Driver’s License if they plan to drive a car in the United States. A California Driver’s License is required to purchase a car and obtain auto insurance. The State of California does not recognize an International Driving Permit (IDP)/International Driver’s License/International License as a valid form of driver’s license.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website outlines the process of obtaining a California Driver’s License. The steps include a written and driving skills test administered by the DMV. The California Driver’s Handbook is the best resource to help you prepare for these tests. Samples of written tests are also available online.

DMV Application Process
Please take the following documents to the DMV when applying:
1. Valid passport/visa
2. I-94 Arrival/ Departure record
3. I-20

Information for International Students:

  • Wait at least ten calendar days from the date of entry into the United States before applying for a driver’s license or ID to allow time for arrival data processing
  • Students must be enrolled full-time and pay the SEVIS fee to apply for a driver’s license. If not, there will be significant problems and delays with your application.
  • Students must wait patiently to ensure that their SEVIS record has been registered in SEVIS, and that they have an “active” SEVIS record. If a student remains in “initial” status upon application, the DMV will not issue the student a driver’s license.
  • Students who have a driver’s license from their home country may be exempt from the driving skills test. 
  • The DMV requires that you present the originals of all immigration documents: passport, printout of your I-94 Arrival/Departure record and I-20. Your passport or I-20/DS-2019 CANNOT expire less than 60 days from the date of application. If these documents expire in less than 60 days, you cannot apply. Be sure to bring your driver’s license from your home country to present to the officer at the DMV as it may exempt you from the driving test.
  • Fill-out an application form at the DMV.
  • If you do not have a Social Security Number (SSN) and are not in the process of applying for one, mark on the DMV application that you are not eligible for a SSN. You are only eligible for a SSN if you have a job offer for authorized paid on-campus or off-campus employment.
  • You must wait at least 30 days before calling the DMV office to inquire about your application. Most licenses will be issued within two weeks of the appointment. They cannot assist you before the 30-day window ends.

Information for Students on OPT
Students on OPT who would like to renew their driver’s license are required to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN). Without a SSN, the DMV will not approve of the driver’s license extension. First, take your OPT EAD card and F-1 documents to the Social Security Office to get a SSN. Then take your SSN, EAD card and F-1 documents to the DMV to obtain a license. You must also wait until the start date on your EAD card to submit your driver’s license application for it to be accepted.

Obtaining a California Identification Card
A California driver’s license is the primary form of identification. International students who do not drive can obtain a California Identification (ID) card instead. The DMV website offers detailed guidelines on obtaining an ID card.

Visiting the DMV
DMV office located closest to the Woodbury University Burbank campus:
1335 W. Glenoaks Blvd.
Glendale, CA. 91201

To reduce wait time at the DMV office, make an appointment online.

For more information regarding driver’s licenses, please consult the ICE Website​