As a foreigner in US, you are required to have a driver’s license before you can drive any car. However, your valid foreign driver license in English allows you to drive without a supervising driver on any street, road, highway, bridge, or tunnel, except in a DMV road test area. When you go to apply, bring all required identification with you, which may include your passport, Social Security Number, foreign driver's license, birth certificate or permanent resident card, and proof of your legal immigration status. Often times, you will be required to bring proof of residence such as a utility bill or lease in your name showing your current address to confirm that you are an in-state resident. There are some general requirements needed of you before you can obtain a driver's license and this includes a written test, vision test, and driving test.
New York State residents who are of 16 years or over are eligible to apply for a New York driver license and you do not need to be a US Citizen to get a New York driver license, permit or non-driver ID card though you must show documentations that supports your legal status in the country. If you are under age 18 or are the parent of a driver under age 18, there are restrictions to the driving privileges available when driving in New York which is found in The Graduated License Law and Restrictions for Drivers under 18. However, if you are 17, you are eligible for a senior driver license (Class D or M) if you have a junior driver license or limited junior driver license and have completed a state-approved high school or college driver education course. On turning 18, you will automatically receive a senior license in your mail.
If you are applying for your first license which is usually valid for 5 years, there are certain steps you should know.
Step 1: Determine the type of license you need
In New York, there are different types of driver's license you can apply for:
A Commercial (CDL) which you can apply for if you are 21 or older to drive most single unit vehicles and vehicle combinations
B Commercial (CDL) which you can apply for if you are 18 or older to drive single unit vehicles that a Class E driver can drive plus buses and trucks that have a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more
C Commercial (CDL) which you can apply for if you are 18 or older to drive single unit vehicles that a Class E driver can drive plus buses and trucks that have a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,000 lbs. or less
D Operator which you can apply for if you are 18 or older or age 17 with Driver Education to drive passenger cars and trucks with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,000 lbs. or less, vehicles that tows another vehicle (for example a trailer) that has a maximum gross weight of 10,000 lbs. or less.
DJ Junior Operator which you can apply for if you are 16-17 years to drive passenger cars and trucks with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 10,000 lbs. or less and a vehicle that tows another vehicle (for example a trailer) with a GVWR of 3,000 lbs. or less.
Before you can get a license, you must apply for a learner permit at DMV office and take the written test. You can prepare by reading the New York State Driver's Manual and taking practice tests. Learn how to get a learner permit.
Once you have a learner permit, you must have supervised driving practice and you must take a pre-licensing course or a driver education course before you take your road test.
If you pass your test, the examiner will give you an interim license that allows you to drive. Keep the interim license with your photo learner permit until your new license arrives in the mail (in about 2 weeks).
See how to schedule and take a road test.
Fees depend on what you are applying for, your age, and where you live. Use the fee chart to estimate your fee.
See how to renew your license.
If you are under age 18 or are the parent of a driver under age 18, it is very important that you understand the Graduated Driver License (GDL) Law and the restrictions on drivers under age 18.
If you are 17, you are eligible for a senior driver license (Class D or M) if you have a junior driver license or limited junior driver license and have completed a state-approved high school or college driver education course. To change your junior license to a senior license, bring your junior license and the Student Certificate of Completion (MV-285) that you received from your instructor to any DMV office. You must return your certificate and junior license to receive the senior license. If you do not change your junior license to a senior license, you are subject to the restrictions for junior drivers until you are age 18, even if you carry the completion certificate with you. You can also give your certificate with your junior permit to the license examiner at your road test.
If you are not eligible for a senior license before you turn 18, you will automatically receive a senior license in the mail when you turn 18.
Once you pass your road test or restore a revoked driver license, you will have 6 month probationary period. During this time, your license will be suspended for 60 days if you are convicted of any the following
After the suspension ends, you will have a second 6 month probation period.
If you are convicted of one of the violations above (or 2 other moving violations) during the second probation period, your license will be revoked for at least 6 months. When the revocation ends, you must serve another a 6 month probationary period.
For a Class D, Class DJ, and Class E driver license, the expiration date of your learner permit becomes the expiration date of your driver license. Together the learner permit and the driver license are valid for a maximum of 5 years. When you apply for a learner permit and a driver license, you pay the fee for the length of time that the documents are valid.
For example, a learner permit that was issued to you in 2014 will be valid until your birthday in 2019. You pay the fee for a document that is valid for 5 years. If you pass your road test in 2017, your driver license will expire in 2019. Your driver license keeps the expiration date of your learner permit. When you a change from a Class DJ junior license to a Class D senior license, the date does not change.
You can drive in the U.S with a valid driver license from another country. You don’t need to apply for any State driver license unless you become a resident of that state.
If you choose to get a New York driver license (following the steps explained on this page), when you pass your road test, you must give your foreign driver license to the DMV road test examiner. The local DMV office will destroy your foreign driver license after 60 days. If you plan to return to your home country and will need your foreign driver license, ask the road test examiner how to make sure that your foreign driver license is not destroyed.