Office of International Education
New York State Driver's License
For international students, scholars, and employees, your eligibility to apply for a New York State license is tied to your program dates. Your authorized status in the U.S. must have a total duration of at least one year, AND you must have at least 6 months remaining before the current expiration date.
The application process is fairly simple, but can take several months to obtain your official New York State drivers license. You must first obtain a Learner's Permit, which involves a written test and eye exam, followed by the completion of an authorized driver safety course and then pass a road test. If you already have a license from another U.S. state, these requirements may be waived. For more details and links to required forms, please visit the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles online.
Step 1: Study the NYS Driver’s Manual
The NYS Driver’s Manual prepares for your driver’s test. You can access it online or request a copy from the DMV. Study the manual as much as possible. You do not want to fail your written test and have to take it (and pay for it) over again.
Step 2: Submit the Application and Fee
Submit the necessary application forms and fee to a local DMV branch office. You must have 6 points of identification and bring either a U.S. Social Security Card or a letter of ineligibility from the Social Security Administration issued less than 30 days before. Acceptable proofs of identity and date of birth are established by the DMV and may change. You should read their website carefully and make sure that you have the proofs needed to submit your application.
Step 3: Pass the Written Test
Pass the written test to receive your Learner's Permit. The written test is based on the safety information and traffic laws in the Driver’s Manual. Typically the test is not that long, but it is very important that you are well-prepared for the test. It would be a shame to have to take it twice.
Step 4: Complete Pre-Licensing Course
You must complete a mandatory 5-hour mandatory pre-licensing course. You will receive a certificate of completion, which is needed to schedule your road test. You will need this certificate in order to be eligible to take the road test in the future.
Step 5: Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice for your road test. You may drive with your Learner's Permit as long as you have a licensed driver 21 years or older to supervise you. DMV recommends that new drivers have at least 50 hours of driving (15 at night), if not more, before taking their road test.
Step 6: Schedule Your Road Test
Schedule your road-test by phone or online, using the certificate of completion for your pre-licensing course. You must bring a vehicle to complete the road test and have proper documentation to show that it is registered and passed inspection. This is often forgotten and if not done properly could lead to you not being able to take the test on that day.
Step 7: Success!
Once you successfully pass the road test, you will receive a temporary license to keep with your permit. The official Driver’s License will be mailed within a few weeks. Make sure that the DMV has your most updated address.
Although OIE is not an expert in driving instructions or teaching, please don’t be afraid to reach out to OIE if you have any questions about driving in the U.S. As said earlier, this can be often very different than what you may be used to and thus difficult. It is always best to be safe and certain rather than assuming. You can always reach OIE at firstname.lastname@example.org.