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Driving in the U.S.

Many international students, employees, and visitors choose to drive while they are in the US. If you have a drivers license from your home country, you are able to drive in New York State! You may drive legally with your current drivers license and are not required to obtain a New York drivers license unless you become a resident of this state (students and other temporary visitors do not usually satisfy this definition).

Since most foreign drivers licenses are written in a language other than English, you may want to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) if you plan to drive in the US. This document is not a drivers license, but does offer a formal translation in several languages that you hold a valid license. You are not required to have the permit, but it can be particularly helpful if you are ever pulled over or in an accident. You can only apply for the IDP in your home country. If you do not have an IDP, you may get an authorized translation and carry it with your current drivers license as a precaution.

Access our handout Understanding Driver's Licenses & Traffic Laws in New York for more information on state requirements, guidance for drivers from other nations, local branches of the NY Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and basic traffic laws.