Driver’s Licenses

Find out the steps to follow in obtaining a New York State driver’s license.

On this page:

Foreign Driver’s Licenses

Can I buy car insurance and register my car in New York State if I only have a foreign driver's license?

Yes, you can do both. HOWEVER,

  • Car insurance, which is mandatory in New York State, may be more expensive if you don't have a U.S. driver's license.
  • Insurance companies often add a surcharge to the cost of your insurance if you don't have a U.S. driver's license (the "Inexperienced Driver" surcharge).
  • Some automobile insurers believe that you need a NYS driver's license.

We recommend that you obtain a NYS driver's license if you are eligible.

Will I be able to rent a car if I only have my foreign driver's license?

Yes. But, rental car companies may have their own requirements (e.g. minimum age), which you must satisfy. 

New York State Driver’s License

When I get to the U.S., will I be eligible to apply for a New York State driver's license?

You will be eligible to apply for a NYS driver's license if you have one of the following documents and it is still valid:

  • I-20 or
  • DS-2019 or
  • H-1B approval notice (I-797)

How do I apply for a NYS driver's license?

1. Study the New York State “Driver's Manual”.

This is the “rules of the road” book. When you drive in NYS, you are expected to know, and abide by, these rules.

2. Go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), fill out the application and pay the fee for the Driver's License

You must bring proof of your name AND proof of your date of birth to complete this application. (Please see the requirements below.) Note: NYS driver’s license fee rates for first-time drivers in the U.S. are available at the DMV website (look for your age under Class D driver’s license).

3. Take a written test and eye exam

The written test is based on the information in the Manual. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, please wear them for the eye exam.

4. Complete a 5-hour “mandatory pre-licensing course”

Look online to find out where you can take this course.

5. Pass a road test

After you have completed steps #1-4, you may make an appointment for a road test when you are ready to be tested.

What kind of documents can I show that will prove my name?

To prove your name, you must show 6 points of identification from the following list:

  • (3 points) Passport. Your passport must be in English. You must also provide your: 1) U.S. Visa, 2) valid I-20 or DS-2019, and 3) valid I-94 or Admission Stamp in passport
  • (2 points) U.S. Social Security Card. If you are not eligible for a Social Security number, you must get a letter from the Social Security Office (see below for link to directions) stating that you are ineligible for a Social Security number.  The letter of ineligibility does not have any point value, but is required. Note: The Social Security letter must not be more than 30 days old at the time of application.
  • (2 points) Your UB Student ID Card + UB enrollment verification* or UB transcript OR (1 point) Your UB Staff / Faculty ID Card
  • (1 point) Valid Major U.S. Credit Card
  • (1 point) U.S. Cash Card (ATM) (must have your signature and preprinted name)
  • (1 point) U.S. Supermarket Bonus / Check Cashing Card (must have signature and pre-printed name, Note: Wegman's Bonus Cards are acceptable)
  • (1 point) U.S Health Insurance / Prescription Card
  • (2 points) Photo Driver's License issued by another U.S. state (not expired for more than 12 months)
  • (1 point) U.S. Utility Bill (must have your name and address)
  • (1 point) U.S. Bank Statement (with your name and address)
  • (1 point) U.S. Computer Printed Pay Stub (must have your name)
    Note: If your U.S. Credit Card, Bank Statement and ATM Cash Card were all issued by the same bank, they only count as one point.

Directions for Obtaining Enrollment Verification

  1. Go to myub.buffalo.edu
  2. Click on HUB Student Center tab
  3. Under Academics, select “Enrollment Verification” from the dropdown menu located to the left of your class schedule. Then press >> button.
  4. You will be directed to a page with a link for the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) Student-Service Web Site.
  5. Disable your pop-up blocker (if necessary) and click on the link.
  6. A new window will open offering you a choice of options. Select the type of enrollment certificate you would like (We recommend “All enrollment”.). Then click on “Obtain an enrollment certificate” link.
  7. A new window will open with your Enrollment Verification Certificate. You can print, save or e-mail the certificate.

What kind of documents can I show that will prove my date of birth?

To prove your date of birth, you must submit one of the following:

  • Your Foreign Passport, U.S. Visa and I-94 OR Admission Stamp (in passport). Your passport must be in English. If your passport is not in English, you should get a certified translation from your country's Embassy or Consulate
  • Refugee Travel Document (I-571)

Directions to the Social Security Office

Directions to the DMV