Obtaining a Driver's License

If you will be in the U.S. for more than one year and plan to drive while here, you should apply for a North Carolina driver’s license. If you will be in the U.S. for less than one year (i.e., the expiration date on your I-20 is less than one year away), you are not eligible for a driver’s license. However, you may drive with a valid home country license and international driving permit.


There are three exams required as part of the process: a medical exam (to be completed prior to going to the driver’s license center), a written exam (given at the driver’s license center), and finally a road test, where a North Carolina state officer will evaluate your driving ability. Those with a valid license from another U.S. state may be exempted from these exams.


You must take the following documentation with you to the driver’s license center:

  1. Driver’s License Letter from the Office of International Programs (available during our walk-in hours)
  2. Passport, I-94, and I-20
  3. Social Security card OR letter from the Social Security office stating you are not eligible for an SSN
  4. Two documents verifying your North Carolina address (e.g., lease agreement, electric bill, cable bill, or if you are a resident student – a letter from the Office of Residence Education)
  5. Driver’s license application form with medical exam section completed


Those who do not plan to drive, but will be here for more than one year, may wish to apply for a North Carolina state ID card. The card is a convenient, government-issued form of identification that you can use while in the US. The documentation required is the same as above but there no exams.


Please see the Department Of Motor Vehicles for the latest information on North Carolina driver’s licenses or state IDs.