Many visitors to US have the need to drive on his own. This is especially true for western states where not much viable public transportation is available in most of the areas. However, it is a tricky question to answer: “How can I drive legally in such and such state”?
If you browse through the internet, you finds many different versions of answers. That’s because it really depends on the states and where your own driver’s license was issued. For the visitors come from countries that issue International Driving Permit (IDP), which is identification that contains your name, photo, and driver information translated into 10 languages, you would want to get an IDP before your trip. Here is a list of states that allow Chinese driver’s license to drive legally (China does not issue IDP).
1，Alabama: Yes, 16/+
2，Alaska: Yes, 90 days，16/+
4，Arkansas: No，IDP required
5，California: Yes, 18+
6，Colorado: Yes, 16+
7，Connecticut: No, IDP required
8，Delaware: Yes, 16+
9，Florida: Yes, 16+
11，Hawaii: No, IDP required
14，Indiana: Yes, 16.5+
17，Kentucky: No，IDP required
18，Louisiana: Yes, 90 days
19，Maine: Yes, 16+
23，Minnesota: Yes, 15+
24，Mississippi: Yes, 60 days, 18+
25，Missouri: Yes, 16+
26，Montana: Yes, 15+
27，Nebraska: Yes, 30 days
28，Nevada: Yes, 16+
29，New Hampshire: No
30，New Jersey: No
31，New Mexico: Yes, 15+
32，New York: Yes
33，North Dakota: Yes, 16+
35，Oklahoma: Yes, 16+
36，Oregan: Yes, 16+
37，Pennsylvania: Yes, 16+
38，Rhode Island:, Yes, 16+
39，North Carolina: Yes, 16+
40，South Dakota: Yes, 16+
43，Utah: Yes, 6 months, 16+
45，Virginia: Yes, 16.25+
46，Washington：Yes, 1 Year, 16+
47，West Virginia: Yes, 90 days, 16+
48，Wisconsin: No, IDP required
49， Wyoming: Yes
50，Washington DC: Yes, 30 days
(Note, based on 2014 information. For updated information, please refer to DMV for each state)
In many states such as Arizona, California, Florida, your own foreign driver’s license will be work just fine. However, in states such as Texas, driving with foreign driver’s license is illegal (except a handful of countries with IDP, http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/driverlicense/movingtotexas.htm )
So the only way to drive legally in Texas for visitors is to obtain a Texas driver’s license.
For visitors, your license will be valid for your legal stay in US (See here for details).
If an applicant is not aU.S. citizen, U.S. national, lawful permanent resident, refugee, or asylee, then the expiration date for the driver license or identification card will be based on the expiration date of the applicant’s lawful presence in the U.S. as determined by the appropriate U.S. agency in compliance with federal law.
It is always daunting at the thought of dealing with the DMV in any country. However, once you figure out what need to be done, it could actually turn out very simple.
Here are the steps you need to take to obtain a Texas license as visitor:
Step 1: Pass one of the 6 hours Adult Driver Education (18+)
You can do it online of in local classroom listed here: https://www.txdps.state.tx.us/DriverLicense/DriverEducationChecklist.htm
Step 2: Apply for Driving Permit at local DMV
Once you obtain the certificate from the Driver Ed, you could bring it to apply for driving permit. You need to take your legal ID documents to the local DMV. Look at here for the documents needed:
Step 3: Get your driving license after road test.
It took me quite some time browsing through TxDPS website and confirm with people in similar situation to figure out what is actually working.
Good luck with your application process.