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Obtaining a U.S. Driver's License or ID card

Driver’s licenses and state identification (ID) cards are issued by the state in which you reside; the laws for each state are different. You may obtain a Virginia driver’s license or state ID card from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Students: If you are a full-time student and have a valid foreign license, you may drive with that. If you are employed in the US, you must obtain a Virginia license within 60 days.

Scholars: You can drive with your valid foreign license for no more than 6 months. If you plan to continue driving in the US after 6 months, you must obtain a Virginia license. However, if you are employed in the US, you must obtain a Virginia license within 60 days.

Required Documents

People who want to apply for a driver's license, learner's permit, or state ID card will need to present the following documents to the DMV:

  • Two proofs of identity
  • One proof of legal presence
  • One proof of Virginia residency
  • One proof of Social Security number (if you have been issued one)

All documents must be originals.

Proof of Identity
Applicants must present two proofs of identity. Documents submitted must show your full legal name and date of birth. They may both come from the primary list of documents, or one from the primary list and the other one from the secondary list.

Primary Documents

  • Unexpired foreign passport with an unexpired or expired visa and valid I-94 card or print out (accessible at www.cbp.gov/I94).
  • Unexpired U.S. or Canadian driver's license or learner's/instruction permit (with photo), not less than 60 days old.
  • Unexpired photo ID card, not less than 60 days old, issued by a U.S. state.

Secondary Documents

  • I-20
  • DS-2019
  • Form I-797 (if applicable)
  • Certified copy of school records/transcript issued by William & Mary

Legal Presence
Applicants must present one proof of legal presence. Accepted documents include:

  • Unexpired foreign passport with an unexpired or expired visa and a valid I-94 card or print out (accessible at www.cbp.gov/I94).
  • Holders of F1/F2 visas must present a valid I-20.
  • Holders of J1/J2 visas must present a valid DS-2019.
  • Form I-797 (applicant's name must appear on the form).

Proof of Virginia Residency
Applicants must present one proof of Virginia Residency. Accepted documents must show the current street address (not PO Box, CSU Box, or GSH box) and include:

  • Unexpired Virginia driver's license or Virginia state ID card.
  • Residential rental/lease agreement.
  • Payroll check stub issued by an employer within the last two months.
  • U.S. Internal Revenue Service tax reporting W-2 form or 1099 form (not more than 18 months old).
  • U.S. or Virginia tax return from the previous year.
  • Original monthly bank statement not more than two months old, issued by a bank.
  • Utility bill, not more than two months old, issued to applicant (examples include gas, electric, sewer, water, cable or phone bill). Cellular phone and pager bill are not accepted.
  • Official transcript from William & Mary (can be obtained from the Registrar's Office).  There is a $7 fee for this. For new students, the earliest you can obtain this is after the add/drop period of that semester. When requesting the transcript, list your physical address on the form, as what you list will be printed on the transcript.
  • Current automobile or life insurance bill (cards or policies are not accepted).
  • Change of address confirmation from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) of postmarked U.S. mail with forwarding address label. This only works if you previously had another U.S. address. You can request an address change online ($1) or in person (free), and the Postal Service will mail you an address confirmation.

Proof of Social Security Number (you need one from this list only if you have a Social Security Number)
Applicants must present one proof of SSN only if they have been issued a SSN.

  • Social security card (Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers are not accepted).
  • U.S. Internal Revenue Service tax reporting W-2 form or 1099 form.
  • Payroll check stub issued by employer.
State Identification (ID) Card Application Process

If you want just an ID card (does not allow you to drive but is useful when proving age for buying alcohol), you can obtain one with the documents above. The fee is $10.

Driver's License Application Process


If you have never had a driver's license (in any state or country):

If you are 19 years old or older, you must provide proof of successful completion of a state-approved driver education program or you must have held a learner's permit at least 60 days before you can take the road skills test. When applying for a driver's license, you must complete an application (form DL 1M). You may complete this form before or after coming to the DMV.

If you are under age 19, you must complete a state-approved driver education program and hold your Virginia learner's permit for at least nine months.

If you have a license from another state or country:

Regardless of age,  you may be required to take a written test, or take both a written and driving test, depending on the country that issued your license. (You will need to ask directly at the DMV.)

If you have a license from another U.S. state, Canada, Germany, or France, then you may simply obtain a Virginia license by completing the application and paying the fee. Licenses from other U.S. states or Canada will be invalidated when you receive your Virginia license.

The driver's license will be issued for the period listed on your I-20 or DS-2019, not to exceed 5 years. The cost of the license is $4 for each year issued, minimum fee is $20.

Renewing Your Driver's License or ID card After Graduation

See our DMV handout (pdf).

For additional information, contact:

Department of Motor Vehicles Customer Service Center (Williamsburg Office)
952 Capitol Landing Rd, Williamsburg, VA 23185-4327
(804) 497-7100
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday - Friday, 8am to 12pm Saturday, except holidays.

Directions to the DMV by Bus

Take the Orange Line of the Williamsburg Area Transport (free with your student ID).

You can catch the bus at the Williamsburg Transportation Center (468 North Boundary Street, between the post office and the fire department) and get off directly at the DMV stop. The bus ride takes approximately ten minutes to the DMV but will take 20 -30 minutes on the return.

More information on bus routes; Google Maps also has an option to search for routes using public transportation.

DMV at William & Mary

The Reves Center typically arranges for the DMV to come to campus in early September so students and scholars can obtain driver's licenses and state ID cards.  Once scheduled, information about this event is emailed to the international student and scholar listservs.