NEW STUDENTS and SCHOLARS: You must submit your arrival documents to ISSS and wait 10 days before you apply for a driver's license or non-driver identification card. The Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) databases can take up to 10 days to update after ISSS activates your SEVIS record. To avoid getting turned away from the DMV, submit your arrival documents to ISSS as soon as possible after arrival to the U.S., and wait at least 10 days before applying for a driver's license or non-driver identification card.
To drive in Connecticut you must have a Connecticut Driver’s license or one of the following:
- valid out-of-state (U.S.) driver’s license
- valid out-of-country driver’s license (from your home country) AND international driver’s permit (you must carry BOTH)
Driving with your Home Country License
Students and visitors in Connecticut can drive using their foreign license for up to one year. If your license is in a language other than Spanish or English, you must also carry an International Driver Permit (IDP) to legally drive with that license. The IDP is issued in the country that issued the driver’s license. If you do not have an IDP or your stay will exceed one year, you should plan to obtain the Connecticut Driver’s License.
Getting an Connecticut Driver's License
The Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles is the agency that issues the driver’s license and the non-driver Identification Card (state ID). You may want to consider getting a state ID if you want to have official U.S. identification so that you do not have to carry your passport around. Also, you will need to have a State ID in order to register a car that you own, if you do not have a CT Driver’s License. The DMV closest to Storrs campus is in Willimantic, and is located on the WRTD bus line. The closest DMV to Hartford is in Wethersfield. The closest DMV to Stamford is in Norwalk. The closest DMV to Avery Point is in Norwich.
Step 1: Complete ISSS Check In (New Students & Scholars)
ISSS will activate your SEVIS record after check-in. Your SEVIS record must be active at the time that you go to the Department of Motor Vehicles to apply for your driver’s permit. Wait at least 10 days after checking in with ISSS before you visit the DMV.
Step 2: Apply for Social Security Number
Visit the Social Security Administration to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN). F-1 and J-1 students must have legal employment to be approved for the SSN. If you are an F-1/J-1 student and you do not work, you will be issued a Social Security denial letter confirming that you are not eligible for the SSN. You need either the SSN or the denial letter for your DMV application.
Bring the following to Social Security office:
-I-94 admission printout
-Form I-20 or DS-2019
-F-1 and J-1 Students with employment: Job offer letter, and letter confirming employment from ISSS.
If you are applying for a State ID, go directly to DMV after completing this step to obtain your ID card, and bring the documents listed in Step 4.
Step 3: Safe Driving Program Course
Complete a mandatory 8-hour Safe Driving Course. This is a classroom based course that covers important driving safety rules. It is not a course that teaches you how to drive. Obtain certificate of completion when done. Please note that you can take this course at any point before the road test (Step 5).
AAA Driving School offers the course on the UConn Storrs campus once per month. Visit www.aaa.com/drivingschool to register.
If you live off-campus in a surrounding community, it may be more convenient to take the class at another local driving school. Local schools around Storrs campus include:
CC Driver Education - Tolland
All American Driver Education - Vernon. This school has a Chinese speaking instructor.
American Driving School - Manchester
EASTCONN Driver Education - Willimantic
Visit the DMV website for a list of other Commercial School Locations.
Step 4: Written Test and Adult Learner’s Permit
Schedule an appointment with the Department of Motor Vehicles for a written test and Adult Learner’s Permit. Download the CT DMV Mobile App to find practice learner permit tests. You must hold the learner’s permit for 90 days before you can move on to the next step (road test). With your learner’s permit, you may only drive in the company of someone who is at least 20 years old, and who has had a license for at least 4 years, without suspension.
If you have a current or previous license from your home country, or a previous U.S. license, the 90‐day waiting period may be waived. You must provide that license (even if expired) in order to be waived the 90-day waiting period.
Bring the following to your appointment:
-I‐94 admission printout
-Form I‐20 or DS‐2019
-Social Security Card or Social Security office denial letter (from Step 2)
-Certified school transcript or Marriage Certificate (if you don’t have a Social Security card). Must be translated by an approved translation company if not in English.
-Two documents to show proof that you live in CT (refer to list).
Fees: $40 Testing Fee, $19 for Learner’s Permit
NOTE: When you apply for a driver’s license or state ID, the DMV must verify your immigration status to complete the application. To do this, they use a program called the SAVE Program. If they cannot verify your status they will advise you that your request cannot be completed. They should give you a 15 digit verification number that you can use to check the progress of your case online. You can use that number to check your case here and wait until the status has been verified to return to the DMV for your learner’s permit. You may also be advised to visit your school – visit ISSS during Walk‐In hours to check that your SEVIS record is active, which is required for SAVE.
Step 5: On the Road Skills Test
After you have had the learner’s permit for 90 days, you can schedule an appointment online to take a road (driving) test. You will need to bring a car for the road test. Some driving schools will allow you to rent a car to bring for your road test. The DMV website lists documents to bring, and resources to prepare for the Road Test. Cost: $40.
Step 6: Get your License!
Your license will be mailed to you. Please be sure you can receive mail at the address indicated on your application. Cost: $72. Cost of Non-Driver Identification card: $22.50.
For License/ID information go to “Driver’s License and ID’s” > “New” > “Non-US Citizens”
Transferring your License from another U.S. State, or France, Germany and Canada
If you have a license from another U.S. state, or if you have a valid French, German or Canadian driver’s license, you may “transfer” this license to a CT license.
Licenses should be transferred within 30 days of establishing residency in Connecticut and must be valid, or recently expired (within two years). If your out-of-state license expired more than two years ago, you must obtain the Learners Permit and take the 8 Hour Safe Driving Course.
Full time students living in Connecticut but maintaining out of state or out of country permanent residency are not required to transfer the license to Connecticut, provided full time student status is maintained.
Bring to the DMV the following:
- Your current driver’s license
- Complete the application for the Non-Commercial Driver’s License (Form R-229)
- I-94 admission printout
- Form I-20 or DS-2019
- Social Security Card or Social Security office denial letter (from Step 2)
- Certified school transcript or Marriage Certificate (if you don’t have a Social Security card)
- Two documents to show proof that you live in CT (refer to list)
- Application fee = $40. License Fee: $72. Cards are accepted for payment. If paying by check, bring two separate checks
Learning to Drive
If you are over the age of 18, you are not required to attend formal driving lessons. However, if you have never driven an automobile, we strongly recommend that you take driving lessons. Many of the same schools that offer the 8 Hour Safe Driving course also offer driving lessons. Visit the DMV website for a list of other Commercial School Locations.
Owning a Car
Car owners have many responsibilities and expenses. Some students purchase a car used from a private owner, and others may purchase a new or used car from a dealership. Whichever route you choose, do your research! Review car value estimates on websites like Carfax or Kelley Blue Book to ensure you are paying a fair price. Bring a friend with you to look at the car. Ask questions and take the car for a test drive.
Other considerations for owning car:
- All car owners are legally required to maintain insurance for the vehicle. Liability insurance covers only the expenses associated with damages you cause to another driver/car. Comprehensive insurance will cover expenses for both yourself, and any damage you caused to another person/vehicle. If you make car payments to a dealership, you must carry comprehensive insurance, which is more expensive.
- Your insurance will be cheaper if you have a Connecticut license, and more expensive if you drive with your home country license and IDP.
- You must register your car with the DMV, and keep that registration valid while you drive the car. You are required to have either a CT Driver’s License or a State ID in order to register your card.
- You will pay a car tax in the town that where you live. Car tax bills will be sent to you in the summer. You are responsible for paying your car tax, even if you go home in the summer. You have to pay the car tax, even if you no longer live in that town at the time that you receive the bill.