Obtaining a Driver License
If you have a valid International Driver’s License or a valid driver’s license from another U.S. state, you may drive a car in Ohio for up to one year from the date of your arrival in the U.S. Your I-20 or DS-2019 must have been issued for a duration of time that exceeds one year in order to obtain an Ohio Drivers License. However, if you purchase a car and register it in your name, or if you do not have a valid driver’s license from Ohio, the procedure for obtaining an Ohio Driver’s license is as follows:
- Get a copy of the Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws from any Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
- Visit the nearest Deputy Registrar Office to get a temporary permit application packet. A fee will be charged, and you will need to bring identification with you.
- Go to the nearest Ohio Highway Patrol driver’s license exam station to take a vision test and a written test on Ohio motor vehicle regulations and traffic signs. After you pass the written test, you will be issued a temporary instruction permit, which authorizes you to practice for your road test only when there is a licensed driver seated in the front seat.
- When you have developed your driving skills well enough, contact the nearest exam station to schedule a road test.
- In order to be issued a license, a foreign national must present:
- Valid passport;
- U.S. visa;
- I-94 card;
- One of the following: An I-20, or a DS-2019 along with original letter from a recognized Ohio business or institution stating that the individual is affiliated with (i.e., employed by or attending), or a dependent, of the institution or business;
Note: UC Students and scholars should submit the appropriate Driver's License Letter Request Form in the iBearcatsGlobal database.
- The foreign national must show he or she will reside, or has resided, in Ohio for 12 months, which can normally be proven using the above documentation; and
- Each applicant must state whether or not a permanent Social Security number has been assigned. However, a permanent number is not required to be issued a driver’s license. Foreign nationals who will not reside in Ohio for more than 12 months can drive on an international driver’s license.
More detailed information about getting an Ohio driver’s license and license plates can be found in the Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws. (also available in Español and Somali). You can also find information for new Ohio residents who hold a valid driver’s license from another state and want to get an Ohio driver’s license in the Digest. Please make sure you purchase auto insurance. It’s against the law to drive without it!
In order to obtain license plates for a car, you will be required to show proof that you have auto insurance. Many companies offer a variety of auto insurance policies, so you should "shop around". When you have selected a policy, read it creafully before signing any documents. The following companies offer auto insurance.