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Driver's License / California ID

Should I get a Driver’s License or a California State ID card?

If you want to drive, consider getting a driver’s license.

If you do not wish to drive, you may want to consider getting a California State ID card. An ID card can be presented as an official form of identification in any situation where your age or identity needs to be verified.

Obtaining a Driver’s License

If you are visiting for less than 6 months, you can use your driver’s license from your home country.

If you will be in the US for more than 6 months, it is appropriate to apply for a driver’s license with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

If you wish to apply for a California driver’s license you will need to complete the following steps.


Obtaining a Driver’s License

Obtaining a California ID


Visit the DMV. You can visit any location during business hours but for faster services, appointments can be made online at A list of local DMV offices is below.


Apply and submit the following documents:

  • SSN


  • I-20/DS-2019
  • Passport
  • Important.

If you do not have a Social Security number: tell the DMV that you “are not eligible” for a Social Security number. They will then verify your legal status using your I-20/DS-2019 and passport as well as by verifying that your SEVIS record is “active.” Your SEVIS record should be active within 30 days of presenting your immigration documents to our office. In general, it is best to wait 30 days after your International Student Orientation at Santa Clara.


Pass a vision test. This test is administered at the DMV during your appointment.

Pay the Application Fee.


Pay the application fee.


Pass a written test. There are 36 questions on the test and you are given 3 opportunities to pass.


Pass a behind the wheel driving test. This test requires a separate appointment.


DMV Locations

Santa Clara

3665 Flora Vista Ave

Santa Clara, CA 93051

(800) 777-0133

Hours Mon, Tue, Thur and Fri – 8-5

Wed – 9-5

San Jose

111 W Alma Ave

San Jose, CA 95110

(800) 777-0133

Hours Mon, Tue, Thur and Fri – 8-5

Wed – 9-5

Los Gatos

600 N Santa Cruz Ave

Los Gatos, CA 95030

(800) 777-0133

Hours Mon, Tue, Thur and Fri – 8-5

Wed – 9-5

International students may also apply for membership in the Zipcar driving service. Instructions and eligibility requirements are available on their website.

US immigration regulations are complex and change frequently.  The University strives to maintain a website that is both current and helpful, however, Santa Clara University is not responsible for students maintaining lawful immigration status; this is the responsibility of the student.  Further, resources and links do not constitute endorsement by Santa Clara University.