Driving

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Apply for the International Driver’s Permit (IDP)

A valid driver’s license from your home country when carried with an International Driver's Permit, will allow you to legally drive in the state of Connecticut for up to one year. In order to drive beyond the one-year period, you will need to apply for a CT driver’s license.

Keep in mind that one is not considered valid without the other, and the International Driver’s Permit is only obtainable from your home country prior to departure. Contact your home country issuing authority to secure your IDP.

If you forget to obtain this permit in your home country, you are not allowed to drive in the U.S. on your home country’s license. You will need to apply for a CT driver's license which can be a lengthy process.

How to obtain a Connecticut State Driver’s License

Plan ahead. It can take weeks or even months to get an appointment during busy times, and appointment dates are not transferable.

 

1

Check-in with the OISS BEFORE you visit the DMV

The OISS must activate your SEVIS record before you apply for a CT driver's license. You cannot apply for a driver's license prior to the start date noted on your visa document (eg. Form I-20 or DS 2019.) You will also need to have your I-94 card, or print a new I-94 number.

Note: Applicants should carefully review the guidance on downloading a copy of their I-94 record of US entry, as you must present a copy of this when you apply for a CT license or ID.

If you have completed your studies and are currently authorized for F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT), or J-1 Academic Training (AT), you may only apply for a CT driver's license during the approved period of OPT or AT, not before it begins.

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2

For short-term visitors

Applicants with a status that expires in less than 12 months may have an issue applying for the license. This is at the discretion of the DMV.

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3

Apply for a Social Security Number

A SSN is required for the CT driver's license application. SSN application instructions can be found on the OISS Web site.

If you are not eligible for a U.S. Social Security Number (SSN) you will need to go to the Social Security Office (150 Court Street, 4th Floor) and obtain a letter from them stating your are not eligible to receive a SSN. You must present this letter to the DMV when you apply for your CT driver's license.

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4

Are you a citizen of Canada, Germany or France?

Citizens of Canada, Germany, and France may transfer their home country driving license to a CT license through the "Transfer Your Out-of-State License process."

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5

Review the CT DMV Web site

The DMV Web site provides the most up-to-date information on what is required to apply for a driver's license (and other processes, such as car registration). You should go to the DMV well prepared, carrying all items that are listed/required.

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6

Make sure your name and date of birth match on ALL documents

ALL your supporting documents must use the same name and the same date of birth. Failure to have matching information may create a significant delay in the processing of your application.

In addition, before DMV will allow an international applicant to complete the application process, they are required to run a check through a government program, which compiles data on records from a variety of immigration databases. Government delays in entering point of entry information for international visitors can impact this process. In the past, it might take anywhere from as quick as a few hours to as long as 30 days. Recent developments in online data entry may extend the time-frame to significantly longer than 30 days.

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7

Accompanying dependents who wish to apply for a CT driver's license must comply with all of the requirements as noted on the DMV web site. In addition, it is strongly recommended that the primary status holder accompany the dependent to the DMV with their own documents.

This information is intended to help you as you navigate the CT DMV process. Although the OISS cannot influence the DMV’s decision to issue a driver’s license or other DMV benefit, please do let us know if you run in to a particular situation where you feel you have provided all requested documentation and the DMV is unwilling assist you. In order for OISS to look in to a particular problem situation we will need to know on what date you applied, at what DMV branch, and specifically what the problem is and what you were told. 

 

Transportation

Related links

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Car Ownership

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Car Rental

DMV Information

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Driving Schools

All-Star Driver
Various locations throughout Connecticut
800-732-8090

New Haven Driver
59 Amity Road, Suite 4
203-823-0505

Phil’s Driving School
212 Main Street, East Haven
2011 Route 80, North Branford
203-467-5639

More Resources

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