Driving In Connecticut

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Getting a Connecticut Driver's License

Here are some considerations when deciding whether or not to get the CT state driver’s license:

  • Serves as official identification for many other purposes besides driving, such as check cashing, domestic air travel and proof of age for purchasing alcohol or tobacco products, or entering bars. If you don’t plan to drive at all you could get an official non-driver’s ID from the DMV.
  • Plan ahead. It can take weeks or even months to get an appointment during busy times, and appointment dates are not transferable. Try different DMV locations to see which branch has the earliest appointment date.
  • May entitle you to reduced rates on your car insurance. (Although it will still be expensive!)
  • Driving regulations are particular to each U.S. state. Not every state will recognize your home country driver’s license, but it will recognize a license from any other U.S. state.
  • 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 for the duration of a valid student visa or, without student status, for up to one year from the date of entry. 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. 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.
  • A valid license from Canada, Germany or France is treated the same as an out-of-state license. Once you have established residency in Connecticut, you have 30 days to transfer your out-of-state license to a Connecticut license.

What You Need to Obtain the License

dmvThis information applies to first-time applicants as well as those who are transferring their out-of-state license. It is important to remember to check the DMV Web site for an up-to-date list of what to bring with you to your appointment. State regulations can (and often do) change at any time. Here is some important information you will want to know beforehand:

  • Passing a knowldege test and a road test are necessary to get the license for most applicants. Everyone needs to take an eye test.
  • Knowledge tests are can be given in the following languages: Bosnian, Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Korean, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, or Vietnamese.
  • U.S. Social Security Card. If you are eligible to receive an SSN, then you will need to have it for your DMV application. If you are not eligible for an SSN, as in the example of an F-2 or H-4 visa holder, then you will need to obtain a form from the DMV, which you will take to the Social Security Office, who then will issue you a letter confirming your ineligibility.
  • Valid Visa Documents. You must have some time remaining on your stay in the U.S. as noted by the end date on your visa document such as the I-20 or the DS-2019. At the time of this writing, the amount of time required was being negotiated within the DMV, so you may wish to inquire there if you have any questions.
  • Letter from the OISS. Visit the OISS to obtain a DMV letter verifying your status at Yale. You may request this letter at the OISS reception desk, and normally it will be done while you wait.
  • Bring a recent photo with you when you go to your first DMV appointment. It can be any photo as long as it is clear. It will not be returned, but will be kept with your file for identification purposes.
  • A properly registered and insured vehicle appropriate for the type of test you are taking is necessary. Daily rentals are not allowed on road tests.
  • Acceptable forms of payment are: cash, money orders, personal checks and bank checks. No credit or debit cards accepted at the DMV.
  • The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can be reached by car or take the M3 bus to Hamden from Elm and Temple.

Non-Driver Photo Identification Card

This card, also available from the DMV, serves as an official identification card for CT residents who will not be seeking a CT state driver’s license, and who do not hold a driver’s license from any other U.S. state. There is an application fee of $15, payable in cash only. The same as with a driver’s license application, remember to bring a letter from the OISS verifying your status at Yale, and check the DMV Web site for a current list of the other required documents you will need to have.


Practical Matters

Contact Information


1985 State St, Hamden
Closed on Sunday, Monday and federal
[map this address]

If you experience difficulties at the DMV, it is best to be polite and then visit the OISS to speak with an adviser, who will try to assist you.

If it snows on your driving test day

Call the DMV (1-800-842-8222) to confirm that they will be open. Your written test is likely to be held as scheduled in light snow and you should make every effort to keep your appointment. The DMV may suggest rescheduling the driving portion of your test depending on current road conditions.

More Resources

Driving Schools

Need practice driving on U.S. roads before you take the driving test? There are several local Driving Schools which can help you prepare. Research which of these might be best for you:


AAA Auto Club

AAA (pronounced: “triple A”) is a national club that provides excellent services for car owners including 24 hour roadside assistance, towing, free maps, discounted rates for travel and car-related services, repair referrals, car safety check clinics and more. Members can also purchase discounted movie tickets for local area theaters.

AAA Connecticut Motor Club
2276 Whitney Ave,
Hamden, 765-4222