Step by step, how to get a driver’s license in California as a tourist


Like Florida, the state of California allows tourists to obtain a valid temporary license during their stay.

Like Florida, the state of California allows tourists to obtain a valid temporary license during their stay.

Photo: Africa Studio / Shutterstock

Although many states allow tourists to drive with a license issued in their country of origin, it is important to note that this concession is temporary. and is normally associated with the rental of a car that will be operated during a short stay. In this sense, if a visitor plans to stay longer in the country (exceeding the maximum of 3 months) it will be necessary to try to obtain a temporary license for tourists, a type of document that is only granted in certain states such as California.

How to get a tourist driver鈥檚 license in California?

Like Florida, Nevada and other states, California grants tourists who request it a temporary license aimed at their non-resident status that will allow you to drive a vehicle for the duration of your stay. This license must be requested at a local office of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) consigning the following documents:

1. Form I-94, which is obtained by entering the information requested by the system of the official website of the Department of Homeland Security.

2. Valid and current passport issued in the country of origin with the corresponding visa that has been granted by the United States government.

3. Valid driver鈥檚 license or permit in the country of origin.

4. Two documents that serve to prove place of residence in the state and postal address.

As has already been said, the application process must be done at a local California DVM office once all documents are collected and will involve the presentation of a theoretical test and a practical test. The first consists of questions based on the state driver鈥檚 manual and the second is necessary for the driver to demonstrate his skills in front of an expert DMV examiner.

The duration of the license will depend on the information provided by the I-94 form.which contains the limit date of stay for each person visiting the United States on a tourist visa. Although it is issued by the DMV and approved by the government, the document resulting from this type of request will bear a legend indicating that it is temporary and must be accompanied by a valid driver鈥檚 license in the country of origin, in case it is necessary to prove identity.

In addition to the tourist license, what other options do I have to be able to drive in California as a visitor?

In addition to being able to drive with the license of the country of origin or with a license issued by the DMV for tourists, a visitor can also make use of an International Driving Permit (IDP)a document that is also issued in your country of origin and that actually works like a certified translation of your driver鈥檚 license. Like the previous options, it is important that this document is used accompanied by a valid license, since by itself it is not valid in the country.

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