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Super Admin      Feb 01, 2024

Driving license: What You Should Know As An International Student?

When studying abroad as an international student, you may choose to drive depending on your needs, preferences, and university location.

All overseas students are not required to drive while attending university, but if you do want to, you'll need to be ready and complete the appropriate paperwork to get you on the road safely and with the proper license.

It's crucial to examine the precise criteria for the country you're relocating to because driving laws vary significantly between nations, from which side of the road you drive on to how to pass a driving test.

This is our guide for foreign students who desire to obtain a driving permit or license for the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, or Australia.

What is an international driver's license?

A multilingual translation of your driver's license that is accepted by many overseas jurisdictions is known as an international driving permit (IDP). It is not the license to drive.

An International Driver's Permit is required for those who wish to drive overseas. Tourists traveling to other nations are required to have the International Driver's Permit, an official travel document approved by the UN. It is an authentic translation of your native country's issued driver's license. The document certifies that you have a valid driver's license and provides translations of your licensing paperwork into a variety of languages so that foreign authorities may confirm and comprehend your driving qualifications.

In some nations, you can utilize it to have your domestically issued driver's license recognized when driving overseas. Since an IDP can only be obtained from the nation that awarded your license, you must apply for one before you go abroad to pursue your education.

It is advisable to conduct your research based on the nation that gave your license and the country you plan to use it since while applying for IDP is typically straightforward and inexpensive, the prices and process do differ from country to country.

United Kingdom

You might be eligible to drive in the UK using a driving license that you already possess from a country other than the UK. For as long as the license is in good standing, permits granted in an EU or EEA nation may be utilized in the UK.

You may drive in the UK for up to 12 months with a license from a "designated nation or territory" (IDP), but you must request to convert it for a GB permit within 5 years of moving here.

Andorra, Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, Zimbabwe, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Republic of North Macedonia, Singapore, South Africa, and Andorra are among the nations that have been designated.

Additionally, you may use this helpful tool on the government website to learn more about what you must do to drive in the UK with your home license.

If your driver's license isn't from one of the countries listed or you don't currently have one, you'll need to apply for a temporary license, take the driving test, and then apply for a full license after passing. Anyone seeking a full license or taking a driving test in Northern Ireland who does not already have one must have been enrolled in classes there for at least six months previous to doing so.

The UK driving exam includes both a practical driving evaluation and a knowledge test covering your understanding of the UK Highway Code. In England, Scotland, and Wales, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) issues driving permits; in Northern Ireland, the Driver and Vehicle Agency Northern Ireland does the same. The DVLA may suspend your license if you fail to adhere to the conditions of your visa.

United States of America

Depending on the state you want to drive in, a driving license may be granted or recognized in the US. The best course of action is to locate the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) in your state and review its detailed criteria.

As an international student, you might not be able to apply for your state license right once since it has to be in good standing in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. This is only enabled after you get there, and the processing time is up to 10 days. To avoid having your application for a license immediately refused, it is advised to wait two weeks after arriving.

The following is required of you:

  • I-20 form
  • Your passport, which is valid and has the necessary entry stamps for the US
  • utility or bank statement with your US address on it
  • Your Social Security Number or a letter indicating that you are ineligible for Social Security
  • The DL-1/93, your school enrollment form
  • a US visa and other necessary documentation, all of which must be valid for at least 160 days
  • I-94 form
  • Money for fees

Before you may drive in the US, you must apply for a license in the state where you are attending school and pass an exam. Again, it's best to check with your local DMV or RMV to see what is required as tests are organized at the state level.


If your license from your home country is still valid, you are allowed to drive in Australia as an international student. Of course, if you have been given a complete, current Australian driver's license, you are also permitted to drive in Australia.

Driving with a foreign license is subject to varying laws and restrictions in each of the states and territories. For instance, after a specific period of time residing in Australia, several states and territories need you to obtain an Australian driver's license.

A certified English translation of the license is also required if you want to drive for any length of time with an international license that is not written in English. These can be acquired via a consulate, embassy, National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI), or the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators (AUSIT).

To drive in Australia while holding a license from another country, you might additionally require an International Driving Permit (IDP).

The length of time that you may drive in Australia on an international license is broken down below each state:

  • ACT: 3 months (90 days)
  • NSW: 3 months 
  • Northern Territory: 3 months
  • Queensland: 3 months (from 1 August 2022)
  • South Australia: 3 months (90 days)
  • Tasmania: 3 months
  • Victoria: 6 months
  • Western Australia: 3 months

Different sorts of licenses are available in Australia for various types of cars. If you want to drive a standard automobile, you will need the C-class license, which is the most popular license. For those operating buses and trucks as well as those operating mopeds and motorbikes, several other licenses are needed.


You need a driver's license issued by your province or territory's government in order to lawfully operate a vehicle in Canada. When you are driving, you must always have it with you. You can travel anywhere in Canada in a car with it.

For a brief period after arriving in Canada, you should be allowed to drive using your valid driver's license from your home country. For more information, check with your province or territory's administration.

You must obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) in your native country if you intend to drive in Canada using a foreign driver's license. You will receive a French and English translation of your license from an IDP.

As an international student in Canada, you can obtain a driver's license; however, the procedure varies according to your country of origin and the province you intend to operate a vehicle in.

You may not be required to convert your license if you are a full-time student at a Designated Learning Institution in British Columbia, therefore you can keep using your foreign-issued license as long as it is still in use and in good standing. If not, you have 90 days to convert your legitimate, non-Canadian-issued license to a British Columbia license by contacting the ICBC.

Students who arrive in Ontario with a valid international driver's license are permitted to drive for 60 days. Beyond this, foreign drivers in Ontario must apply for a new license or exchange their current license for an Ontario one. For several nations, Ontario also provides a license exchange scheme.

Students in Alberta who have a valid foreign driver's license and an IDP can drive for one year before they need to get an Alberta driver's license, but if they leave and come back, the year is all over again.

International trainees and students may drive in Quebec for as long as they hold a valid driving permit from their home nation.

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