The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

Four Steps to Get a Driver’s License if You’re an Expat or Studying Abroad for a Long Period of Time


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 Whether you are moving to another country permanently as an expatriate or studying abroad for a long period of time, being able to navigate your new country independently will provide you with a lot of convenience and independence.

So, let us take a look at four steps you need to take to get a driver’s license abroad.

1.   Research Local Laws and Apply for an International Driving Permit

The first and most important step is to learn about the laws concerning driver’s licenses in the specific country you will be moving to, as each country will have different rules.

By looking on government websites, you can find out about the precise rules for your country and the steps you need to take to gain a valid license.

Most countries require you to get an International Driving Permit. You will need to already have a current driving license for your home country before you can apply for an IDP.

If you are a U.S. resident, you will need to apply for an IDP before leaving the U.S., which can usually be done through organizations like the AAA or AATA.

2.   Gather Required Documentation

In almost every country, you will need certain documents to apply for a driver’s license as an expat or international student. That generally includes your passport, proof of residence, existing driving license, and sometimes medical certificates.

3.   Attend Driver’s Education

Many countries require foreigners to undergo a driver’s education course or training session. This covers both practical driving lessons and theoretical knowledge about local traffic rules.

Attending such courses will equip you with the necessary skills to drive confidently abroad.

4.   Take the Examination

You may also need to undertake a driving test after you have completed your driver’s education before you can receive a driver’s license for the country in which you will be residing. That could involve both written and practical examinations.

Upon passing the examination, you can apply for your official driver’s license from the relevant local authorities. Fees will vary by country, so it is important to budget appropriately.

Additional Steps for International Students

While the primary steps to get a driver’s license as an international student are similar to those of an expat, there are some additional considerations you need to address.

Student Visa Verification

As a student, your visa status will be scrutinized before you are issued any form of identification in your host country. So, ensure your student visa is valid and up-to-date.

Proof of Enrolment

In many cases, proof of enrolment in an educational institution will be required before you can apply for a driver’s license. Generally speaking, this means providing official documents or letters from your university confirming your status as an active student there.

You will usually need to provide a local residential address, too.

Temporary Resident Permit

Certain countries require students to obtain temporary resident permits before they can acquire driving licenses. These permits often involve additional applications.

Getting a Driver’s License in Different Countries

Now, let us take a brief look at how to get a driver’s license in some popular countries for expats and students.


France permits people with U.S. driver’s licenses, and licenses from many other countries, accompanied by an IDP, for a period of one year. After that period, you must apply for a French driver’s license which involves passing both written and practical exams.


People who have temporary or permanent residential statuses can get a driver’s license for expats in Mexico. The same goes for students.

However, the process of obtaining a license in Mexico can differ slightly from one state to another.


Australia allows expats and international students to drive on their home country’s license, provided it is current and written in English, for a period of three months.

After that time, you will need to apply for an Australian license which requires passing a knowledge test, a hazard perception test, and a practical driving examination.

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