How to Transfer an Out-of-State Driver's License

By: Staff Writer June 1, 2012
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A new state requires a new drivers license. Depending on the status of your current driver license, the process - regardless of state - is generally easy.

Still, you'll need to act fast. Most states require new licenses for new residents within a designated period of time after establishing residency. Tennessee, for example, gives new residents a 30-day window, North Carolina 60 days, and Texas 90 days.

Transfer a Valid Out-of-State Driver License

To transfer a driver's license that's valid (meaning, not expired), visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office.

(Not sure where that is yet? We can help you find your local DMV.)

Bear in mind that requirements vary by state, but in most cases some or all of the following requirements will apply:

  • Your current driver's license (the out-of-state one). Without it, the DMV will consider you unlicensed and you'll have to start from scratch. This means taking - and passing - the written and driving exams.
  • Proper identification. In some cases, your current drivers license will suffice. This will depend on the DMV. Otherwise you'll need to present at least one form of primary identification. This usually entails a passport or birth certificate.
  • Provide proof of your Social Security number. Or, if you don't own a number, present a letter from the Social Security Administration explaining why.
  • Provide proof of residency. Some states may require two proofs of this.
  • Pass a vision test.
  • Have payment for new driver license.

Find a list of acceptable proofs of ID and residency on your state's DMV website.

Teen Drivers

If you're younger than 18 you may face additional requirements.

For example, some states require teen drivers to complete their state-approved driver education courses or training programs before they'll issue a driver's license (or, for that matter, learner's permit).

Find out your new state's requirements for transferring teen driver licenses.

Expired Licenses

If your driver license has been expired for an extended period of time, you will not be allowed to transfer your license. Instead, you must apply for a new license, which most likely will require passing a vision test, written exam, and driving test.

A Word on Foreign Driver License Transfers

If you're a foreign traveler with a visitor's vista, you may drive in the U.S. provided you have a valid driver license from your home country and an International Driver Permit. Generally, this is valid for one year, before you must transfer your drivers license.

In most states, you will follow the same driver license transfer procedures as described above if you have a valid license from any one of the following countries or territories:

  • American Samoa
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • Guam
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Yukon Territory
  • Puerto Rico

Otherwise, in addition to all of the requirements described above, you will also need to apply for a new license. This means passing a vision screening, a driving test, and a skills test. To prepare, study your state's driver manual and take several DMV practice tests.

There may be other requirements specific to your state, too, such as taking a drug and alcohol awareness program. Some states mandate these.

Do you have any tips for making the drivers license transfer process easier? Share with our community in the comments below!

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