Driver’s Licenses and NYC IDs
We encourage students living in New York City (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, or Staten Island) to consider applying for the NYC ID. This card is a government-issued photo ID and gives you access to NYC services and memberships at cultural institutions.
Learn more about it here: http://www1.nyc.gov/site/idnyc/index.page
NYS Non-Driver ID
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) also issues New York State Non-Driver ID cards. To learn more about applying for this, please visit the DMV website here.
Foreign Driver's License and International Driving Permit
New York honors all valid foreign licenses. By law, New York will honor a valid driver’s license issued by any other nation to a resident of that nation.
If you drive using your valid home country license and your license is not in English, you must also carry a certified English translation of your license. Cornell language departments can provide Official Translations.
If possible, we suggest obtaining a current International Driving Permit only available in your home country, because it informs authorities, in several languages, that you have a valid foreign driver license. An International Driving Permit by itself is not valid for driving in New York State. New York honors the underlying license, not the permit alone.
NYS Driver's License
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) recommends only applying for a New York State license if you become a resident of New York. However, many non-U.S. residents find it difficult to register a personal vehicle without a U.S. license. You may also discover that automobile insurance companies charge higher rates or will not insure your car without a U.S. driver’s license
If you decide to apply for a NYS driver’s license, keep the following in mind:
- If you have a license from any nation other than Canada, you must pass a written test, complete a 5-hour pre-licensing course and pass a road test to qualify for a New York license. Your foreign license is valid for driving, but not for waiving the tests and course for new drivers.
- If you have a valid license from Canada, you do not need to take a driving course or a road test.
- You must provide proof of identity and date of birth. You will be required to show your Social Security card or provide a letter (issued within the last 30 days) from the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) stating that you are not eligible for a Social Security number (SSN). You can find more information from the U.S. Social Security Administration. To get a denial letter from the SSA, you will first need to obtain a letter from Student & Academic Affairs stating that you are not working. (Note: If you do not have a SSN, your application may be delayed an additional 1-4 weeks while the DMV conducts additional background checks. The DMV will notify you when this process is complete so you can finish your application.) You MUST also present an I-94 card, with supporting documentation of your visa status, such as an I-20 or DS-2019.
- When you receive your New York license, you must surrender your foreign license. Your foreign license will be stored at the local DMV office and destroyed after 60 days. If you will need your foreign license in the future, ask the examiner that your foreign license be filed. You may then request that license back by going to the office where it is filed, and surrendering your NYS license.