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Obtaining an Illinois Driver's License

Driver’s License from Home Country and International Driving Permit (IDP)

We recommend you bring both your driver’s license from your home country and an International Driving Permit (IDP) if you plan to drive a car while studying in the U.S.

Things to know:

  • You cannot apply for an IDP after you are in the U.S.
  • To apply for an IDP, contact the authorities of the country that issued your driver’s license, or its motoring association, to inquire how to obtain an International Driving Permit.
  • The IDP along with the valid driver’s license from your home country will allow you to drive in Illinois without an IL Driver’s License.
  • An IDP does not replace a government issued driver license, but is its official translation.

You may drive in Illinois without a valid Illinois driver’s license under the following circumstances (found on Page 3 of 2016 Rules of the Road Booklet):

• If you are visiting or driving through Illinois, you must have a valid driver’s license from your home state or country.

• If you are an out-of-state student attending an Illinois college/university, you, your spouse and children may drive with a valid license from your home state or country

We recommend you keep a copy of the Rules of the Road Booklet in your car when driving in the U.S. on an IDP or home country driver’s license

For Students with Social Security Numbers

To drive in the U.S., you must have a valid driver's license issued by the state in which you live. Your driver's License will be issued with validity to the end date of your program. To apply for a license:

  • Visit the Illinois Secretary of State Driver License Facility at 1502 Troy Rd #A, Edwardsville, IL 62025. Their office hours are Tuesday, 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Wednesday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Saturday, 7:30 a.m.-noon. They are closed Sundays and Mondays.
  • Visit the office early in the morning, because the wait is usually long. The process takes at least two hours, longer Fridays and Saturdays.
  • Bring your Social Security card, passport, I-94 card, I-20 or DS-2019, and two documents for proof of your local address. This proof may be a piece of mail addressed to your local address (e.g., bill) or a copy of your lease.
  • Obtaining a driver's license costs $30, which must be paid at the time of application.
  • You will be required to take vision and written tests and have your photograph taken. For information about Illinois road rules and regulations, pick up a copy of Rules of the Road at an Illinois Secretary of State Driver License Facility.
  • You will be required to take a driving test in your own vehicle.
  • If you fail the driving or written test, you may apply for the license again after further study.

For more information, call 618-656‑8956.

For Students without a Social Security Number

Illinois Temporary Visitor Driver’s License (TVDL)–  The Illinois Secretary of State’s Office will issue a TEMPORARY VISITOR DRIVER’s LICENSE for non-citizens of the United States who have been granted temporary, legal entry into the U.S. and are temporarily residing in the State of Illinois and ineligible for a Social Security number. A TVDL will be issued only authorizing operation of a personal car, motorcycle or motor-driven cycle. A TVDL is valid for three years or for the period of time the individual is authorized to stay in this country, whichever ends sooner. See instructions for applying for Illinois Temporary Visitor Driver’s License (TVDL)

Applying for an Illinois Temporary Visitor Driver’s License (TVDL):

This is only for international students who cannot obtain a Social Security Card. This is a basic guide to assist through the process of applying for your Illinois Temporary Visitor Driver’s License (TDVL). If you need more detailed information please review the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website at or the Rules of the Road booklet.

*Note the DMV is obligated to ask each applicant if they would like to register to vote. Your response must be no, as it is illegal for you to register to vote when you are not a citizen of the United States. If you say yes, it could lead to problems for future visa or Permanent Resident applications.

To be eligible for a TVDL driver’s license, a foreign national must:

  • Be authorized to be in the country for at least one year and have at least six months remaining on an authorized stay
  • Visit the DMV (address and hours below)
  • Present proper identification documents listed below
  • Pass the appropriate exams (Vision, written and/or behind-the-wheel driving exam)
  • Present Liability Insurance Card (if taking driving exam)
  • Pay appropriate fee via cash, check or Discover, Master Card credit cards

 A person age 18-20 who does not hold a driver’s license from their home country must present proof of successful completion of a 6-hour adult driver education and training course. This course can be completed online at

Individuals eligible for a TVDL may obtain an instruction permit allowing them to practice driving before taking their road exam if you do not have an IDP or home country driver’s license. To obtain an instruction permit, the applicant must visit one of the designated Driver Services facilities in the state of Illinois: (Bloomington, Carbondale, Champaign, Chicago North, Chicago West, Macomb, Rockford Central, Springfield (Dirksen Parkway)) and meet the requirements for obtaining a license for the first time.

Note: Springfield (about 1.5 hours by car) is the closest to Edwardsville of the above mentioned Driver Services facilities

Documents to present:


___Original I-20 showing your entry to the U.S. and current I-20 (if different from original)

___Most recent I-94 printout

___TWO items from the following list to show Proof of Address:

 - Lease agreement with address listed, your name and signature of the landlord

 - Utility Bill (electric, water, cell phone, etc., issued within 90 days of application)

 - Tuition invoice/official mail from college or university dated within 12 months prior to application

___Car insurance policy


Springfield Dirksen Parkway Driver’s License Facility:

Contact Person: Jeff Bowker 

Address: 2701 S. Dirksen Parkway, Springfield, IL 62723

Phone: (217) 785-1440 


Hours: Monday- Friday from 8:00am – 5:00pm, Closed on Saturday and Sunday

The Illinois State Identity Card

If you are not planning to drive, the Secretary of State also issues the Illinois State Identity Card with your photo and information on it. You must have a Social Security Number to obtain an Illinois state ID. This is an easily recognizable form of identification used for cashing checks, proving your age, etc. Plan on making an appointment before going to the Secretary of State. To do so, visit the Illinois Secretary of State Driver License Facility at 1502 Troy Rd #A, Edwardsville, IL 62025.

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