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Obtaining an Illinois Driver's License

If you will be driving in Illinois and or if you plan to purchase a motor vehicle (a car, scooter or motorcycle), you must get an Illinois Driver's License. Most insurance companies will not provide coverage unless you have one, and having insurance is a legal requirement. Students with an international license may drive legally in Illinois for 90 days after entering the United States. The Secretary of State has the latest Illinois Driver booklet, forms, and instructions on how to apply for an Illinois Drivers License. For details, see Illinois Drivers 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. 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 through Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.; and Saturday, 7:30 a.m. - noon. They are closed on 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 to 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

To obtain a Social Security Number (SSN), you must either have a job offer or an Employment Authorization Document. For more information, please see Obtaining a Social Security Number.

Even without a Social Security Number, you may still apply for a temporary visitor driver's license if your non-immigrant status is F-1, F-2, J-1 or J-2. To apply for the temporary visitor license:

  • Request a letter from the ISS stating that you do not have a job on campus.
  • Obtain a Letter of Ineligibility for a Social Security Number (Form L-676) from the local Social Security Administration field office within 30 days of applying for the license. They will ask you to fill out an application for an SSN. Tell them you are only applying in order to obtain a letter of ineligibility so you can apply for a driver's license. We suggest visiting the Social Security Office in Alton, IL.
  • Visit the Illinois Secretary of State Driver License Facility at 2701 Dirksen Parkway, Springfield, IL 62723. Their office hours are Monday - Friday 8am to 5pm.
  • Bring your proof of automobile insurance, Form L-676, 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. If you status is J-2 or F-2, bring your dependent I-20 or DS-2019, as well as your F-1s I-20 or your J-1s DS-2019.
  • 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 to 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. You will be given three additional chances to pass.

For more information, call (618) 656‑8956.

Following these six simple tips makes the process go much smoother and saves a lot of time:

  • Wait 10 days after you arrive in the United States. You may want to apply for a driver's license right away, but be patient. The 10-day wait allows time for all the government databases to update with your arrival information.
  • Make sure your record in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is up-to-date and in Active status. SEVIS is the database that contains information for all F and J nonimmigrants in the United States. SIUE International Office manages the F and J SEVIS records for students or scholars with an 1-20 or DS-2019. SIUE Office of International Programs must place your record in Active status when you report to the campus. For students and scholars, this is done by attending International Orientation at the beginning of your semester. If your record is not Active when you apply, your driver's license application will be rejected.
  • Wait two days after your International Advisor activates your record in SEVIS. After SIUE Office of International Programs has activated your record in SEVIS, wait at least two federal business days before you apply for a driver's license. This gives all the databases time to update with your new information.
  • Bring your proof of automobile insurance, Form L-676, 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. If you status is J-2 or F-2, bring your dependent I-20 or DS-2019, as well as your F-1s I-20 or your J-1s DS-2019.
  • Visit the DMV early in the morning. The wait is usually long in the afternoon. The process takes at least two hours, longer on Fridays and Saturdays.
  • Check your forms. Check all your forms to make sure your information is correct. This is data integrity. Data integrity is very important because if you have different information on different forms, it will cause delays. Specifically, check your Form I-94, "Arrival/Departure Record," for handwritten information. If the information on your Form I-94 is different than on your passport or Form I-20 or DS-2019, please contact SIUE International Office.
  • Bring all your paperwork. When you go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) - the common name for a state government office that issues driver's licenses, remember to bring all your paperwork. For most states, the paperwork includes these documents:
    • Form I-20 or Form DS-2019
    • Form I-94, "Arrival/Departure Record"
    • Passport (with visa, if applicable)
    • Social Security Card or Ineligibility for a Social Security Number (Form L-676)
    • Two documents that are proof of your local address

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. 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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