May I Drive in New York with a License from Another State or Country?

Millions of people from other countries travel to New York to vacation, visit family, live, work, and study. In most cases, these individuals carry a driver’s license from their native country. 

If you are a foreign national who is only visiting New York, you may be wondering if your license is valid in New York? According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), non-residents can drive with a valid driver’s license from out of state or another country. 

When it comes to driver’s licenses from other countries, the DMV recommends obtaining an International Driving Permit, which verifies in several languages that you possess a valid license. In addition, police officers who cannot read the language on your foreign license can read the permit. 

On the other hand, if you become a New York resident or do not have a driver’s license from your home country, you need to complete a five-hour pre-licensing course, pass a written test, and pass a road test in order to drive in the state. Regarding students from other states or countries who attend school within the state, they are not considered New York State residents. 

What about undocumented immigrants? In June 2019, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Green Light Bill that allows non-citizens over 16 years old to apply for a non-commercial New York State driver’s license – no matter their legal status. 

If a foreign national commits a traffic violation in New York, it is imperative to not ignore the ticket since such action could result in increased penalties and the violation would be disclosed to immigration officials. However, serious traffic violations like DWI or reckless driving can impact a foreign national’s future immigration status, if they wish to become a state resident or U.S. citizen. 

For individuals from Canada, New York State shares their information with traffic authorities in Quebec and Ontario provinces. This means a traffic ticket conviction in New York will transfer to the Canadian license and will lead to demerit points, as well as increased auto insurance premiums. 

If you are an out-of-state driver or foreign national who has committed a traffic violation in New York City, contact Stites Law today at (212) 729-0472 for a free consultation. We have helped over 125,000 drivers throughout the state!