Obtaining your NYS Driver's License

How to Apply for a NYS Driver License or NYS Learner Permit

The NYS DMV provides eligible persons in NYS with documents necessary to legally drive a car in New York State, and identity documents.

International students are allowed to drive in New York State using their home country driver's license and an International Driving Permit if your home country license is not in English. For more information, download the PDF below:

Driving in the US with a Foreign Drivers License (PDF) 

You may also wish to apply at the NYS DMV for a NYS Learner's Permit or a NYS Driver's License.

To apply for a NYS ID Card you need to bring the following documents with you to the NYS DMV:  

  • A Letter of Certification prepared for you by the IEP office. This letter will confirm you valid visa status and enrollment in full-time study at SUNY Potsdam
  • Your immigration documents , I-20 (you will need the one with the most recent entry stamp, if you have a document issued after your most recent entry, you need both documents) visa and passport, and I-94 card
  • Please note: At the time of your application, your I-20 must be issued for a minimum of 1 academic year, and 6 months must remain before the program completion date        
  • Your name must be the presented in the same way on all of your identity documents. The name on your immigration papers, Social Security card, and other documents must match.            
  • US Social Security card or a Letter of Ineligibility from the Social Security Administration     
  • Additional proof of identity to meet the 6 points of identity required by NYS DMV (see the information available on the NYS DMV website to learn more about acceptable proofs of identity)    
  • NYS DMV application for the NYS Learner's Permit or NYS Driver's License    
  • If you have applied for OPT, you need to have received your EAD card to apply for a new driver's license. Your OPT I-20 must also have a minimum of 6 months left before the end of your OPT authorization.

Department of Motor Vehicle's website.

Directions to the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles:

All persons in F visa status must go to the Canton office of the NYS DMV. This is the only office presently equipped with the technology required to process applications where verification of a passport identity pages is necessary.

The main county office of the NYS DMV is located in Canton at 80 State Highway 310 - Suite 3.

You can check on office hours by calling 315-386-1408 or 315-386-1409. Remember office hours may change so be sure to check for the hours during the week you plan to visit the DMV office.

It is against the law to drive a motor vehicle that is not registered, or not covered by auto insurance to the NYS DMV office. The NYS DMV has the legal authority to seize your vehicle and impound it (keep it).You will be ticketed for a violation of the law and you may also be fined.

Owning a Car in NYS:


There is a lot to know and learn about owning, registering, and insuring a car in New York State. It is suggested you review the information available on Binghamton University, State University of New York's website. Please remember the information presented is geared towards international students living and attending school in the Binghamton area - car rental business locations/phone numbers and DMV office locations are not pertinent to a student attending SUNY Potsdam - however all NYSDMV regulatory information is applicable.

Please Note: All information on this page was used with permission and adapted from: International Student and Scholar Services, Binghamton University, State University of New York.
Binghamton University, State University of New York - Guidelines for Owning a Car in the U.S.