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A friend of mine has a Ukrainian driver's license. He's moving to study in the US and wants a local one (his stay will be quite lengthy.) What's the best way to do this?

If I understood this website correctly, then all that is needed is for him to fill out the application correctly and he'll be all set. Is that correct?

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    As per your link, the answer is No. Ukraine is not on the short list of countries whose driver's licenses can be converted to a MA license without tests. He will need to go through some testing procedures and will need to prove residency. – Tom Sep 7 '17 at 4:48
  • And further down the appendixA pdf you copied from, it says "A limited number of countries .... without the need for a written or road test." And the Ukraine is not on that list as per the OPs link. – Tom Sep 7 '17 at 5:26
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    @HankyPanky Tom is right - see page 34 and 36 of this document: massrmv.com/Portals/30/docs/dmanual/chapter_1.pdf – Moo Sep 7 '17 at 5:38
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Unfortunately, you read the website wrong. You are only allowed to convert your licence from a few countries, namely the following ones:

  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • U.S. Territories
  • Republic of Korea
  • Federal Republic of Germany
  • Republic of France
  • Taiwan

In case for your Ukranian licence, it is only valid if you have an accompanied International Driving Permit (IDP) with it, and even then it is only valid for one year after you enter the US. You can find the list of countries where you can use an IDP to drive for at most one year here. Ukraine is mentioned on the third page, as one of the post-USSR countries.

If you are staying in the US for longer, you have to apply for a passenger (Class D) learner's permit, and do the appropriate tests to get a full driving licence. Note that you can only apply if you have a valid immigration status for at least 12 months, so it might be possible that your IDP gets invalid before you get a chance of getting a learner's permit.

You can do the driving licence exam in various languages however. Unfortunately this also doesn't include Ukrainian, only Russian:

  • Arabic
  • Armenian
  • Burmese
  • Cambodian (Khmer)
  • Chinese (simplified)
  • Chinese (traditional)
  • English
  • Farsi
  • French
  • German
  • Greek
  • Gujarati
  • Haitian/Creole
  • Hindi
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Laotian
  • Polish
  • Portuguese (Brazilian)
  • Russian
  • Serbo-Croatian (Latin)
  • Somali
  • Spanish
  • Tagalog/Filipino
  • Thai
  • Urdu
  • Vietnamese
  • An IDP is not required, it is just recommended in case the police have trouble reading the actual license (see Appendix A). Also in Massachusetts "converting your license" means giving up your current license for one of their's, which people with a license from any Appendix A country can do. Only people from the short list of countries can avoid the tests when converting but I believe the others can at least avoid having to have a already-licensed "sponsor" to accompany them for their driving test. – Dennis Sep 8 '17 at 19:08
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    IDP is recommended if the licence is not in English, which is most likely true for an Ukrainian one – SztupY Sep 9 '17 at 0:06
  • I am pretty sure that the 12 month statement, which says it's from the application date, is to ensure that the applicant is here on a long-stay visa, not a short-term visitor's visa. – mkennedy Oct 8 '17 at 16:27
  • @mkennedy with Real ID licenses, states are required to verify the actual immigration status of license applicants. The 12-month limitation seems more about limiting bureaucratic workload than anything else. The US sometimes admits visitors for 12 months, and sometimes admits non-visitors for shorter periods, or indefinitely ("duration of status," or D/S). In some states, people admitted indefinitely can only get a license valid for one year. – phoog Oct 8 '17 at 17:40

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