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Allegedly having European driver's license recognized in US is a lengthy and complicated process. On the other hand getting new license at DMV is trivial.

Is there any practical advantage of the former? Will for example years of experience count toward insurance discount?

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I'm assuming by "recognized" you mean accepted as a license suitable for exchange for a local license (in other words, to skip the learner license process and some tests).

Whether a foreign license is recognized for exchange or not depends on the state, and on the foreign country involved. Each state has different reciprocal agreements (usually none at all). So for some states it will be routine to accept a particular foreign license, for most others not possible, there isn't really much of a grey area.

For example California doesn't recognize foreign licenses: if you have a license from another country, you will be required to take a driving test. Same for New York (unless the license is Canadian). Some states may require tests even if you have another US license (it's usually at their discretion).

South Carolina does waive the knowledge and skills testing for those with valid licenses from France, Germany and some US territories (but not Canada). Texas doesn't require the tests if you have a license from Canada, France, Germany, South Korea, or the US or US territories.

It's unlikely whether the state accepts the license for exchange or not would make any difference to the insurance.

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  • It is not true that most insurance companies don't take any notice of foreign driving experience. While I do not presume to have any statistics, from my experience some of the larger ones definitely do. – littleadv May 5 '14 at 1:31
  • There are certainly "some larger" insurance companies that may accept foreign driving experience, but that leaves the rest: most. Anyhow, that's a little off the topic of getting the license recognised, so I removed it. – Rob Hoare May 5 '14 at 2:32
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Allegedly having European driver's license recognized in US is a lengthy and complicated process. On the other hand getting new license at DMV is trivial.

There's no difference between the two. Depends on the State, but in most States if you become a resident you have to get the local driver license. If you have a US/Canadian license - they just copy the permissions and issue you a local one, otherwise you're getting a new license from scratch. The only benefit of having a foreign license is that if you fail the driving test you don't have to have anyone driving you away from the DMV (at least in CA they require you to be accompanied by a licensed driver if you're on a learner's permit).

Some insurers count foreign experience, others don't. You'll have to shop around.

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