I'm moving to USA (Tucson, AZ) for graduate school, and was wondering what identification alternatives I could use where ID is required, as I prefer not carrying around my passport with me.

I have an Australian driver's license - would this let me be eligible for IDP (international driver's permit)?

  • 2
    Welcome to TSE; do note that questions involving temporary relocation are often better-suited to our sister site, Expatriates. At the least, it would be useful to know what your use cases would be. A local bar may have certain requirements, the public library other requirements, and still others your bank or the TSA. Do note that the IDP does not constitute acceptable ID by itself; it is a translation of your driver's license—which should be unnecessary for an Australian.
    – choster
    Jul 16, 2019 at 21:16
  • 3
    As a graduate student, you'll most likely be authorized to work on campus. As I understand it, this will make you eligible to get a social security number (SSN), and with an SSN you can get an Arizona driver's license. Jul 16, 2019 at 21:43
  • 3
    And practically speaking, that is what you should do. You can drive with your Australian license if you're just visiting Arizona as a tourist (and according to this you would not even need an IDP, although it is recommended). However, as soon as you are a full-time student living and working in Arizona, the state will want you to have an Arizona license, and may not consider your Australian license valid. Jul 16, 2019 at 23:08
  • Moreover, your Australian license, with or without IDP, will be useless as identification for any purpose besides driving. Nobody in the US will accept it as proof of your identity (bars, hotels, doctors, etc, etc). Jul 16, 2019 at 23:10
  • You'll probably use your student ID for most things on and around campus. Jul 17, 2019 at 0:46

1 Answer 1


The easiest thing to do is to get a State ID. This can be easily done at a local MVD.

Another option would be to get a Driver License. Since you're from Australia*, you will need to get a car (either from a friend or rented) and take a computer and road test.

For either option, I recommend getting an ID valid for Federal Identification (air travel).

You will need the following documents for all options above:

  • Passport with Visa
  • I-20
  • I-94
  • Mail with your name and current address (for travel ID only)

Please wait at least 1 week after arriving to the US to apply. It takes some time for SEVIS to update. Plus, your adviser needs to check you in the system.

In regards to the need of a SSN, when I got my license a few years ago SSN was not needed. However, it seems that now the SSN is mandatory. If so, you have 2 options: Ask the DSO to issue you a SSN or provide the DMV with a Form SSA-L676, “Refusal to Process SSN Application.” secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0100299020

*Check the list of countries with reciprocity here: https://www.azdot.gov/motor-vehicles/driver-services/Tests_Manuals_and_Driving_Schools/foreign-reciprocity

  • 1
    "in the state of Arizona you DO NOT need a SSN to get a State ID or Driver License." I believe that is true in every state if you are in a nonimmigrant status that is not eligible to get an SSN.
    – user102008
    Jul 17, 2019 at 16:15
  • 2
    @user102008 That is my thought as well. But since every state has their own requirements, I'm not sure about the other ones.
    – IanDan
    Jul 17, 2019 at 19:16
  • The SSN requirements are mostly motivated by Real ID and therefore basically the same everywhere as far as I've seen.
    – phoog
    Jul 19, 2019 at 3:05
  • 1
    Can you give a reference for the statement that you do not need an SSN for a driver's license? I don't doubt you, but azdot.gov/motor-vehicles/NewtoAZ/obtaining-a-license says flatly that "you are required [...] to provide your social security number". Jul 19, 2019 at 3:10
  • I am speaking out of my own experience. When I first got my license I didn't have a SSN. They didn't even ask for one. That might have changed however. If so, you have 2 options: Ask the DSO to issue a SSN or provide the DMV with a Form SSA-L676, “Refusal to Process SSN Application.” secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0100299020 I edited my response to reflect the fact that they might ask for SSN now.
    – IanDan
    Jul 19, 2019 at 15:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.