I'm aware of "reciprocity agreements" some states of America have with other countries. I wish to move to America, but not to go through the hell of getting a license again.

In Australia: All of my search results are for coming to Australia from America, but I want to do the opposite. What states of America will allow a transfer of driver's license (Probably through a reciprocity agreement) from Australia?

I'm going to Washington, Seattle, but based on dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/moving.html I'd have to do all of the tests again, which is why I'm asking about other states (So I can move to them temporarilly, get a licence, and move back to Washington. The nearest state to Washington which will allow what I need would be the best option).

With an account problem and my low reputation, I couldn't directly comment to the answers, so did so via edits here:

@Dorothy (2016-09-03 16:48:06) I thought about British Columbia, but it's a part of Canada, not America. I would have to go through visa/green card stuff and everything else twice. It'd be ideal to move to a different country once (America) and between its states to do what's needed. British Columbia would be my last option, if I can't find any others inside America.

@Dennis (2016-09-03 19:00:55) I couldn't find the information you were talking about on the page you linked to, it was only listing other states of America which they'll transfer from, not other countries. Maybe I missed it. Will Virginia really allow a transfer from Australia?

@jpakotal (2016.09.10 12:55:55) and @Dorothy (2016.09.11 02:23:53) I had to go through years of hell for my licence the first time, so I don't want to throw all of that out by having to restart the physical test (They kept lying about the physical tests, so they could fail me, and I'd have to pay more. I had to make legal action, which I won, so they'd stop that). I'd be okay if I have to redo the mental test again, to transfer my licence, but not the physical test (As I don't trust what happened won't happen again).

@Dennis (2016-09-10 22:21:14) From what I'm reading on the page you linked: I only need to have residence in America generally, not Washington DC specifically, so simply being in Seattle, as I will be, would be enough (If I'm right). It's exactly what I need, but nearer options would be better (If I have to temporarily move to one of them, this is okay too).

  • FWIW, getting a licence in the US is usually far easier than getting one in Australia. Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 12:55
  • Agree with @jpatokal; as written, the process may seem onerous but they're not; you'll spend more time collecting the required documents than you will at the DMV.
    – Giorgio
    Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 2:53
  • I moved to the US 4 years ago and didn't find the process of getting a US license to be "hell" at all. I did a little online studying of the road rules and then booked my tests - passed & done.
    – brhans
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 16:36
  • You have created two accounts. You can always comment on answers to your own question, and edit your own question without approval, but your second account can't do that for a question posted by your first account. You can merge your accounts: expatriates.stackexchange.com/help/merging-accounts.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 12:07
  • @brhans did you have to do the mental and physical tests, or only the mental one?
    – Ivel
    Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 13:43

1 Answer 1


It's not hell, intended to punish those with non-US licenses; it's the equal-opportunity bureaucracy that torments everyone, Americans included, when they relocate to another state. Residents are required to get a license issued by the state in which the live, usually within 30-90 days of moving there.

Short term, you would be able to drive in the US with your Australian permit, since it is a party to the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic. Since you plan to live/work/study in the US, you have to get a driving license (the same 30-90 days would apply to you).

Temporary residence in another state might let you avoid the some of the requirements that Washington State imposes, but those have similar requirements on residency and eligibility. The two states which immediately border Washington are Oregon and Idaho.

You might consider an easier alternative, moving to British Columbia, Washington's neighbor to the North and with which the State does have reciprocity, just as Canada has with Australia.

  • FWIW, a recent post indicated that Virginia would waive the tests for foreign license holders (they made me take them, but that was long ago) and their web site agrees with that. Not too close to WA, though.
    – Dennis
    Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 19:00
  • @Dennis; it did, as did DC and Maryland, because of the large international community in the Capitol. That seems to have changed: Virginia waives all but a vision test only for those with licenses from Canada, France, Germany, or South Korea (okay, I checked).
    – Giorgio
    Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 19:07
  • @lvel, according to Dorothy not any more. DC will waive the road test, though. I'm not quite sure how you would go about making use of that fact without an actual residence there, however, since the federal RealID regulations seem to have made the states quite strict about determining that you live where you say you do. Even California, which never does anything the "normal" way, started doing that on July 1.
    – Dennis
    Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 22:21

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