I have Russian driving license and additional to it International Driving Permit. I'm moving for USA with h1 visa and I wish to know how long I can use my driving documents there and if I can get local driving permit and how?

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    To what state in the US are you headed?
    – Giorgio
    Oct 20, 2016 at 12:54
  • @Dorothy Washington D.C. Or, probably Virginia
    – Anna Bot
    Oct 20, 2016 at 21:32

1 Answer 1


I'm a Washingtonian; you are going to love the DC metro area.

Unfortunately for you, neither Russia (nor any part of the former USSR) was party to the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic which would allow you to drive in the US for up to a year with a foreign driving licence.

You can drive with your IDP, accompanied by your Russian permit, but will need to go through the process of obtaining a State-issued permit. In both locations, however, the road skills test might be waived but the testing center would have to confirm that for you. While that may be so, I've left that requirement, as stated in the relevant sources, because there may be variables in your circumstances.

Here's what Virginia requires, that within 60 days of moving to the State, you must obtain a Virginia driver's license. There is a fee, currently $32.

If you are age 18 or older and you hold a valid driver's license issued by a country other than Canada, France, Germany, or South Korea, you may not be required to show proof of successful completion of driver education or hold a learner's permit for 60 days. However, you must pass the two-part knowledge exam, road skills test and a vision screening.

The documentation you will need to provide to prove your

  • Identity (e.g. birth certificate, passport, government-issued ID card)
  • Legal presence in the U.S. (e.g. U.S. passport, permanent resident card, foreign passport and I-94 print out)
  • VA residency (e.g. rental agreement, recent bank statement, recent paycheck stub)
  • SSN, if you have one (e.g. Social Security card, paycheck stub, Social Security statement)
  • Name change, if applicable (e.g. marriage certificate, divorce decree, court order)

Here are the VA DMV's list of required and accepted documents.

The District of Columbia has two different licenses, the REAL ID driver license and the Limited Purpose ID driver license. The latter is for those who do not have a Social Security number (never have had one, won't be getting one).

The documentation and requirements are similar and, again, there is a fee.

You must also bring the documents that prove you are eligible for a driver license. The documents required are listed below, and DC DMV will not accept any documents that are not listed:

Non-US citizens may obtain a DC DMV REAL ID driver license or DC DMV REAL ID identification card if they possess a USCIS Notice of Action, Form I-797, reflecting that they have applied for an employment authorization card, permanent resident card, or adjustment of status or any other unexpired document issued by USCIS or US Department of State allowing lawful presence.

  • 1
    Note that you seem to contradict the Virginia requirement you quote: the road test is required for a Russian license holder. Also, Virginia requires two identity documents, with the only ones that the OP might have being a passport+I-94 and an I-797, so she needs to bring her I-797(!). Finally, if she's an H-4 (from another post) she won't be getting a SSN, will need to do a DC road test too and may be in a 1->6 month Catch-22 concerning her driving privilege.
    – Dennis
    Oct 21, 2016 at 0:35
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    I left it in, rather than asking more details of her. It may be waived, as I noted at the top, b/c of her IDP. Both DC and Northern Virginia tend to be generous when it comes to foreign nationals, b/c of the huge diplomatic community. Her earlier question suggests, indeed, that she is not the H1B holder, but the spouse and would be H-4, asking about how she can obtain work permit, social security number etc. Thx; I'll make the statement more conditional.
    – Giorgio
    Oct 21, 2016 at 0:39
  • @Dennis why would OP have an I-797? I rather doubt she would. Dorothy: the limited purpose license is for people who can't prove legal immigration status, regardless of whether they have a social security number.
    – phoog
    Oct 21, 2016 at 1:58
  • @phoog I left that in b/c she's coming in as an H1B spouse and it's not clear from her other Q's whether she'll get the EAD. The limited is also issued to those here legally but not eligible for a social security card point three. Am I incorrect?
    – Giorgio
    Oct 21, 2016 at 2:05
  • 2
    Then you just have to bring your marriage certificate and the documents you used when you changed your name (originals). You can then have your social security info 'corrected.'
    – Giorgio
    Oct 21, 2016 at 15:02

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