Jun 21, 2024  
International Student Handbook 
International Student Handbook

Driver’s License



 US Driver’s License

International students or other non-US citizens may apply for a United States (US) Driver’s License or State Identification (ID) card with the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), also referred to as Florida Driver’s Services and Florida Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). 

  • International students may drive with a license from their country of origin for no longer than 90 days (3 months) in the US before obtaining a driver’s license issued by the state of Florida. However, there are limitations - please view them here.
  • You must provide a vehicle for the driving test. The car must have a valid tag, proof of insurance, and pass a vehicle inspection.

  • During the driving test, the examiner will observe your ability to control the vehicle and your compliance with traffic laws.

How long is my US driver’s license valid?

US driver’s licenses are valid only as long as an international student is maintaining a valid nonimmigrant visa (NIV) status: 

  • F-1 students who have completed a course of study or optional practical training can be granted a license for an additional 60-day period to prepare for departure or to process a transfer.

  • J-1 students and scholars who have completed an exchange visitor program can obtain an additional 30-day period.

  • Dependents of F-1 or J-1 students and scholars (i.e., dependents in F-2 or J-2 status) are allowed the same period of driver’s license validity as the F-1 or J-1 students and scholars.

How to obtain a Driver’s License or State ID

Non-immigrants renewing, replacing, or applying for a new driver’s license or ID card must view the following list of what documentation is required to apply (Canadian Students Only - What to Bring List):

Where are the nearest driver’s license departments?

There are currently four driver’s license offices in Polk County.  The closest location to Florida Poly is approximately 5 miles from campus (Other FLHSMV Locations):

Lakeland Driver’s License & Motor Vehicle Services Office
916 N. Massachusetts Ave.
Lakeland, FL 33801

Phone: 1+863-534-4700
Driver’s License Services: Mon-Fri | 8:30 am-4:00 pm
Motor Vehicle Services: Mon-Fri | 8:30 am-5:00 pm

*Driver License and ID Card services are offered by appointment only - please visit www.polktaxes.com

 Purchasing a Car in the United States

You must have a valid driver’s license to drive and own a car (vehicle/automobile/motor vehicle). Cars provide the most convenient way to get around the area.

  • It is recommended that you determine if you have the financial ability to cover the costs of purchasing the car and the additional expenses for insurance, driver’s license fees, fuel, and repairs.

  • If you do not have the finances available to cover these costs, then it is recommended that you do not purchase a car.


If you do decide to purchase a car, here are a few things you should consider before you do:

  • Take along a friend who has experience buying a car.

  • Do not be talked into buying a more expensive car than you can afford.

  • Test drive the vehicle yourself.

  • Please make sure the car is insured before you drive it.

  • Look for rust and dents on the car’s body; test the windshield wipers, windows, directional signals, heater, air conditioner, and head, tail, and brake lights to ensure they work.

  • Compare prices offered at the different car dealerships and used car lots.

  • Check the history of a used car to determine whether it has been utilized as a rental, taxi, police, or family car. 

    • Car Fax is an excellent source for pulling a vehicle’s history for a fee.

  • Remember to register your car with Florida Poly to obtain your parking decal and avoid parking tickets.

 Auto Insurance

Automobile (auto) insurance is necessary since the automobile owner is financially responsible for damage to property or injury to another person in case of an accident. The State of Florida requires that all car owners have at least personal injury protection (P.I.P.) insurance to protect them from liability for injury, death, or damage to another party.

  • Other forms of insurance are collision, which compensates the car owner in case of an accident with another car, and comprehensive, which covers losses from vandalism or theft.

Private insurance companies are listed online and can be found by typing “auto insurance” into a search engine. You should consult at least three different insurance agents before choosing a policy to get the best price.

  • Several factors, such as the driver’s age and the car’s value, determine the cost of the insurance policy.