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Are undocumented immigrants able to get a driver’s license?


The rules for undocumented immigrants to have a driver’s license are varying. Each state has its own rules and guidelines. We’ll help you answer significant questions about this topic and learn what undocumented immigrants need to do to obtain a driver’s license.

Each state has a Department of Motor Vehicles (or DMV) and they are in charge of motor vehicle registration and issuing driver’s licenses. Every DMV is ruled by its own state regulations; however, they are not able to disclose records to any agency that primarily enforces immigration law without a lawful court order or judicial warrant.

Today there are eighteen states that offer tools for immigrants to operate a vehicle safely. These states want to guarantee that people can train, test, and insure their vehicles regardless of their undocumented status, in order to promote public safety. 

Undocumented immigrants can apply for a driver’s license in these states, as well as in the District of Columbia:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington 

Frequently asked questions:

What type of documentation do I need to apply for a driver’s license?

These states and DC will issue a license to anyone without proof of lawful presence if they’re able to show identification and certain documents such as a foreign birth certificate, unexpired passport, or consular evidence of current residency in the state. Your name must be clearly shown in the documents you submit.

Do I need a Social Security Number to apply for a driver’s license?

Short answer is no, when you apply in any of the above states. Additionally, some states will allow the DMV to accept tax identification numbers (ITIN) (Link to article) as substitutes. 

How much time will my driver’s license be valid for?

Each state has a different period of validity Here:

Will my driver’s license be a real identification?

Your DL can be used to insure your vehicle and is a form of identification, but it must not be confused with a Real ID, see Here:

Driver’s License VS Real ID

A Real ID is a federal ID that can only be obtained if you are a US citizen. As of May 2025 (according to the most updated information), new rules on which forms of identification may be used to board domestic flights and enter some federal facilities will apply. REAL ID is easy to recognize because they have a star in the upper right-hand corner. 

A driver’s license obtained by an undocumented immigrant will read: Federal Limits apply. This means it is a federal non-compliant driver’s license and not eligible for REAL ID.

Remember that driver’s licenses are issued according to state and local government agencies and do not need to be REAL ID-compliant. Make sure to check what your state of residence requests Here

Some people say having a driver’s license is essential to your wallet. If you live in one of these eighteen states, take advantage of the benefits of applying to one. A driver’s license will not only prevent you from running the risk of any legal impact in case of a car accident but also serve as your primary identification. 

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