Driver's license

A driver's license is needed if you want to drive a car while you are in Michigan. You have to wait at least 14 days after your I-20/DS-2019 has been activated before you can apply for a license, which provides time for all of your arrival information to be updated to appropriate databases. You cannot drive in Michigan using your driver's license from your home country.

You'll have to pass a written test, a road sign test, a vision test and a driving test. You can study the online manual What Every Driver Must Know to help prepare for the tests.

Michigan Secretary of State Office

You can take the tests at any Michigan Secretary of State Office. More information about how to complete these tests can be found on the Secretary of State website.

Required documents

Review the Secretary of State's required documents checklist for a complete list, which includes:

  • Proof of a valid Social Security number or letter of ineligibility from the Social Security Office.
    • If you are not eligible for a social security number, you can request a Letter of Ineligibility from the Social Security Administration. You must request the letter in-person at a Social Security office; we recommend that you visit the Social Security office in the McNamara Federal Building, located at 477 Michigan Ave. in Detroit. You will receive your letter on-the-spot and will not have to make a second trip to the office.
  • Proof of Michigan residency (see list of acceptable documents)
  • Valid passport
  • Valid visa
  • I-94
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • I-797 if you are changing status


After presenting your documents, you will take the written tests and vision test, then pay the $25 driver's license fee. If you pass the tests, you'll receive a temporary instruction permit. This permit requires you to wait at least 30 days before taking the driving test. During those 30 days, you can practice driving if you have a licensed driver who is at least 18 years old in the car with you.

If you provide your driver's license from your home country, with a certified English translation, you can skip the waiting period and you can take the driving skills test. Review the online Driving Skills Test Study Guide to help you prepare.

You must take the road skills test with a company on the list of Michigan Department of State Driving Skills Testing Organizations. You can call several companies to compare costs for taking the test. Some companies let you rent a car for the test, while others require you to provide a fully insured car. Ask about the requirements when you are comparing costs.

After passing the driving skills test, you will return to the Secretary of State office with your documents, Temporary Instruction Permit and Skills Test Certificate. You'll receive a temporary license to use until you receive your license in the mail.