Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV)

International students and scholars may apply to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles for a Massachusetts Driver’s Permit, License, or Massachusetts ID card. Often students and scholars apply for a Driver’s Permit first and later obtain a full Driver’s License once they understand the many rules and regulations of driving in the US.  Handbooks are available on the RMV website.

Massachusetts state law requires that all applicants be eligible to stay in the United States for at least 12 months from the date of application to the RMV for their license, permit or Mass ID.  Apply early to avoid difficulty with this requirement. The ISSO recommends the following timelines for students considering OPT and who may want the option to drive to their job:

  • Undergraduates planning to obtain OPT after graduation should apply for a Driver’s License by the end of their junior year.
  • Graduate students who are here for a two-year program and plan to apply for OPT should apply for their license by the end of their first year.

NOTE:  Students, scholars, and their dependents who are here less than one year are not eligible for a MA Driver’s License.

If you do not have a Social Security number, you will need to obtain one, if you are eligible, or bring a Social Security denial letter. Please see the Social Security section of our website for more details on required documentation.  If you are not able to obtain the required documentation for an SSN, you will receive a denial letter. .In order to apply for a Massachusetts Permit/License, you must be able to provide the following documentation:     

  • Proof of Massachusetts residency
  • Verification of your signature
  • Proof of date of birth

You can find more information and a list of acceptable documents on the MA RMV website.

If you discover that you are not eligible for a MA Permit/License, students and scholars from certain countries can drive in the United States for up to 12 months from the date of entry with your license from your home country and an International Driving Permit.  You can review the 1949 Road Traffic Convention to see if your country of citizenship is eligible for this.  If your country is not listed, you should not drive without a Driver’s License from a state in the United States.

If you have questions about this or have difficulty with the Registry of Motor Vehicles, please contact ISSO.