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Driver's License / State ID

Eligibility Requirements for F-1 and J-1 Students and Spouses Obtaining a Driver's License or State I.D. in Pennsylvania 

First-time Licenses in the U.S.

International students and their spouses who have never had a driver's license from any state in the United States or state ID must provide the following:

  • For first-time Pennsylvania ID requests, collect items 1 - 5 and take to the Pennsylvania Driver's License Center.
  • For first-time Pennsylvania driver's license requests, collect items 1 - 6 and take to the Pennsylvania Driver's License Center.
  1. DISSA Letter:  A Driver's License/State ID letter from the Directorate of International Student and Scholar Advising (DISSA) confirming the student's enrollment in classes at Penn State requested in iStart.
  2. Documents:  Passport, visa, and I-94 card. (It does not matter if the visa in your passport has expired.)
  3. Valid I-20 or DS-2019:  The student's I-20 for those in F status or the student's DS-2019 for those in J status. Students and spouses must have at least eleven months (preferably 12 months or more) left before the completion date in section 5 of the I-20 or the end date in section 3 of the DS-2019 in order to qualify for an initial driver's license.  Students applying on OPT:  Students on Optional Practical Training (OPT) must present the EAD, and the applicant cannot go before the start date on the EAD.
  4. Proof of residing in Pennsylvania:  Two documents showing where you live. Preferred documents include leases, housing contracts or mortgage papers; utility bills; local bank statement; and W-2 tax forms. However, when students don't have two of these, the Driver's License Office has been willing to accept other documents, such as a letter from the University Housing Office mailed to their on-campus residence.
  5. Social Security Card or Letter of Ineligibility:  Social Security Card if you are eligible for a Social Security Number. Students who do not qualify for a Social Security Number must obtain a letter from the Social Security Office stating that ineligibility for one. The Driver's License Office will then use the Admission number on the I-94.  University Park students should go to 901 University Drive, Suite 2, State College, PA  16801.
  6. Physical or Health Exam:  Students at University Park can get a physical exam at the Student Health Center.  The doctor will complete the appropriate portion of the application.  To make an appointment for a driver's license physical exam, call 814-863-0774 or go on-line at www.studentaffairs.psu.edu/health and select Appointment scheduling under "My UHS for Access to ....."

Pennsylvania License Renewals

A Pennsylvania Driver's license can be renewed until the end date on the  I-20 or DS-2019 even if it is less than one year.  PennDOT will include the grace period (60 days for the F-1 and 30 days for the J-1).  Take items 1 - 3 to the DMV.

Transfer of Another State License to a Pennsylvania License or ID

Students or spouses must take items 1 - 5 above to the DMV plus license.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Students on OPT must take the EAD for all requests:  for new licenses take items 1 - 6 ; for transferring from another state license to a Pennsylvania license take items 1 - 5; or for renewing the Pennsylvania license take items 1 - 3.

International Driving Permit

Students who do not qualify for a Pennsylvania Driver's license can drive for one year if they have a valid foreign driver's license and an international driving permit.

Centre County PennDOT Photo & Exam Center

The closest PennDOT Photo & Exam Center to University Park campus is

812 West College Avenue
Pleasant Gap, PA  16823
(off Route 26 outside of Pleasant Gap -- past the Nittany Mall and Rockview Prison)
Telephone:  1-800-932-4600          URL  http://www.dmv.state.pa.us

Centre County PennDOT Photo & Exam Center hours of operation
 MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
Photo License Center8:30 am - 4:15 pm8:30 am - 4:15 pm8:30 am - 4:15 pm8:30 am - 6 pm8:30 am - 4:15 pm8:30 am - 4:15 pm
Driver's License CenterCLOSED8:30 am - 4:15 pm*8:30 am - 4:15 pm*8:30 am - 4:15 pm*8:30 am - 4:15 pm*8:30 am - 4:15 pm*
Best Times to VisitCLOSEDContinuous2 -3 pmContinuousContinuous2:30 - 3:30 pm

*Commercial Knowledge test only given until 2 p.m. because of length of test.

**DMV = Department of Motor Vehicles (general term in all states).  In Pennsylvania, frequently referred to as PennDOT (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation