How Internationals Can Get a Pennsylvania Driver's License

How To Get a PA Driver's License  -- First-Time PA License (or State ID)

NOTE: Internationals who do not qualify for a Pennsylvania Driver's License but who are in legal status in the U.S. can drive for one year with a valid foreign driver's license.  It is recommended that they also have an international driving permit.

To be eligible for a Pennsylvania Driver’s License, you must have at least 11 months (preferably 12 months or more) left before your I-20 or DS-2019 program end date.

Internationals and their spouses who have never had a driver's license or state ID in any state in the U.S. must take the following steps:

STEP 1: Complete Page 1 of  Form DL-180: Non-Commercial Learner's Permit Application.

STEP 2: Go to a physician, physician assistant, certified registered nurse practitioner or chiropractor for a physical examination and have them complete Page 2 (back) of the DL-180.  

  • NOTE: This is not required for a Pennsylvania State ID
  • Enrolled students and scholars who have purchased the Penn State Student Insurance Plan can request a physical exam at University Health Services (814) 863-0774.

STEP 3: Obtain your Social Security card or request a Letter of Ineligibility, also referred to as a denial letter, from the Social Security Administration (SSA) stating that you are not eligible for a Social Security card. University Park students should go to the Social Security Administration located at 901 University Drive, Suite 2, State College, PA 16801. Commonwealth Campus students should check the Social Security Administration’s website to locate the closest office.

NOTE: If the letter from the SSA office is rejected by the Driver’s License office (PennDOT), please contact a DISSA adviser for help.

STEP 4: Gather the following original documents:

  • The completed DL-180
  • Valid Passport
  • Most recent I-94
  • Immigration documents (one of these, unless otherwise noted): 
    • Valid I-20 or DS-2019
    • Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card (in addition to your I-20 or DS-2019)
    • I-797, Notice of Action

NOTE: See also PennDOT’s Fact Sheet: Identification and Legal Presence Requirements for Non-United States Citizens (PUB 195NC) for a more comprehensive list of document requirements.

  • Two acceptable proofs of residency in Pennsylvania, such as:
    • utility bills
    • bank statement
    • proof of on-campus housing
    • lease, etc.       

STEP 5: Prepare a check or money order payable to PennDOT for the appropriate amount. Cash is not accepted. See PennDOT fees.

STEP 6: Go to the PennDOT Photo and Exam Center in person. You cannot apply online.

NOTE: See also PennDOT’s Get a Driver License for more information.

PENNSYLVANIA STATE DRIVER’S LICENSE RENEWALS

If you already have held a Pennsylvania driver’s license, please see PennDOT’s Driver License Renewal.

CENTRE COUNTY PENNDOT PHOTO & EXAM CENTER

The closest PennDOT Photo & Exam Center to University Park is located at:

812 West College 
Pleasant Gap, PA  16823

Phone: (800) 932-4600

(On Route 26 outside of Pleasant Gap – past the Nittany Mall)

Hours of Operation

Photo License Center: Open Monday through Saturday from 8:30am to 4:15pm. They are open later on Thursdays until 6:00pm.

Driver's License Center: Open Tuesday through Saturday from 8:30am to 4:15pm.

OTHER PENNDOT LOCATIONS

Commonwealth Campus students should visit PennDOT’s website to find the closest Driver and Photo License Center and the hours of operation.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Get a Driver License

Driver License Renewal

Fact Sheet: Identification and Legal Presence Requirements for Non-United States Citizens

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Information on Driver’s License, Car Registration, and Insurance

Pennsylvania Residency Requirements for Driver’s Licenses

Pennsylvania Driver’s License Manual

Pennsylvania Driver’s License Application

Pennsylvania Driver’s License or Photo Centers

Social Security Office Locator