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How to Apply for a Driver's License

Drivers License Frequently Asked Questions- Driving in South Carolina

1. What is required to apply for a driver license?
F and J visa holders must complete the international student check-in process in order to be eligible for a SC driver license. Once you have completed check-in, you will need to bring the following documents to the SC Department of Motor Vehicles in order to apply for your driver license:

  • Enrollment verification letter — you can collect this form from the Registrar's Office in 102 Sikes Hall. Please note, you must have your local, physical address (where you live) on the form. You can ask that the Registrar's office type it on the form before printing it for you.
  • I-20/ DS-2019 Form
  • Visa
  • Passport
  • I-94 record 
  • Social Security card or denial letter (denial letter must be stamped by the Social Security Administration (SSA)- for questions regarding Social Security, refer to the Employment link to the left)

Dependent (Spouses, children):

  • Enrollment verification letter of F or J primary visa holder
  • DMV will check visa to see dependent SEVIS name and ID
  • I-20/DS-2019 Form
  • Visa
  • Passport
  • I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
  • Social Security card or denial letter (must be stamped by the SSA)

2. Can I transfer my current license from another country?
Yes, if you possess an international driver license and a country license from a country with reciprocity. Countries with reciprocity are listed on page 19 of the South Carolina Driver Handbook.

3. How can I translate my existing driver license from my home country?

  • Must complete 4030-Translation Form.
  • Translation certificate can be signed any certified translator
  • The translator that completes the 4030 must have a letter of verification from their employer on letterhead qualifying them as a translator.
  • No translation needed for International Driving License.
  • No translation needed for English Language Driver License.
  • If driver license is translated on the document no translation is required.

4. Will I be required to take a driver exam or knowledge test?

  • If you possess only a foreign country license from a country without reciprocity you will be required to pass a knowledge test and then a driver exam to obtain your license.
  • If you have only an international driver license you will have to have a beginner permit for 6 months, take a knowledge test, and driver exam.
  • Without either an international driver license or country license, you will have to begin with a beginner’s permit, take a knowledge test, and a driver exam.

5. Can I drive alone with a beginner’s permit?
No. Students driving with beginner’s permits must have an adult above the age of 21 with a South Carolina driver license in the car at all times.

6. What should I expect once I am approved for a license?
After passing your exams, you will receive a paper license which is valid for driving only inside of South Carolina. The permanent license will arrive in 60 days at which point you can use this license to drive within the U.S.

7. Can I extend my driver license for the grace period after my F or J visa program?
Only students seeking post-completion OPT or the 24 month OPT extension may extend the driver license after the program end date listed on the first page of the I-20. Students who are not seeking OPT may not extend for the grace period per South Carolina law. Dependents of students seeking OPT are also eligible for extensions of the driver license.

8. Are there any resources available online about the permit test or driver's handbook?
Yes, the SC DMV has provided the following resources as great tools, and  

If you have additional questions, please contact the Department of Motor Vehicles directly. Contact information for the Seneca and Greenville DMV is listed below.

Seneca DMV
13009 South Radio Station Road
Seneca, SC 29678
Phone: 864-882-8698
Weekdays Open: Monday - Friday
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday Hours: 8:30am - 5:00pm
Wednesday Hours: 9:30am - 5:00pm

Greenville DMV
DMV Office #2 Greenville, South Carolina
15 Saluda Dam Road
Greenville, SC 29611
Phone: (864) 241-1147
Weekdays Open: Monday - Friday
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday Hours: 8:30am - 5:00pm
Wednesday Hours: 9:30am - 5:00pm