International students, scholars, and employees may legally drive in Florida for 30 days with an unexpired, valid driver’s license and international driver’s license issued from your home country (the international driver’s license cannot be issued to non-U.S. citizens inside the U.S.). A Florida driver’s license will be required after the 30 days. Drivers may also be eligible for lower insurance rates once they have obtained a U.S. driver’s license.
Students’ or scholars’ F-1 or J-1 immigration record will need to be registered/validated in SEVIS by their immigration advisor (at the Center for Global Engagement (CGE) or at your sponsoring agency – IIE, LASPAU, Amideast) at least 10 days prior to applying for a learner’s permit or driver’s license. F-2 and J-2 dependent records often cannot be found or cannot be verified during the driver’s license application process. In these cases, the dependent will need to ask the Tax Collector’s office to submit a Form G-845, Document Verification Request, to the government, for manual review of their record. It is not possible for the CGE, your immigration advisor, or the CBP office in Jacksonville to assist further with this communication problem between the Florida DMV and the federal government’s system, if the primary F-1 or J-1 record has already been registered or validated and all information on the dependent’s I-94 appears correct.
Those who are learning to drive and who have never held a driver’s license will need to obtain a Restricted License or Learner’s Permit and always drive with a licensed driver in the car, prior to obtaining the unrestricted driver’s license. There is one driving school in Tallahassee that offers “behind the wheel” driving classes, meaning they teach you how to drive in one of their vehicles.
At the Department of Motor Vehicles, international students, scholars, or employees can apply for either a Driver License or a State of Florida ID card, but not both. For detailed instructions, see the CGE’s Driver License Brochure or visit the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website.