Driving in the U.S.

If you plan to drive a car in the U.S., you must have a valid U.S. license and car insurance.

No. Because you intend to remain in the U.S. for more than thirty days, Ohio law enforcement views you as a “resident” for driving law purposes. That means you must obtain an Ohio driver license. 

If you have a valid license from another U.S. state, you will need to obtain an Ohio driver license within 30 days of establishing residency. Generally, you are considered a resident by Ohio law enforcement for driving purposes if you are a student here and do not have a permanent residence in another U.S. state.  

If you have not obtained a driver license in the U.S. before, you will need to take a written driver’s test and apply for a Temporary Instruction Identification Card (TIPIC).  To study for the written test, review the Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws. You can also practice the written test.  

No appointment for the written test is needed.  But, you should gather your documents and money for fees before heading to the nearest Driver Examination Station. Review the list of accepted documents, applicable fees, and the examination station locations and hours.

The Temporary Instruction Identification Card, also known as Temporary Permit, allows you to get practice driving before you apply for your permanent driver’s license.  While driving on the Temporary Permit, you must have a licensed driver, over the age of 21 in the passenger seat at all times. 

A designated practice driving area is available on campus. Students may check out a weekend driver’s pass and a BMV manual from The Office of International Affairs located at 140 Enarson Classroom Building on Fridays between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. only. To check out the materials and receive the location of the practice driving area, students will need to bring a paper copy of their temporary driving permit, as well as a copy of the driver’s license of whomever will be in the car with them and their proof of auto insurance.  By state law, that person much be age 21 or over. Students should display the pass in the window of the car while practicing over the weekend. 

NOTE: You must have a campus parking pass to park on campus in designated lots.  

After you have practiced driving on the Temporary Permit and feel comfortable enough to take the required driving test, call a Driver Examination Station to schedule a driving test. On the day of the driving test, take your Temporary Permit and all other documentation needed, money for fees, and a reliable car in good condition for the test.  The driving test is two parts – driving and maneuverability.  Once you pass your driving test, you can obtain your permanent driver license.  

You need car insurance whenever you are driving a car, whether on a Temporary Permit or with your permanent driver license.  You need car insurance if you are driving your own car, a friend’s car, someone else’s car, or a rental car.  

You must purchase the minimum amount of car insurance required by Ohio law.  Student Legal Services highly recommends that you purchase more than the state minimum coverage.  If your car is damaged by a person who does not have car insurance and you purchased minimum coverage for yourself, your minimum coverage will not pay for the damages to your car.  

Student Legal Services urges you to buy car insurance from an insurance agent.  We do not recommend that you purchase car insurance from the internet.  You should speak directly to an agent and review your circumstances so that the agent can advise you about the best coverage for you.  SLS has compiled a list of local agents for students.