Obtaining an Illinois Driver's License
For Students with Social Security Numbers
To drive in the US, you must have a valid driver's license issued by the state in which you live. To apply for a license:
- Visit an Illinois Secretary of State's Office. Make sure it offers driver's license services. Locations and services can be found at Chicago and Vicinity Driver Facilities.
- Visit the office early in the morning because the wait is usually long. The process takes at least two hours, longer on Mondays and Fridays.
- Bring your Social Security Card, passport, I-94 card, US Citizenship and Immigration documents (including your I-20 or DS-2019), and proof of your local Chicago address. This proof may be a piece of mail addressed to your Chicago address (e.g., utility bill) or a copy of your lease.
- Obtaining a driver's license costs $10, which must be paid at the time of application.
- You will be required to take vision and written tests and to have your photograph taken. For information on road rules and regulations in the state of Illinois, pick up a copy of Rules of the Road at OIP.
- You will be required to take a driving test if you do not have a driver's license from your home country or if you come from a country where people drive on the left side of the road. You must take the test in your own vehicle.
- If you fail the driving or written test, you may apply for the license again after further study. You will be given three additional chances to pass. You must pay the $10 fee each time you apply.
For more information, call 312.793.1010.
For Students Without Social Security Numbers
To obtain a Social Security Number (SSN), you must either have a job offer or an Employment Authorization Document. For more information, please see Obtaining a Social Security Number.
Even without an SSN, you may still apply for a temporary visitor driver's license if your non-immigrant status is F-1, F-2, J-1 or J-2. To apply for the temporary visitor license:
- Request a letter from the OIP stating that you do not have a job on campus.
- Obtain a Letter of Ineligibility for a Social Security Number (Form L-676) from the local Social Security Administration field office within 30 days of applying for the license. They will ask you to fill out an application for an SSN. Tell them you are only applying in order to obtain a letter of ineligibility so you can apply for a driver's license. We suggest visiting the Social Security Office in the South Loop at: 77 W. Jackson Boulevard. Take the CTA red line to the Jackson stop.
- Visit the Illinois Secretary of State Driver Services Temporary Visitor Driver's License Facility at: 5301 W. Lexington Ave. See office hours and available services on the Secretary of State Website.
- Bring your proof of automobile insurance, Form L-676, passport, I-94 card, US Citizenship and Immigration documents (including your I-20 or DS-2019), and proof of your local Chicago address. This proof may be a piece of mail addressed to your Chicago address (e.g., utility bill) or a copy of your lease. If you status is J-2 or F-2, bring your dependent I-20 or DS-2019, as well as your F-1's I-20 or your J-1's DS-2019.
- Take the written, vision and driving exams. Individuals applying for a learner's permit should take the written and vision exams only.
If you experience any difficulties or need assistance, please contact us.