Obtaining a Driver's License

Before buying a car, consider if this is an urgent or important need. Owning a car can be both a financial liability and a safety hazard. ISSS strongly encourages students to consider using other transportation options (public transportation, carpools, bicycles) instead of purchasing a car.

What is a driver’s license? How do I get one?

In Ohio, it is illegal to drive a car without a driver’s license and car insurance.

It is not possible to obtain a driver’s license directly. You must first obtain a temporary instruction permit before obtaining a driver’s license (see below for more details). Only after obtaining a driver’s license are you allowed to drive a car by yourself.

WHAT IF I HAVE A LICENSE FROM MY HOME COUNTRY?

Some international students may already have a driver's license issued by their home country. They often wonder if it is required for them to also apply for a U.S. driver's license. 

According to the Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws (page 14), international students may drive up to one year maximum with their own valid national driver's license. This privilege is made possible by the United Nations Convention on Road Traffic. After the one-year limit has passed, it is mandatory to obtain a U.S. driver's license. 

Some local police or highway patrol officers may be unfamiliar with this provision of the Ohio motor vehicle laws. To prevent possible misunderstandings, we recommend students also carry an International Driving Permit, but this is not required.

What is car insurance? How do I buy it?

You must purchase car insurance before driving. As you consider what auto insurance coverages are right for you, keep in mind that Ohio has required minimum coverage levels.

Coverage State Requirements Most Common
Bodily Injury Liability 12,500/25,000* 100,000/300,000
Property Damage Liability 7,500* 100,000
Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Not required* 100,000/300,000
Medical Payments Not required* 5,000
Collision Not required* 500 deductible
Comprehensive Not required* 0 deductible


Below are three popular U.S. car insurance companies:

Allstate
Geico
SafeAuto

HOW TO OBTAIN A DRIVER'S LICENSE

The process of obtaining a driver’s license can be summarized as follows:

1. Take a driver education course
2. Prepare required documentation
3. Take the written test
4. Take the driving test

Take a Driver's Education Course

A driver's education course is designed to teach new drivers fundamental skills and basic knowledge about driving a car. While this is not required to obtain a driver's license, we strongly encourage students to consider it for your safety and the safety of others.

D&D Driving Schools is a local company that specializes in driver education courses. D&D offers a special driver education program that includes:

1. Three 2 hour classes that students can take at their leisure. These classes cover

  • Signs and signals
  • Intersections
  • Visual skills

2. One 2-hour behind the wheel session. An expert will accompany you on your drive and evaluate your driving.

The cost of this program is $90. To register, contact D&D at 937-294-7206. Their offices are located at 3125 Wilmington Pike, Kettering, OH 45429.

Prepare Required Documentation

Take the following documentation with you to the written and driving tests:

  • Passport
  • U.S. visa
  • I-94
  • I-20 (F-1 students) or DS-2019 (J-1 students)
  • A recent bank, utility, cellphone, or credit card statement that clearly shows your name and current address

Prepare for the Written Test

Read the Digest of Ohio Motor Laws to prepare for the written exam. When you are ready to take the written exam, go to

6134 Chambersburg Rd.
Huber Heights, OH 45424
(937) 233-7211

Tue-Fri: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Sat: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

No appointment is necessary. Arrive at least one hour before closing.

If you pass the written test, you will be issued a temporary instruction permit which authorizes you to drive only when a licensed driver is seated in the front seat. A temporary instruction permit does not allow you to drive alone. You must be accompanied by a licensed driver.

Prepare for the Driving Test

Read the Digest of Ohio Motor Laws to prepare for the driving exam.

When you are ready to take the driving test, schedule an appointment online or by calling the number below:

6134 Chambersburg Rd.
Huber Heights, OH 45424
(937) 233-7211

Tue-Fri: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Sat: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.