In which states can you get a license without documents?

Living without a car in Texas is impossible. Texans commute nearly an hour each day to and from work. If you fall into this statistic, then you know that it is illegal in the United States to travel without a license, and in Texas you are required by law to have car insurance, which you cannot purchase without a form of identification. For undocumented residents this can be difficult, since in Texas they cannot get a driver’s license. Each state has its own requirements for obtaining a license, and several if they allow undocumented residents to apply for driver’s licenses.

Why get a driver’s license?

If you can, getting a license is important because driving a car without one is illegal, and it can get you into trouble if you’re pulled over by a police officer. That is why if you are an undocumented immigrant, having some type of driver’s license or permit could save you from having a police officer call ICE. Lastly, having a license can help you when shopping for auto insurance, as many companies require your driver’s license information.

Do you want to know which states have the least restrictions for immigrants to obtain their licenses? First, let’s review what the current requirements are in Texas.

Requirements to apply for a license in Texas

The Texas Department of Public Safety says that to apply for a license, you must show:

  • Proof of US citizenship or legal presence (such as a passport, birth certificate, or green card)
  • Proof of Texas residency (such as a lease, mortgage statement, utility bill, health or medical card)
  • Proof of identity (such as a Texas license or photo ID, US passport book or card, US certificate of citizenship, US military photo ID)
  • Proof of social security number (such as a social security card, W-2, 1099 form, or pay stub with applicant’s name and SSN)
  • Evidence of Texas vehicle registration* for each vehicle you own. The record must be current.
  • Proof of Insurance* for each vehicle you have (apply for auto insurance quickly on your cell phone with Sigo Seguros).

*If you do not have a vehicle, you will only have to sign a statement affirming that.

To see a complete list of documents needed in Texas, visit Texas.gov.

As we can see, in Texas it is not possible to apply for a license if you are an undocumented person. However, many states allow undocumented residents to apply for driver’s licenses. Which are? What is promised is debt, so let’s see.

These are the states where undocumented immigrants can obtain driver’s licenses, or their equivalent:

  • California – Under AB 60, undocumented immigrants can obtain a license in California without showing proof of legal presence. It’s just a matter of passing a written test, a driving test, and showing proof of car insurance. The AB 60 license is recognized by California authorities as valid identification. But beware! A driver’s license cannot be used to prove your identity when crossing borders into the United States.
  • Colorado – In Colorado, the law provides driver’s licenses to all its residents, regardless of legal status. To get a license as an undocumented person you will have to make an appointment in advance by calling 303-205-2335 or visiting the DMV website.
  • Connecticut – The state of Connecticut provides ‘Drive-Only’ licenses for drivers who cannot prove legal residency in the United States. To get a license you must first apply for a learner’s permit which can then be converted to a ‘Drive-Only’ license. Learner’s permits are required of all new license applicants, regardless of age.
  • Delaware – Undocumented residents of the state of Delaware can obtain a driver’s license. To apply for a driver’s license, the state requires a Delaware tax return or that you be listed on a Delaware tax return (as a dependent) to prove that you live in the state. To start applying for a license in Delaware, call the Delaware State Identification Office at 302-739-2528.
  • Hawaii – The state of Hawaii began providing ‘Limited Purpose Drivers Licenses’ for undocumented people in 2016. Undocumented immigrants can get a license in Hawaii without showing an insurance number but they will have to show proof that they live in the state.
  • Illinois – To apply for a license in Illinois, you will need to provide identification from your home country such as a valid passport or consular card. Illinois provides a special license for undocumented people called the Temporary Visitor Driver’s License (TVDL). Here is more information about the requirements to obtain a license in Illinois.
  • Maryland – According to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, undocumented immigrants can obtain a driver’s license. The requirements are: provide an identity document such as a valid foreign passport, taxes filed in Maryland for the previous two years and two residency documents (such as a bank statement with purchases and transactions in Maryland, a lease or receipts from Maryland sales).
  • Nevada – Nevada residents who cannot show legal status documents in the United States can apply for a Driver Authorization Card (DAC). This card expires every 4 years and expires on the driver’s date of birth. To see the list of documents required by the state, visit DMVNV.com
  • New York – The state of New York allows immigrants without a social security number to apply for a standard license. One of the requirements is that you sign an affidavit stating that you have never been given a social security number. In addition to the declaration, you must show a combination of documents that prove 1. your name, 2. your date of birth, and 3. your New York State residency.
  • New Jersey – State law in New Jersey allows undocumented immigrants to apply for a driver’s license. For immigrants who fear their data will be shared with federal authorities such as ICE, the law prohibits the state from disclosing information to any federal, state or local law enforcement agency for immigration purposes without the individual’s consent, a court order, a court order or a subpoena, unless such restriction is contrary to federal law.
  • New Mexico – Undocumented immigrants living in New Mexico have the opportunity to apply for a Standard License. To obtain a standard driver’s license, you will need to bring the following documents to a Department of Motor Vehicles office: One (1) proof of identity and age, and (2) proof of New Mexico residency.
  • Oregon – In January 2021, Oregon eliminated the requirement that a person need to show proof of legal status to apply for it. Watch this video with the steps to get a license in Oregon.
  • Utah – In Utah, a law was established that offers a one-year driver’s permit for undocumented immigrants. Immigrants without a Social Security number must prove residency in Utah for six months and provide a tax identification number. To view the documents needed to apply for a license in Utah, visit Utah.gov.
  • Vermont – According to the Department of Vehicles in Vermont, the state offers driver’s vehicle cards for those living in Vermont without legal status. This driving license is called a Driver’s Privilege Card (or DPC). Here is a list in Spanish of the documents required by the state to process a driver’s license.
  • Virginia – The state of Virginia provides a driver’s license for undocumented residents called the Driver Privilege Card. To apply, you must prove that you have earned income and deductions in Virginia, or that you are a dependent on a tax return. Your Virginia-based tax return may also be displayed.
  • Washington – The state of Washington offers licenses to residents without a social security number. It can be obtained as long as the driver has a document that proves their current residence in Washington. Here is a list of the requirements to apply for a license in Washington.
  • Washington DC – Beware! Washington DC is not the same as the state of Washington. Unlike the State of Washington, the capital of the United States, Washington D.C., is located on the East coast of the country. Washington DC created a driver’s license for residents of the District who have not been assigned a Social Security number or who cannot establish lawful presence in the United States.

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