International students who have an F-1 or J-1 visa are eligible to apply for a driver's license at the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) (Class D License).

If you already have a driver's license from another state, but would like to obtain a Massachusetts driver's license, you must still pay all of the application, testing, and license fees for Massachusetts, regardless of whether you must take a road test. Generally, if you hold a license from most foreign countries, you will need to pass both the written and the road tests. Read the sections below for more information about the process.

Please note that this information is provided for general guidance only. It is your responsibility to consult official Massachusetts State RMV information and to abide by all applicable state and federal laws.


Getting a Learner’s Permit

Students with a Driver's License from their Home Country

Driving Lessons and Schools

How to Apply for a Driver's License or Permit

Driving with a Foreign License


Getting a Learner's Permit

The learner’s permit written test fee covers the cost of processing your application and administering your test. If you fail the test or your permit expires, you will be charged this fee again for another test. You'll need to study the Driver's Manual in order to prepare for the written test. Be sure that you check the Learner's Permit Checklist to make sure that you have all of the documents you need before you go to the Registry. 

Students with a Driver's License from their Home Country

The Registry indicates that if a student has a home country license, the student is allowed to drive in Massachusetts for one year from the date of entry if the license was issued by a country which signed the Road Traffic Convention of 1949. A complete list of countries which are signatories to this agreement is available in the Massachusetts State Driver's Manual. If your home country license is not in English, you should also carry either an International Driver's License or an English translation (which should be signed by a bilingual Notary Public). For more information on International Driving Permits, International Driver's Licenses and Driving Privileges for Foreign Licensed Drivers, see the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Driving Lessons and Schools

If you don't know how to drive, you will need to contact a local driving school and arrange to take driving lessons.

How to Apply for a Driver's License or Permit

Where to Apply

You must apply by going to a Registry of Motor Vehicles location in Massachusetts. The four locations closest to the Amherst College campus are: Easthampton, Chicopee, Greenfield, and Springfield. Please note that all services are not necessarily available at all locations. It is important to check with the individual branch ahead of time.

What You Will Need When You Apply
  • A completed application form
  • Your passport and most recent I-94 (to prove your visa status)
  • Your current I-20
    • Please note that you must have been issued and I-20 that is valid for at least one year in order to apply in Massachusetts.  If the program dates on your I-20 reflect a period of time shorter than one year, you will not be eligible.
  • Your social security card (you must have the card; knowing the number will not be enough), or a social security administration form indicating that your application for a social security number was denied. (To Request a "Social Security Denial Letter," visit the Social Security Office in person and you will be presented a denial letter the same day of your request.)
  • A letter provided by the Registrar's Office confirming your full-time student status and residency in Massachusetts. To obtain this letter, please complete the Certification Request Form. In the "Special Instructions" field, be sure to note the reason for your request and that you need the letter to confirm your enrollment status, your date of birth, and your residency in Massachusetts and campus street address.
  • Proof of birthdate (this will be included in the letter from the Registar's Office)
  • Proof of signature (this will be on the application form. However, you must bring something-- such as a cancelled check -- that can be used to compare/verify your signature. If you do not have a cancelled check, here is a list of acceptable documents which you should consult to find another document for "proof of signature.")
  • Proof of residence (This will be included in the letter from the Registrar's Office)
  • $30 fee for permits/$50.00 fee for the driver's license (you may pay with a credit card, cash, or a check made out to "Registry of Motor Vehicles")
Scheduling a Road Test

To obtain your driver's license, you must pass a driving test or "road test."

Road Test Fee

There is a fee of $35 for each road test. The RMV charges this flat fee for any license application. If you fail the road test, fail to appear for the road test, or fail to cancel your appointment with more than 24 hours notice, you will still be charged the fee. You must pay this fee for each road test you take or fail to cancel properly.

Scheduling a Road Test

Once you have passed the written Learner's Permit test, you must schedule your road test ahead of time with the RMV. Remember: In order to do the road test you must have access to an automobile and have a licensed driver to accompany you. The College does not supply a vehicle (or a licensed driver) for this purpose! If you have taken driving lessons at a local driving school, the instructor will accompany you to the road test and you will be able to use the driving school's vehicle to take the road test. They may also help you arrange the appointment.

 

Driving with a Foreign License

According to the Registry of Motor Vehibles (RMV), licensed drivers from any country may operate validly registered motor vehicles in Massachusetts (per Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 90, Section 10, effective as of July 2018).

  • Foreign license holders who wish to drive in Massachusetts are subject to the following requirements:
  • Must be at least 16 years of age
  • Must be in possession of a valid driver’s license from their home country
  • May drive a vehicle in Massachusetts of the same class indicated on the foreign license
  • Must have either an International Driving Permit (IDP) or the Translation into English of a Foreign Driver License which is an acceptable alternative document if the foreign license is not in English or does not have an English translation
  • Driver’s license must not be suspended or revoked


IDPs and Acceptable Alternative Documents
An International Driving Permit (IDP) is a translation of a driver’s license into ten major languages. It does not convey any driving privileges but must accompany a foreign license if the license is not in English.

If a foreign-licensed driver does not have an IDP, the license holder must obtain the Translation into English of a Foreign Driver License alternative document that properly identifies the license holder and translates the relevant license information into English. This form can be found on Mass.gov/RMV in the “Learner’s permit, driver’s license and ID card forms” section.

Either an IDP or the alternative document must accompany any foreign license that is not in English.

Please refer to the Massachusetts Drivers’ Manual which can be found on the Registry of Motor Vehicle’s website at mass.gov/rmv for more information.