Public transportation is limited in the Plymouth, New Hampshire area and many students make the decision to drive while they attend school here. Driving is a privilege, not a right, when in the United States. There are specific laws and regulations pertaining to driving in NH and it is vital that all drivers know and understand their responsibilities. Although simply having a driver’s license from your home country and an international driving permit is acceptable for a brief amount of time, New Hampshire state law requires that any person residing in NH for 6 months or more who intends to drive, must have a NH driver’s license. This is the law for any driver in New Hampshire, not only foreign citizens. Driving laws and regulations vary by state in the United States.
- If you have a driver’s license from your home country, and you obtain an international driver’s license before you leave home, you can legally drive in New Hampshire for your first 60 days. Before the end of your first 60 days, you will need to apply for a New Hampshire driver’s license. You will take a written exam as well as a road driving test, and you also must pass a basic vision (eye) test. Please read the New Hampshire Driver’s Manual to fully prepare:
New Hampshire Drivers Manual
- If you have a valid license from another US state, you simply need to pay a fee to exchange your license from that state for a New Hampshire license. NOTE: If you have a valid license from Canada or France, you can apply for NH license without testing.
New Hampshire Drivers Manual
Before you go to the New Hampshire DMV (23 Hazen Drive, Concord, NH 03305), you need the following:
- Valid Passport
- I-20 (F-1 Students) or DS-2019 (J-1 Students)
- Most Recent I-94
- Proof of Residency (cannot be a PO Box). Please refer to DMV Residency Regulations AND A Letter of Enrollment from Plymouth State (GEO can provide your Letter of Enrollment and your Proof of Residency if you live on campus)
- Social Security Card OR ***Social Security Denial (SSA-L676-Refusal to Process SSN)
- Driver’s License from home country or Licensed Driver’s Education Course Certificate of Completion
- Driver’s License Application and Application Fee
***Social Security Denial: If you are not eligible for a SSN, but would like to obtain a driver’s license (which requires a SSN) you can instead apply for a Social Security Denial. The Social Security Denial can be presented to government agencies (like the NH DMV) to prove your ineligibility for a SSN and support that your ineligibility should not restrict you from obtaining service.
Follow the steps below to obtain a Social Security Denial:
Step 1: Visit the Global Engagement Office to obtain a letter stating you are not eligible at this time for a SSN (to be eligible, you need paid employment).
Step 2: Apply for a Social Security Denial at the Social Security Administration (70 Commercial St #100, Concord, NH 03301)
Take the following documents to the Social Security Administration (SSA):
-GEO Letter stating you are not eligible for a SSN
-I-20 or DS-2019
-Most Recent I-94
Be sure to check the hours of the SSA office before you go!
Important information can be found on the following websites:
Driving in the US — A general guide from the US Dept of State and Homeland Security
NH Dept of Motor Vehicles — Specific information for non-US citizens residing in the State of New Hampshire
Driving Schools in NH — A comprehensive list of all driver’s education programs in the state
Driver Education Database — A free service to help you prepare for the NH Drivers Knowledge test
Other information related to driving in NH and the US may be found on the Resources for Students page