How to Get a Driver License Without a Social Security Number

Posted by in Immigrants | Updated on September 7, 2022

A driver’s license is more than just a document that allows you to legally drive in the U.S. It is also used as an identification tool for processing major forms and applications. Even though obtaining a driver’s license with a Social Security Number (SSN) is easy, people who do not have an SSN often struggle to obtain one. Immigrants are most affected by this regulation.

On the bright side, things are changing, and some states are adopting the law of granting a driver’s license without an SSN, the latest addition being the state of New Jersey. In this article, we’ll explain how the regulation works and how you can get your driver’s license without a Social Security Number.

Can You Get a Driver’s License in the U.S. Without an SSN?

Whether or not you can get a driver’s license in the U.S. without an SSN depends on the state you reside in. Generally, to get a license, you have to meet certain requirements, submit an application form, pass the driving exam, and pay the fee.

Then there are additional documents required which vary from state to state. As part of the documentation, you’re required to submit a copy of your original Social Security card, which contains your unique Social Security Number. Some states, like Indiana, accept alternatives like a Form W-2.

Licenses and Undocumented Immigrants

An SSN is usually used to prove your immigration status. So undocumented immigrants suffer the most from a lack of an SSN and are not able to get a driver’s license for themselves. However, you can still manage to get a driver’s license without having an SSN by proving that you’re legally authorized to be in the U.S.

Where Can You Get a Driver’s License Without an SSN?

Some states grant a driver’s license without an SSN. To date, there are a total of 13 such States: California, Colorado, Delaware, Connecticut, New York, Utah, New Mexico, Maryland, Illinois, Vermont, Washington, and Hawaii.

Several states have introduced legislation to grant driver licenses to undocumented immigrants. These states are Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Kansas, and Oregon.

If you reside in any of the U.S. states not mentioned above, then chances are you will not get your driver’s license without an SSN. But if you are eligible, you must first apply for one.

How to Apply for a Driver’s License Without a Social Security Number

How to apply and get a driver’s license without an SSN varies from state to state. So you need to visit your respective state’s Department of Motor Vehicles official website to get the details. With that said, typically, the main goal is to provide another document that can be a substitute for your Social Security card. As already mentioned, you only need to prove that you’re legally allowed to live in the U.S. and that you can properly operate a vehicle.

Requirements Vary by State

For example, in Texas, you’re required to file an affidavit stating that either you don’t have an SSN, never were issued an SSN for any reason, or are ineligible to apply for one. You need to submit this affidavit while applying for the license. However, Texas will not issue the license if you’re ineligible to apply for an SSN.

In states like Connecticut and Illinois, you need to obtain a letter from the Social Security Administration that explicitly states you’re ineligible for an SSN and the reason for it.

California is much more flexible because you’re not required to submit an affidavit or official letter. You just need to submit documents to the California Department of Motor Vehicles stating that you’re legally allowed to stay in the U.S. These documents include, but are not limited to, a U.S. passport, certificate of naturalization, and permanent resident card (also known as a Green Card).

As you can see, the requirements for obtaining a driver’s license vary from state to state. So always check with your state’s Motor Vehicle Department first.

Additional Documents

Some of the additional documents needed may include other government-issued identity documents, state residence, and U.S. citizenship documents, military ID or birth certificate, mortgage agreements, etc. So be prepared to submit a range of documents with your application.

Driving Test

Besides submitting the required documents, officials will ask you to take a driving test to gauge your eligibility to drive. Of course, this is nationwide and mandatory. You need to successfully clear driving tests and road skills, vision tests, and a written driving law exam. This test might be waived if you already had a driver’s license in the past and if you can provide proof of that fact.

Advantages of Having a Driver’s License in the U.S.

A driver’s license is more than a document validating your eligibility to drive on U.S. roads. They open up a world of opportunities, especially if you’re an immigrant with improper documentation, including:

  • Access to an Official ID
  • Access to Loans
  • Access to Domestic Flights
  • Cheaper Car Insurance

Read on to learn about each of these benefits.

Access to an Official ID

The driver’s license also serves as a personal ID document. This is extremely valuable if you don’t have any other government-issued ID card. The driver’s license is generally accepted in most cases for identification purposes. With a license, you can open a bank account in the U.S., enroll yourself in school/college/universities, apply for government benefits, and more.

This document is important because it shows your photograph along with the contact information that officials at other organizations can use to identify you. Lastly, if you’re involved in an accident, then officers can identify you with your license and arrange immediate help.

Access to Loans

If you are applying for either federal or private loans, then a driver’s license will come in handy. This will serve as your identification, and the loan approval process will be swifter. You can also apply for payday loans and other types of loans with your driver’s license.

Access to Domestic Flights

All domestic carriers use driver’s licenses, among other documents, for booking tickets. Passports are only necessary for booking international flight tickets. Since the driver’s license will act as an identification document, you can use it to book domestic flights to and from anywhere in the U.S. This is extremely useful for immigrants who need to travel long distances in the U.S. for personal or professional reasons.

Cheaper Car Insurance

Most car insurers are skeptical of insuring drivers with foreign country-issued driver’s licenses. In some states, it is simply not valid. But with a U.S. government-issued driver’s license, you can obtain car insurance services with ease. Better yet, you will also obtain the cheapest of the insurance services with other insurance carriers once you have longer insurance history.

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Final Thoughts

More and more states and city authorities as easing the process of obtaining a driver’s license for immigrants. While there is possible controversy and backlash surrounding this, supporters feel it will benefit America as a whole in the long term. This includes a reduction in crimes, hit-and-run cases, and better living standards among immigrants. So you can expect more states to offer driver’s licenses without a Social Security Number in the near future.