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Identification & Driver’s License

A driver’s license is the primary form of identification (ID) in each state in the U.S., including Massachusetts. It may be convenient to have a driver’s license while living in the U.S., even if you do not intend to drive.

Eligible Massachusetts residents may be able to obtain a Massachusetts driver’s license regardless of immigration status.

Discover the latest information, resources, and updates regarding the RMV application process.

Using your passport for identification within the U.S. is not recommended, as:

  • Your passport may not always be accepted as a form of identification in the U.S.

  • Passports are difficult to replace if lost or stolen

  • The primary forms of identification within the U.S. are the Massachusetts driver’s license and Massachusetts identification card

Massachusetts driver's license

You must have a valid driver’s license to drive in the U.S. Massachusetts driver’s licenses can also be used as the primary method of identification within the U.S. You may obtain a Massachusetts driver's license for identification purposes, even if you do not intend to drive in the U.S.

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is responsible for all Massachusetts driver's licenses and driving permits. If you plan to drive in the U.S., the Massachusetts RMV advises you to obtain a Massachusetts driver’s license within 30 days of moving to Massachusetts. If you have a driver’s license from another U.S. state, you should convert it to a Massachusetts driver’s license.

Using your driver's license from your home country

Foreign licensed drivers from any country may operate a validly registered motor vehicle in Massachusetts, if they meet certain requirements.

Below is additional guidance on using your driver’s license from your home country:

  • We recommend carrying a print copy of the requirements from, if you will be using your foreign driver's license in Massachusetts

  • An international driving permit/license is not recognized in Massachusetts, except to act as a translation of a driver's license from your home country

  • It is strongly advised that you apply for a Massachusetts driver's license upon your arrival to the U.S. 

  • Some countries have established arrangements to allow licensed residents to convert their driver's licenses. Upon becoming a Massachusetts resident, valid license holders can do this without a written or road test. A list of eligible countries and the application process is available on the Massachusetts RMV website

How to obtain a Massachusetts driver’s license

To get a driver’s license in Massachusetts, you’ll need to provide proof of identity/date of birth, social security number (SSN) status, and Massachusetts residency. A complete list of the Massachusetts ID requirements can be found on the Massachusetts RMV website.

If you are not eligible for an SSN, you must apply for one and obtain a “denial letter” from the Social Security Administration explaining that your request for an SSN was denied. Learn more about this process.

After you obtain your SSN and/or proof of SSN exemption, proceed with your Massachusetts driver's license application via the phases outlined below. 

The three phases of the Massachusetts driver’s license application 

All phases that are part of the driver’s license application process must be completed in person at the Massachusetts RMV. Each phase outlined below includes associated fees. Please refer to the RMV website for detailed information on the fees.

Phase 1: Written learner's permit test

  • Read the Massachusetts Driver's Manual

  • The written test consists of 25 multiple-choice questions. You must answer 18 questions correctly to pass

  • See the "Apply for a Passenger (Class D) Learner's Permit" section of RMV website for specific written test instructions

Phase 2: Road test 

  • After you obtain a learner's permit and become accustomed to driving in the U.S., you will schedule a road/driving test. This usually takes place six months after receiving the learner’s permit

  • You are required to bring a car to the road test. The road test is usually brief. You may borrow or rent a car for the test

  • See the "Schedule Your Road Test" section of the RMV website to explore the road test appointment instructions

Phase 3: License 

You are eligible for the Massachusetts driver's license as soon as you pass the road test.

Massachusetts identification/liquor ID

If you do not want a Massachusetts driver’s license, it is recommended that you get a Massachusetts identification card (also called a “liquor ID”) for identification purposes. This is to ensure you have a U.S. government identification for certain times when it is required, such as when you enter a pub and purchase a mobile phone.

How to obtain a Massachusetts identification card

Before all else, obtain a SSN. If you are not eligible for a SSN, you must apply for one and obtain a “denial letter” from the Social Security Administration explaining that your request for an SSN was denied.

View the application instructions for an identification card

International driver's license

The Massachusetts RMV will only recognize an international driver’s license if it has been issued by the government agency responsible for such licenses in your country of residence, and if you are a licensed driver in that country.

Certain countries provide an international version of their domestic driver's license to those who need it in other countries. The international version of the domestic driver’s license typically includes translations, often English.

If a country issues an international version of its domestic license, the license will be honored in Massachusetts for one year.

International driving permits

Massachusetts does not extend driving privileges to individuals who hold an international driving permit, as it is not a valid substitute for an international driver’s license. An international driving permit primarily serves to confirm the issuance of a license and translates the pertinent information on the license.

Learn more about international driving licenses