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I live in Boston, I plan to stay there for around 5 months and I have a French international B driving license.

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Sorry Franck, but questions like this, about long term immigration and relocation, are considered off topic here at travel.se. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Dec 13 '13 at 2:39
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Well ok but the answer is the same if I'd just stay for a few months, as the whole process of converting the license take around 10 days in the US. Is that still long term immigration and relocation? I think travelers could also find this information useful, e.g. car trip in the US or people who want to have some American ID other than passport. Do you want me to replace "years" by "months" in the question? –  Franck Dernoncourt Dec 13 '13 at 2:52
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To be fair, same thing if you go to Australia for a few months from NZ - after 3 months, you're meant to get an Aussie driver's license... –  Mark Mayo Dec 13 '13 at 4:30
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I see that the question has been put on hold. It referred me to the meta question Is it OK to ask questions about immigration? as the reference. The latter says: "about travel and for stays of under one year (be it for work, study or leisure) is fine, and anything about over one year, or not directly travel-related (opening bank accounts, finding kindergartens, whatever) belongs in Expats.SE.". Subsequently, if you abide by the rules you have define yourselves, since my question is now under 1 year by far, it should be re-opened. Thanks. –  Franck Dernoncourt Dec 13 '13 at 15:56
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@Gilles At least in the US, any stay that's long enough that you'd need to get a new drivers license, is a stay during which you are declaring residency, which is pretty clearly defined as off topic here. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Dec 13 '13 at 21:59
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1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Go to the local RMV (MassDOT RMV; 630 Washington Street, Boston, MA is the most easily accessible in Boston using public transportation) with:

  • Passport (+ I-20 if you are on F-1 visa)
  • French driving license + translation by the French Consulate (20 USD)
  • French "releve restreint" (called "driving record" in the US), which is given by the Prefecture in which the driving license was delivered. It can be sent by mail 1. We have translate this document ourselves using the template provided on http://www.consulfrance-boston.org/spip.php?article3022, then the French Consulate certifies the translation. (15 USD). To get discounted price for translation, register at Consulat Général de France à Boston: (by mail or face to face)
  • Social security card. See note 3.
  • Fill http://www.massrmv.com/rmv/forms/21042.pdf (can be done at the RMV, they have copies of the form there)

Note 1: The "international" driving license that is delivered in France is useless to get a US driving license. You need to have the French driving license.

Note 2: To get the French "relevé restreint" by mail: see Connaître le nombre de points restant sur son permis

http://www.torontois.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=1586&start=45:

Faites un courrier expliquant votre cas avec photocopie du permis et de la carte d'identité à (pas eu besoin d'envoyer de lettre reponse ni de recommandé etc ... cool)

Ministère de l'intérieur, de l'Outre-Mer et des Collectivités territoriales
Fichier national des permis de conduire
Place Beauvau
75008 Paris Cedex 08

The letter I wrote (didn't give much thought about it):

Franck Dernoncourt
Phone: +33 601 187 123
Address: XXXX, 75013 Paris, France
Email: franck.dernoncoucgcbrt@gmail.com

Bonjour,

Actuellement aux États-Unis pour un PhD de 5 ans, j’aimerais convertir mon permis de conduire français en un permis de conduire américain. Pour cela, j’ai besoin du relevé restreint. Pourriez-vous s’il vous plaît me l’envoyer à l’adresse suivante: XXXX, 75013 Paris, France

Une photocopie du permis et de ma carte d'identité accompagnent cette lettre.

Merci d’avance pour votre aide,

Franck

Note 3: Regarding the social security card, http://www.massrmv.com/rmv/forms/21042.pdf says:

You must also produce your social security number (SSN) that the RMV can verify with the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) as having been issued to you.

If you do not have an SSN, an acceptable written denial notice not more than 60 days old, from the Social Security Administration (SSA) is required. You must also provide proof of an acceptable visa status, an I-94, and a current non-U.S. Passport.

Note 4: A relevé d'information intégral de permis de conduire looks like this:

enter image description here

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You will also likely need a copy of your I94, which can be obtained from cbp.gov/i94 –  Doc Dec 13 '13 at 7:11
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In fact, international driving permit are useless for any purpose without the original driver's license (where and when they are required, you need to have both together). –  Annoyed Dec 13 '13 at 10:42
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