My NY Drivers license just expired and I'm not ready to return to the states. How can I get a drivers license that I could use for car rental. Most of my travel will be in Mexico, and I do have to leave here every 6 months or so.

I have no home or property in the US. I've essentially emigrated from the US to the world and I'm living on a boat that can move from country to country. I really only want the DL for car-rentals where Uber is not available or where the journey is excessively long.

My passport is still valid, but they won't let you rent a car with that even though the DL tests are lame at best.

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    Are you eligible to renew your NY license by mail (see "Out of the state or country")? That could work if you want to continue to consider yourself an absent NY resident (which may have tax and other implications beyond the scope of this question). Feb 6, 2020 at 21:08
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    Is the reason that you must leave "every six months or so" that you have a visitante visa (tourist visa, validity six months or less) rather than visa de residente temporal (temporary resident visa, six months–four years validity)? Would you be able to get a temporary resident visa and use it to get a Mexican driver's license? Feb 6, 2020 at 21:27
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    Note that most countries will only let you use a foreign license for a short period of time, possibly six months. After than your license will no longer be recognized as valid, and you should trade it for a local one. If are spending most of your time in Mexico, then they may well not recognize your license any more
    – CSM
    Feb 6, 2020 at 22:09
  • Note too that every jurisdiction I've ever seen only grants drivers licenses to residents. While you may be able to renew your NY license from overseas, they may eventually figure out you don't live in NY any more. Feb 7, 2020 at 3:47
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    Don't delay! In my state, if your license has been expired more than six months, you have to take the written and road tests all over again. I know two people who have had to do this.
    – Kyralessa
    Feb 7, 2020 at 14:11

2 Answers 2


South Dakota is a popular state for RVers and boat lifers who need a drivers license (and auto registration) but don’t have a fixed address anywhere. There are a number of companies who will do most of the paperwork for you as well as take care of your mailing address, for a fee of course. You do need to be physically present when you get the license and stay at least one night in the state when you renew. But that’s a pretty easy thing for most people.

This is all assuming you’re a US citizen.

  • I wonder why that's the case. I also wonder if it's been affected by Real ID. Feb 7, 2020 at 9:48

Keep in mind that if you've had your license for the typical 4-6 years, something new has entered the scene: Real ID. This is a TSA requirement that states "Know their citizens", i.e. have better documentation for people to whom they issue licenses. So as a one-time thing, everybody has to renew in person and bring more paperwork than was required before. Even if they would normally be eligible to renew by mail.

I presume you know about PMBs and the ease of mail forwarding.

So you may need to make some of your "world traveling" happen in a US state. Some marinas are built for live-aboard boating, where the boat is the occupant's primary residence and mailing address. The good news is, the moment you start getting bills and whatnot at that address, you can go to the DMV and take that as proof of residency right away. Most states do not want some nonsense like "you must be here 90 days to establish residency"; they want you getting your in-state license pretty ASAP after you move.

Also, most states will honor your less-than-6-month-expired license as proof that you did, in fact, pass a driving test at one point in your life; so they won't hit you with the full standard of driver competency testing they give to new drivers. But don't put this off.

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