On the back of Driving license in California, and as per California's DMV on International Driving Permits:

California does recognize a valid driver license that is issued by a foreign jurisdiction (country, state, territory) of which the license holder is a resident.

and on How to apply for a driver license if you are over 18:

If you are a visitor in California over 18 and have a valid driver license from your home state or country, you may drive in this state without getting a California driver license as long as your home state license remains valid.

What if the driver holds a driving license from a foreign country of which they're not resident (i.e. they're resident of yet another foreign country)? Does this mean they cannot use that license to drive in California?

  • 5
    Don't read too much into the text. The important thing is that the IDP is not in and of itself a license, but a translation of a valid license from somewhere. California does not particularly care about your residency, citizenship/nationality, etc. in the jurisdiction which issues the license, simple that you have it and that it is valid.
    – choster
    Mar 23, 2014 at 17:27
  • ohh.. California ! Mar 24, 2014 at 2:23
  • 1
    Nobody accepts an IDP as a license, since it's not a license.
    – Flimzy
    Mar 24, 2014 at 18:16
  • @Flimzy I now removed the bit on IDP as the question really is about foreign license and residency.
    – landroni
    Mar 24, 2014 at 18:17
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    @user102008 OK, but what about the driving license from the original place? Can you use it to drive in the US?
    – landroni
    Mar 26, 2014 at 19:01

1 Answer 1


The validity of the license from a foreign country would be determined by that country. So if that country's license becomes invalid when you leave the country or your residence permit expires you have no license to drive with in California.

The International Driving Permit is a translation of your actual driver's license into many languages (including English) and needs to be accompanied by a government issued driver's license.

  • So from what I understand, the crucial point that matters here is that the jurisdiction that has originally issued the license considers that license valid (i.e. the owner can legally drive in the issuing country). The current residency, citizenship/nationality, etc. status of the owner is of no relevance. Is this correct?
    – landroni
    Apr 11, 2014 at 9:35

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