I am a Canadian citizen. In Canada, our driver license can be used as a primary photo ID almost everywhere.

If I don't want to show my passport, can my British Coloumbia driver license be used as primary photo ID in US?

PS: I will be studying in the US and I plan to put my passport in the security box at the bank and decide not to carry it around with me.

Even going to Universal Studios might require a valid piece of photo ID. What are the IDs I can use in US?

  • How long are you going to be studying in the US? – DJClayworth Aug 21 '16 at 16:26
  • @DJClayworth, about two years – randy Aug 21 '16 at 16:45
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    Can you please edit that into the question. For future reference, we have an Expatriates site which is better suited for this kind of question about long-term residence. I will flag the question to be moved there. – DJClayworth Aug 21 '16 at 17:41
  • BTW, Universal Studios does not require a photo id, but does create a biometric using a finger scan. – Giorgio Aug 21 '16 at 17:47
  • @randy In most states, you're required to get an in-state Driver's License after being resident in the state for more than six months. It's an easy process, as your Canadian ID will just be converted to an American one (no test) – Matthew Barclay Mar 2 '18 at 20:43

My experience, first and second hand, is that it depends. Some places in the US, especially those used to dealing with foreigners, will accept a foreign (especially Canadian) drivers license as ID. However there are likely to be quite a few that won't. I've even been in restaurants where the only allowed foreign document to prove age for alcohol purchase was a passport. (We weren't in there long.)

Assuming you are enrolled in an official course of study, this shouldn't be a problem however. Almost all education establishments issue student ID cards, which should suffice as photo ID. If that's not the case, you might consider looking into some other form of government ID. Some states issue cards purely for the purpose of identification.

If you are staying in the US for two years, you might want to consider getting a drivers license for the state you are going to be studying in.

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    In my experience, student ID cards are generally not accepted as photo ID by anyone except the institution itself. Particularly not for alcohol purchases. – Nate Eldredge Aug 21 '16 at 18:11
  • I agree. Student ID cards aren't usually considered to be "government ID" even when issued by a public university. – Dennis Aug 21 '16 at 18:40
  • "foreign driver's license": from what country? In many contexts, Canadian licenses are acceptable where those from other foreign countries are not, including when passing the TSA security check to board an airplane. – phoog Aug 23 '16 at 16:10

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