I just got an interim drivers license from the state of California. They said the regular license should arrive in the mail in two weeks. However, I'm leaving the state in a few days to travel to New York, and after that, I'm leaving the country for a few weeks.

My question is two-fold:

  1. Will the interim license be valid in New York?
  2. Will the interim license be valid in another country? Specifically I'm curious about Iceland and Portugal.
  • 3
    This is the interim license, not the learner's permit, right? The one you get while they print the real one? That should be recognized by New York. The problem, both there and even more so in another country, is that unless it has changed from 10 years ago, there is no photograph. Maybe it would be taken in conjunction with other ID that does have a picture, but not by itself. (If it does now have a picture, as technology marches on, I'll delete the comment.) Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 6:36
  • 1
    If you are planning to rent a car in Iceland or Portugal, be aware that many European car rental agencies will only rent out to people who have had their license for at least one year.
    – gerrit
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 11:08
  • 1
    It is valid in the US but you will need to present a picture ID along with that driver's license. As far as Europe is concerned I am not sure they accept non-photo driver's license.
    – Karlson
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 13:51
  • 1
    If the interim is a Xerox-type image of the actual license, carried while an enhanced document is being produced, it should be fine. However, it might be challenged if you have to produce it for a traffic stop outside of California or for air travel, and you would have to have a second, valid form of id. If it is the paper version that California used to issue with DMV logo in the upper left corner, your details, no picture, and the 90 days validity stated, it may present a problem in other states, and would probably be useless abroad.
    – Giorgio
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 17:42
  • @AndrewLazarus: Yep, that's the one - it doesn't currently have a picture. It appears that it should work within the US - I'll try to do some sleuthing to see if it'd work in Iceland/Portugal
    – Claudiu
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 18:43

1 Answer 1


I went ahead and asked the NYS DMV directly. In short, an interim license is not valid to legally drive in NY.

My question was:

I just received my interim driver's license from the state of California. I will be flying to New York before the regular license arrives in the mail. Can I legally drive in New York State with this interim driver's license? It contains my name, physical descriptors, and license number, but no photograph. I do have a valid photo ID however.

Their response:

Dear Claudiu,

You will not be able to legally drive in NY with an interim license. You will need a valid drivers license with a picture ID. Thank you.


[name redacted]

License Production Bureau

If another state in the same country doesn't recognize the license, I would be very surprised if another country does!

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