Getting a State ID in the US

Soon after you arrive in the US, you will realize that you need an ID in almost any instances, such as opening a bank account, applying for library card, checking out laptop from your computer lab, getting a discount card from grocery stores, etc.

In the US, driver license is the most common ID used. However, for those of you who do not plan to drive in the US, and thus do not plan to get a driver license, State ID is equally acceptable ID as that of driver license. Of course you can use your passport as your ID; however carrying your passport around all the time is not safe and not convenient.

The following information is for guidance purposes only and we recommend that you check out the DMV's official website - ID Card for accurate and detailed information on getting a state ID.

Related Links
  Things to do after arrival
  Getting a SSN
  Getting a State ID
  Getting a Driver License

What is a State ID?

State ID is a document (card) issued by a particular state to show that you are a resident of that state. It has your picture and your personal information, such as your address and your date of birth printed on it.

How to obtain a state ID?

In most states, bureau that is authorized to issue a state ID is DMV (Department of Motor Vehicle). If you need to make a state ID, you can locate the nearest DMV from – location & hours

Documents that you need to show at the DMV vary depending on the state. However, generally you will be asked to show:

  • Proof of name and date of birth (you can show your passport)
  • Social Security Card (if you do not have one, you can show your 999-xx-xxx number from school, and explain to the officer that you are an international student)
  • Document that show you are living in a particular state (you can show one of your mail with your address on it or your apartment leasing contract)
  • Fee (the amount varies depending on the state)

The officer that help you in the bureau will ask you to fill out an application form for state ID or he / she will fill it out for you based on the information that you give him / her. After that the officer will have your picture taken and your finger printed on the card.

The card will be ready for you immediately after your picture taken and you have your finger printed.



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