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Driver's License

In most cases, you must apply for a Texas driver’s license in person at the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) office. You must bring all immigration documents including your passport, your I-20, and your I-94 card. 

To drive a car in the state of Texas, you must have

  1. a valid driver’s license,
  2. a properly inspected and registered vehicle and
  3. sufficient auto insurance.

1. A valid driver’s license

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) enforces driving laws and issues licenses. You can drive legally with a valid international driver’s license for up to one year if your home country is on the US reciprocity list.

To obtain a Texas driver’s license, you will need to take a written and a driving test, show proof of identity and pay a fee.

For driving manuals, license bureau locations, FAQs and identity documents required to obtain a license (including alternative documents for persons who do not have a Social Security card), see the Texas Department of Public Safety website.

2. A properly inspected and registered vehicle

To own a car, you must pay for the annual inspection and registration of the vehicle and maintain its condition to meet DPS standards.

  • Annual inspections cost less than $20 and can be obtained at car repair shops, gas stations and other car service businesses that display the Texas State Inspection insignia. However, if your vehicle does not pass inspection, you will be required to make any repairs and pass a follow-up examination before the car will be legal to drive.
  • Car registrations are handled through county tax offices. In Texas car registration is a form of property tax. The cost of the registration varies according to the county assessment rates and the value of the vehicle. Valid registration is demonstrated by current license plates and by paper documentation confirming your ownership of the vehicle. If you are ever stopped by law enforcement while driving the vehicle, you will be asked to show a valid driver’s license, vehicle registration and auto insurance card.

When purchasing a new vehicle, your registration may or may not be included in the selling price. If you purchase a used vehicle you will have to arrange to transfer the title of ownership. Contact the local county tax office for how to transfer a vehicle title.

Be warned, buying a vehicle can be risky. It is recommended that you be aware of reasonable market prices before you shop and have the sale vehicle checked by a mechanic before purchasing. Campus police department personnel can give you other tips for protecting yourself against fraud.

3. Sufficient auto insurance

Each US state has different minimum requirements regarding auto insurance. To purchase auto insurance you will have to select a private insurance agency and sign up for a policy. In that process you will be required to make several decisions about how much coverage you wish to buy, so you should research Texas minimum requirements and decide how much coverage is appropriate for your circumstances. You will have to provide information about your vehicle and your driving history.