Driving in the U.S.

Driving South on 101A car isn't necessary at UCSB, especially if you live in the residence halls or Isla Vista. Many students at UCSB choose to use bicycles or the Santa Barbara MTD bus to get around. (Undergraduates get to ride the public bus for free!)

If you would like to drive a car or motorcycle in California, you will need to apply for a California driver's license (CDL). Driver's licenses are issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

The driver license can also be used as a form of identification in the U.S. If you don't qualify for a driver's license, you can apply for a California Identification Card. The ID card doesn't give you the right to drive, but it can help if you want a state ID.

When to Apply

International visitors must check in with OISS when they arrive in the U.S. Wait at least 10 days after that check in to apply for a driver's license (this allows time for your immigration record to be properly updated).

How to Apply

To get a driver's license, you must pass a written test and a behind-the-wheel driving test. Prepare using the driver's license handbooks and sample tests here.

You must make an appointment at the DMV to take your exam. You can make an appointment with the DMV online.

Required Documents
When you go to the DMV to apply for your driver's license, you will need:

  • Passport
  • I-94
  • Form 1-20 (visa status F-1 or F-2) or Form DS-2019 (J-1 or J-2) or Form I-797 
  • (H-1B, H-4, TN, TD, E-3, or E-3D)
  • Social Security Number (SSN) or an official refusal to process SSN (Form SSA-L676)

​Be sure your name and date of birth are consistent on all your documents. 

Where to Apply

There are two DMV offices nearby. The office closest to UCSB is the Goleta DMV office. The Santa Barbara DMV office is in downtown Santa Barbara.

California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)

Study in the States: Driving in the US – For F-1 Students