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A valid driver license from another country is also valid in NYS. You do not need to apply for a NYS driver license unless you become a resident of NYS.
According to NYS law, a resident of another country can get a NYS driver license. The DMV does not recommend this because:

  • NYS recognizes your foreign driver license if you remain a resident of the nation that issued the license. You do not need to have a NYS driver license to drive in NYS unless you become a resident of NYS.

  • If you have a driver license from any nation except Canada, you must pass a written test, complete a 5-hour pre-licensing course and pass a road test to qualify for a NYS driver license.

  • You must show a Social Security Card. If you are not eligible for a Social Security Card, you must provide a letter or form SSA-L676 from the US Social Security Administration (SSA) that states that you are not eligible. The SSA Letter or form must have been issued no more than 30 days before the date of your application. You must also show the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) documents that the SSA used to determine that you are not eligible for a Social Security Card.  The USCIS was formerly known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

  • When you receive your NYS driver license, you must surrender your foreign driver license to the DMV road test examiner. The local DMV office keeps your foreign driver license, and then destroys the license after 60 days. If you plan to return to your home country and use your foreign driver license, ask the road test examiner how to make sure that your foreign driver license is not destroyed. If you need to get your foreign driver license, go to the local DMV office where you applied for your NYS driver license.

International Driving Permit: An International Driving Permit is not a driver license. The permit only verifies that you hold a valid driver license in your home country. Your foreign driver license, not the International Driving Permit, allows you to drive in NYS. Contact the authorities in your home country to get an International Driving Permit. If you are not a resident of the US, you cannot apply for an International Driving Permit in the US.
You are not required to have an International Driving Permit to drive in NYS, but the permit has value. The permit verifies, in several languages, that you have a valid foreign driver license. A police officer who cannot read the language on your foreign driver license can read the permit.

Definition of a NYS Resident:  If you become a resident of NYS, you must exchange your driver license and vehicle registration from another state for a NYS driver license and vehicle registration within 30 days.
Section 250 (5) of the Vehicle and Traffic Law defines the term "resident." The law defines a resident as a person who lives in NYS with the intent to make NYS a "fixed and permanent" place to live. To live in a house, a home, an apartment, a room or other similar place in NYS for 90 days is considered "presumptive evidence" that you are a resident of NYS. A police officer can use this evidence as the reason to issue a traffic ticket if you drive in NYS without a driver license or vehicle registration issued by NYS.
A judge considers the law and the evidence of your intent and decides if you are a resident of NYS. For example, if you pay taxes or your children attend school in another state, a judge considers these facts to decide if your intent is to make NYS a "fixed and permanent" residence. The DMV will not decide if you are a resident of NYS, if you must get a NYS driver license, or if you must register your vehicle in NYS.
According to this law, students from other states or from other nations who attend school in NYS are normally not considered residents of NYS.

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