The International Driver's License
According to the State of Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles, an international driver's license is valid in the State of Connecticut for one year. The international driver's license is simply a translation of an au pair's driver's license from his or her native country. Au pairs who wish extend their program for 6, 9, or 12 months must obtain a Connecticut driver's license for their extension year.
The Connecticut Driver's License
Some insurance companies require that au pairs have a Connecticut driver's license in order to be covered under their host family's auto insurance policy. Other host families prefer that their au pairs obtain a Connecticut driver's license because it gives them a sense of comfort. Whatever the reason, here is some information that all au pairs and host families should be aware of before they apply for a Connecticut driver's license:
As of January 1, 2013, the Department of Motor Vehicles announced that all adults 18 and over applying for a driver's license in Connecticut must hold a three-month learner's permit. This has led to some confusion when it comes to the au pair program. Local Coordinators, host families and au pairs were quite concerned that an au pair would not be able to drive for the first three months of their year. This could be very isolating for the au pair, and a burden on host families who rely on their au pairs to drive their children.
I spoke at length with a very helpful person from the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles and she set me straight on this new law. While it is true that au pairs must obtain a learner's permit in Connecticut, they do not have to wait the 90 days to drive, because they already have an international driver's license. It is important to note that au pairs from France and Germany are exempt from this rule because we have reciprocity with these countries, so they are able to apply for a Connecticut driver's license without a learner's permit. Again, this is only for au pairs who have host families with an insurance provider that requires the au pair to obtain a Connecticut driver's license. If the insurance company doesn't require it, then an international driver's license is sufficient for the first year.
How to Apply for a Connecticut Learner's Permit and Driver's License
The following is what needs to happen for an au pair to obtain a license in the State of Connecticut:
- First, the au pair has to have a social security card. It takes approximately 10 days from their arrival in the U.S. for an au pair to be entered into the SEVIS system by the State Department. It is quite possible that they will be entered in sooner, but in order to avoid wasting time, I suggest waiting the 10 days because then they will definitely be in the system. Once they are entered into the system, they can apply for their social security card by going to the nearest Social Security office. They will need to bring their International Driver's license, passport, visa, I-94 and the form that we provide them with at orientation stating that they have permission to obtain a social security card. The card will arrive within a week or so after they apply.
2. Next the au pair will need to go to the local DMV office to obtain a learner's permit. In order to do so, they will need to present their passport, visa, international driver's license, I-94, social security card and 2 proofs of residency. (The proofs of residency can be first class mail addressed to the au pair, so as a Local Coordinator, I always send a welcome letter and another with a copy of our newsletter and au pairs in the area to the au pair c/o the host family home prior to the au pair's arrival.) The au pair will also need to take a vision test and a written test that will test his or her knowledge of our driving rules of the road. The cost for the tests are $40. The cost for the permit is $19.
Once the au pair has a learner's permit, he or she will need to sign up for the 8 hour safe driving class with a commercial driving school. The cost for this is $125. This is a set price, mandated by the State of CT.
After the au pair has their learner's permit, they will need to make the appointment for the road test. The cost for the license is $84.
If you have any additional questions, I recommend calling the DMV at 1-800-842-8222. When in doubt, it is always easier to speak to someone for clarification.